Economy & Innovation

News about the economy, business, and innovation happening in the St. Louis region.

(via Flickr/Daniel Leininger)

Data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics brings both positive and negative information to light about unemployment in the St. Louis Mo. - Ill. Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Some areas of industry gained jobs, while others lost, and, though the unemployment rate for the area in January 2011 was slightly higher than the national average, total employment in the area has gone up slightly over the past year.

(Missouri Senate Website)

Missouri lawmakers are expected to debate controversial right-to-work legislation this week.

One bill would prohibit closed-union shops, in which all employees must pay fees for union representation. The Senate sponsor is Republican Luann Ridgeway of Smithville.

(via Flickr/Robert Scoble)

Updated 2:12 p.m. March 11, 2011 to include Overstock.com information.

Amazon.com has made good on its threat to cut ties with Illinois affiliates because of a new law requiring the online store to collect sales taxes.

Amazon notified its Illinois partners Friday that it will stop doing business with them on April 15. It calls the tax law "unconstitutional and counterproductive.

e-MagineArt.com | Flickr

The former chairman and CEO of St. Louis-based KV Pharmaceutical Co. has pleaded guilty to two federal charges of misbranding drugs.

The U.S. Attorney's office says that 69-year-old Marc S. Hermelin entered the pleas Thursday. He was sentenced to one month in prison and a $1 million fine and agreed to forfeit $900,000 to the federal government.

KV Pharmaceutical manufactured generic prescription drugs, including a pain relief and opiate drug called morphine sulfate.

(via Flickr/public.resource.org)

Illinois consumers may find themselves paying sales taxes on some Internet purchases under a new state law.

The law says sales taxes must be charged when people buy from online retailers through an Illinois-based partner. For instance, an Illinois business might sell products through Amazon.com.

Online businesses generally don't charge state sales taxes. Illinois customers are supposed to pay it directly to the state, but they rarely do.

Late last week, Joe Edwards announced that he’s stepping down as the Chairman of the Loop Special Business District after 30 years leading the board.  He stopped by St. Louis on the Air today to chat about his decision and what’s next for the six-block district along Delmar that’s been designated “One of the 10 Great Streets in America” by the American Planning Association.

(via Flickr/aka Kath)

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will host the last open house tomorrow to answer questions about the high-speed rail project between St. Louis and Chicago.

The public meetings, which began March 1, are aimed at answering questions about a recent environmental study. The study evaluates the impact of adding a second track to the high-speed route.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Missouri’s exports grew by 35 percent last year, and the state’s governor is visiting several businesses today to spread the news.

Governor Jay Nixon stopped at Volpi Foods this morning, a family-owned business on The Hill in St. Louis, which exports dry-cured Italian meats to several countries.

(via Flickr/Robert S. Donovan)

Anheuser-Busch InBev reported a 24 percent drop in fourth-quarter profits today, the St. Louis Business Journal reports.

And what are the numbers behind the drop? According to the Business Journal:

Peabody Energy to stay downtown, expand

Mar 2, 2011

St. Louis-based Peabody Energy announced today that it will keep its headquarters in downtown St. Louis for at least another 15 years.

Peabody is a Fortune 500 company employing more than 600 people in St. Louis.

The company had been offered a package of $10 million in Federal New Market tax credits to fund upgrades to their downtown high-rise.

Federal officials say Arch Coal will pay $4 million in fines and change some mining practices to settle alleged Clean Water Act violations in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky.

The deal announced Tuesday is between St. Louis-based Arch, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice.

Updated 2:12 p.m. Feb. 28, 2011 with quotes from Mock (via AP).

Two years after Chrysler shut down its dealership in Wentzville, Mo., Century Motor Corp. is back in business.

Twenty-five people work there - about 20 fewer than when the dealership closed in May 2009.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Brewing giant, Anheuser-Busch InBev, is looking to grow its market base in Europe after reports project higher savings than expected.

The producer of hoppy classics like Budweiser and Stella Artois is looking forward to some $.75 billion in savings, says Chief Executive Carlos Brito.

(via Flickr/ Giles Douglas)

More not-so-great economic news for the St. Louis region today.

The Home Builders Association of St. Louis and Eastern Missouri released its data on the number of permits issued by the six counties (St. Louis, St. Charles, Lincoln, Warren and Franklin) and the city of St. Louis. They show that builders were looking to start construction on just 120 new single-family homes in January 2011. That's down more than 40 percent from January 2010, and is the lowest monthly total since November of 2008.

(via Flickr/Rob Lee)

The number of black-owned businesses in Missouri increased sharply, by 47 percent, from 2002 to 2007, the St. Louis Business Journal reports.

Those numbers are according to data released this month from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 Survey of Business Owners.

In a matter of weeks - if not days - the Pentagon will announce whether Chicago-based Boeing Co. or European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company will build 179 new tankers to replace the Air Force's Eisenhower-era KC-135 planes.

It's a $35 billion contract to build nearly 200 giant airborne refueling tankers. And the decade-long brawl by two defense industry titans to win it has been just as epic.

American Airlines is recalling 200 flight attendants who were furloughed from now-defunct TWA in 2003.

American said Friday it also agreed to hire 30 new Mandarin-speaking flight attendants to staff flights to and from Shanghai.

_J_D_R_ / Flickr

The costs of goods and services in the St. Louis region rose 2.5 percent between the last six months of 2009 and the last six months of 2010 - more than double the national rate over that same time.

Though the Bureau of Labor Statistics data show electricity prices going up 13.1 percent and motor fuel going up 10.1 percent, bureau economist Jacqueline Michael Midkiff says they weren't the real drivers of the increase.

If he doesn't re-sign with the St. Louis Cardinals, first baseman Albert Pujols could set off a bidding war to end all wars. Pujols reportedly wants to be baseball's first $300-million-man.

Check out Adam Allington's story for Marketplace Morning Report.

Canada, Mexico and China are the top customers for Missouri goods in an export market that jumped 36 percent in 2010, the St. Louis Business Journal reports.

The data reflecting the jump is from the World Trade Center St. Louis.

Tim Nowak, executive director at the World Trade Center, says the growth was driven primarily by industrial products and manufactured goods.

An Illinois lawmaker is pushing to raise the state's minimum wage to more than $10 an hour - higher than anywhere else in the United States.

(via Flickr/boeingdreamscape)

American Airlines is recalling more former TWA flight attendants. U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill says American will rehire 365 of the furloughed employees.

The TWA flight attendants were put at the bottom of the seniority list when the airline was bought out by American. In 2001, American laid off 2,500 flight attendants, many of whom used to work for TWA.

(via Flickr/Artotem)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is reporting that reserves of corn have hit their lowest level in over 15 years.

The high demand for corn could put upward pressure on food prices in 2011.

The USDA says demand for corn in the ethanol industry is up 50 million bushels after record-high production in December and January.

That has left the United States with the lowest surplus of corn since 1996.

(via Flickr/denharsh)

Representatives of AT&T Missouri are downplaying rumors that customers will defect to Verizon when that company starts selling the iPhone on Thursday.

Among other improvements AT&T says that it's invested over $1.7 billion in its St. Louis wireless network.

Nancy Garvey is Vice President and General Manager for AT&T mobility.

Fergus Randall | Flickr

The Missouri Public Service Commission will take Laclede Gas Co. to court in a dispute over records of gas
purchases made by one of the utility's affiliates.

The commission's staff has been trying for three years to obtain information on gas transactions made by Laclede Energy Resources, a gas marketing company not regulated by the state.

Boeing announced today that they're moving into production at their new site in Mascoutah, Ill., the St. Louis Business Journal reports.

Square footage still trumps eco-friendliness

Feb 5, 2011

Want to add a little green to your weekend? Take a listen to Adam Allington's feature on house size and the impact of green technology on the housing economy. It aired on Marketplace Money today.

Also, be sure to listen for a local story on a similar topic airing Monday (Feb. 7) on St. Louis Public Radio.

Map of the location of the old Chrysler plants in Fenton. (via Google Maps)

Legislators from St. Louis County have filed bills aimed at bringing jobs back to the site of the old Chrysler plants in Fenton.

The bills filed today apply to new and existing businesses located within one mile of the old plants.

UPDATE: 3:30 p.m. Jan. 24, 2011

The St. Louis Business Journal reports that Smurfit-Stone will lose its dual headquarters of in Creve Coeur, Mo. and Chicago when it is acquired by RockTenn.

The new combined company will be based out of RockTenn’s headquarters in Norcross, Ga., the Business Journal reports.

The president and CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association will step down by the end of this year.

Dick Fleming made the announcement Thursday.

He will continue to lead the RCGA until the board chooses his successor.

Fleming says the St. Louis region works together much better than it did when he first joined the RCGA back in 1994.

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