Economy & Innovation

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

America's Central Port

The forecast for 2016 in Madison County and the St. Louis region’s newly-created freight district includes 9,600 feet of rail track, 1 million cubic yards of dirt and 8,000 cubic yards of concrete — and the sound of barge horns. The South Harbor at America’s Central Port was recently christened and is set to open in 2016 — with an expected increase in commodities flow by 25 percent.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

Cyber security has become a major initiative of the Pentagon.

As part of that initiative, Scott Air Force Base has a new cyberspace operations group that will eventually include 300 new jobs. The 688th Cyberspace Wing activated the group on Tuesday.

Colonel Roger Vrooman also became the new commander of the group during Tuesday's activation ceremony. He later told members of the media that he worries about cyber attacks that aren’t detected.

Courtesy of the Illinois Farm Bureau

Hopefully you got your fill of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. It may be your last until next fall.

Canned pumpkin supplies are expected to run out after the holiday. This year’s yield was down by about half in Illinois, where 90 percent of the crop for canned pumpkin is produced.

Provided | Arch Grants

The St. Louis business incubator founded to attract and keep entrepreneurs in the region seems to be delivering on its premise.

The majority of Arch Grant recipients are staying in St. Louis after the year-long requirement that is a condition of the $50,000 grant.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

An 86-mile stretch of levees along the Mississippi River was a source of hand-wringing from Alton to Columbia, Illinois, back in 2007.

Now local officials speak with pride about the work to improve the levee system.

The teen area of the newly renovated Indian Trails library branch, which is reopening on Monday, Nov. 23, 2015.
Provided | St. Louis County Library

Some St. Louis County library patrons may soon have to temporarily switch branches. The library system is in the process of opening or re-opening six locations while closing another five for renovations.

East St. Louis officials gather for a press conference in the mayor's office Nov. 20, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

East St. Louis officials are looking to the state and the banks to avoid having to ask city employees to work without pay in January.

At a news conference convened by the mayor Friday evening, City Manager Alvin Parks said “there is a distinct possibility” of payless paydays after Dec. 30.

(Maria Altman|St. Louis Public Radio)

When the Starbucks in Ferguson opens in the spring, it will be more than a new coffee place.

Getting a Starbucks is a big deal for the small city that saw several businesses go up in flames in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death in 2014.

"There’s probably that belief in some people’s minds that people would be hesitant to make an investment along West Florissant or an investment in north county," said Ferguson Mayor James Knowles. "The fact that Starbucks has stepped up to do that, we’re very excited and very appreciative."

Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 1:45 p.m., Nov. 16 with revised Illinois proposal - Metro East officials are sweetening their offer to attract a federal spy agency and its roughly 3,000 workers. St. Clair County officials said Monday that they are adding 200 acres to its proposal for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

Athrasher | Flickr

St. Louis area banks are becoming more accessible to low-income and minority neighborhoods. That’s according to a new report released by the St. Louis Equal Housing and Community Reinvestment Alliance.

In a survey of 23 banks, the alliance found that St. Louis banks have added at least seven branches in low-income or minority neighborhoods in the past three years. The banks have also made at least $2.4 billion in development loans and investments since 2012, earmarked for people and communities that don’t have much money.

Arch Grants Blue logo
Provided | Arch Grants

Eleven more startups are receiving Arch Grants Thursday. In exchange for locating in St. Louis, the businesses will receive $50,000 and a year of support in areas ranging from accounting to marketing.

Some companies receiving the grants are already located in St. Louis, such as the recent Washington University and Saint Louis University graduates behind Chrona Sleep. Other companies are relocating, including two international companies.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

“How do you define development?” questioned Richard Baron, the Chairman and CEO of St. Louis-based for-profit community developer McCormack Baron Salazar, on Wednesday’s “St. Louis on the Air.”

Bevo fox on one of the old Anheuser-Busch buildings
Tom Nagel | St. Louis Beacon file photo

Updated 9:33 a.m. , Nov. 11 with announcement of formal offer -

Anheuser-Busch InBev has put forth a formal offer to takeover rival brewer SABMiller. The announcement follows word last month that the companies had an agreement in principle on a deal worth more than $100 billion.

In an effort to clear regulatory hurdles in the U.S., Molson Coors will buy out SABMiller's interest in a joint venture. That means A-B InBev, which brews Budweiser, will not own SABMiller's U.S. business or the global rights to the Miller brand.

John Gaal, director of training for the Carpenter's Regional Council, gives Charles McElroy a certificate for completing the BUD pre-apprenticeship program on Wed. Nov. 4, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

In October 2014, Corey Harris was unemployed and looking for work. Now he makes $33 an hour as an ironworker apprentice in St. Louis. He made the transition from out-of-work retail manager to a career in construction through a pre-apprenticeship program called Building Union Diversity, or BUD.

Harris graduated from the pilot session of BUD just before Thanksgiving 2014. He was indentured as an ironworker apprentice in December and started getting steady work in March 2015.

(Illustration by Susannah Lohr, St. Louis Public Radio)

In May of last year, BioGenerator officials crunched the numbers and realized about a  dozen companies in their portfolio would need to raise $60 to $90 million in order to keep growing.

BioGenerator, which formed in 2003, is a sort of incubator for biotech companies in St. Louis, providing early stage funding and support for 65 companies to date.

Scarefest Haunted Houses

The National Retail Federation recently found that 157 million Americans will celebrate Halloween this year. Not impressed? That equates to over $6.9 billion in spending—on costumes, parties, candy and…wait for it…boo! Haunted houses. Nearly 20 percent of those 157 million will step foot in a haunted house this season alone.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

A non-profit aimed at developing more programmers in St. Louis is launching a new center on the north side.

The LaunchCode Mentor Center will open its doors Thursday evening at 4811 Delmar Boulevard, in a former state unemployment office.

Center director Chris Bay said they hope to engage the surrounding Fountain Park neighborhood with the kickoff event.

"We want people to not just come and celebrate and see a ribbon being cut. We want people to interact," he said.

A Rams fan speaks to NFL executives during a public meeting on Tuesday at the Peabody Oprea House.
File photo by Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

If the passion inside the Peabody Opera House could determine the future of the St. Louis Rams, then the team would probably stay in the Gateway City for eternity.

Of course, it’s not that simple.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Whether you admire or admonish them, the wiz kids of Wall Street have been fodder for conversations around the American dinner table for decades. Who was responsible for making it such a hot topic?

On Tuesday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” host Don Marsh discussed some of the 14 “financial visionaries” that author Edward Morris has identified as the critical figures who “wrote the rules of American finance.”

courtesy National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

The city of St. Louis can start the legal process to move residents from a north side area that would instead become home to a federal spy agency.

The city's Board of Aldermen passed a resolution Friday allowing the use of eminent domain against 19 property owners. They live within a 100-acre acre that is the proposed site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). The vote was 19- 5 with one abstention.

Flickr, Damian Gadal, creative commons

St. Louis native Danny Meyer recently rocked the restaurant world, making national news with his decision to eliminate tipping from his family of New York City restaurants.

Some have lauded Meyer’s decision as the first true step towards a more equal restaurant; others question its feasibility, predicting a mass exodus of servers and a reduction in service quality.

Originally published in St. Louis Globe-Democrat / Courtesy St. Louis Mercantile Library

For 50 years, the Gateway Arch has drawn visitors from around the world to downtown St. Louis. From presidents and pop stars, to school kids and church groups, millions of people each year have come to marvel at the monument.  But exactly how many people have visited in five decades? That depends on how they’re counted.

Aine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Professors Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer were startled to recently find a trend in American poverty that they hadn’t seen since the mid-1990s: the number of American households living on around $2, per person, per day has reached 1.5 million, including 3 million children.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis soon could begin using the eminent domain process against land owners within the proposed site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency on the city's north side.

Members of the aldermanic Housing, Urban Development and Zoning Committee voted 8-1 on Wednesday for a resolution that listed 37 property owners who could be forced to sell their land to the city. The resolution is  expected to go before the full board on Friday.

A row of small flats in Glasgow Village, an unincorporated community in north St. Louis County.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Owners of rental property in unincorporated St. Louis County will have to register with the county — and potentially face closer governmental scrutiny.

But critics say they’re planning to go to court over legislation that they contend is overly burdensome against poor and minority tenants.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

International accounting firm KPMG looked at cities all over the United States and landed on St. Louis for its information tech expansion.

The company already has an office in downtown St. Louis with 270 employees. Over the next three years, it plans to add 175 IT positions, the company announced at a press conference today.

Karen Vangyia, the managing partner of the local office, said St. Louis is one of the fastest growing markets for technology jobs. She pointed to computer science programs at several local universities and the availability of professionals.

(Flickr/Laurence Livermore)

BioSTL has grabbed a $500,000 grant from the Small Business Administration.

It was one of just three Regional Innovation Cluster Initiative grants the SBA is giving out nationally and is meant to spur small business growth.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

The Mississippi River basin got its first-ever report card from the America’s Watershed Initiative ... and it was nothing to write home about.

The overall grade is D+.

After rejecting a number of earlier offers, British-based beer company SABMiller accepted in principle a 69 billion British pound ($106 billion) offer from Budweiser brewer Anheuser Busch InBev.

If Tuesday's agreement is finalized, the new beer company will be the largest in the world and control two top U.S. brands in Budweiser and Miller Genuine Draft, according to The Associated Press.

Fashions R Boutique owner Juanita Morris sets out merchandise in her new Florissant location, after her original store burned in the riots following the Darren Wilson grand jury decision in November 2014.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

When riots broke out in Ferguson and Dellwood last year following the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown-Darren Wilson case, Juanita Morris' business of 28 years burned to the ground.

In one night, Morris lost the building that housed Fashions R Boutique and almost all of her inventory. But she vowed to rebuild, even in the face of what she called “some dark days.”

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