Economy & Innovation

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

Flickr/Rob Lee

A survey says that economic growth in the Midwest will continue into the first half of the new year, but what does that really mean?

Flickr Creative Commons user Victim Public


As many Missourians wrap up a weekend marked by celebration and plenty, somewhere near 16% of the state's population struggles with food insecurity.

Pharmaceutical giant Express Scripts announced today that it will invest $73 million to expand its St. Louis headquarters. The construction of the company's fourth building in the area is expected to create 150 new jobs.

Two men pleaded guilty to federal charges today in East St. Louis in an auto contract robo-calling scheme that had 15,000 victims in all 50 states. Here's a breakdown of the people, places and charges involved:

These two men were the president and vice president of Transcontinental Warranty...

- Christopher D. Cowart, 49 of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and

- Cris D. Saganelli, 45, of Boca Raton, Florida

Aaron Doerr

The Senate voted this afternoon to move ahead with Obama's compromise tax cut package.  A final Senate vote is expected Tuesday. But the bill still faces an uncertain future in the House. 

(Flickr Creative Commons User Dan4th)

A third person has been sentenced to prison for his role in the St. Louis towing scandal.

A federal judge on Friday sentenced 52-year-old Gregory Shepard to 10 months in prison and fined him $10,000. Shepard pleaded guilty in September to one count each of mail fraud and bribery.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois is set to get millions of dollars for high-speed rail projects that were supposed to go to two other states. But that news may not be as good as it sounds.

St. Louis Public Radio

Often tax legislation is a little bit muddled. We try to break down Obama's latest for you and let you know what your U.S. Senators, Kit Bond and Claire McCaskill, think as they go to vote on the bill.

(Flickr Creative Commons User Robert S. Donovan)

The president of Custom Janitorial Services and Supplies is facing federal charges alleging he embezzled nearly $1 million.

The St. Louis Business Journal reports that 54-year-old Herman Schamber of St. Louis worked out of the main Alexandria, Va. office of National Janitorial Services Inc.  and also owned and operated the another company, Custom Janitorial Services, out of the East Rutherford, N.J. area. The Business Journal explains:


(Flickr Creative Commons User taberandrew)

Bank of America is the largest bank in the United States, but they've also landed themselves in $137 million worth of trouble.

The bank's problems may be Missouri's gain.

(Flickr Creative Commons User Daniel Leininger)

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released data today about the state of unemployment over the past year for the St. Louis Mo.-Ill metropolitan area. We have some of the highlights for you:

  • St. Louis Mo.-Ill. registered an unemployment rate of 9.3 percent in October 2010 (not seasonally adjusted).
  • Nationally, the unemployment rate was 9.0 percent in October 2010, not seasonally adjusted.
  • Employment rose in St. Louis at a rate of 0.1 percent, but not as much as it did nationally, 0.5 percent.

So who was getting hired?

(Wikimedia Commons User RamblingGambler)

The St. Louis area's newest casino is falling short of revenue projections.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the River City casino in south St. Louis County is now projected to generate slightly less than $8.2 million in its 10 months of operation this year, and a little less than $10 million in 2011.

Pfizer employs about 500 people in research facilities around St. Louis, according to the St. Louis Business Journal. A shift at the very top of the corporation comes at a trying time for the drugmaking giant.

A trade mission led by Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon heads to Taiwan and South Korea later this month.
The primary reason for the trip will be the signing of a letter of intent sealing Taiwan's purchase of $600 million of Missouri goods.
According to a press release from the Nixon's office, the deal will indicate a roughly 28 percent increase in Missouri exports to Taiwan, to about $88 million.

(Casino Celebration)

A Las Vegas-based gaming company has entered a deal to help finance and operate the proposed casino at the Chain of Rocks bridge in north St. Louis.

The financing by the numbers:

What the Jamestown Mall site might look like.
Provided by Dover, Kohn & Partners

After years of decline and four days of intensive planning, the drive to transform Jamestown Mall moved into the "what if" stage on Tuesday night.

For example: What if, instead of a large, empty Sears building and a deserted parking lot at the corner of Lindbergh and Old Jamestown Road, there were mixed housing, shops, restaurants, a farmers' market and more intimate, walkable space, designed not to draw shoppers from a wide area but to serve the needs of people who live in the area?

Opponents of a proposed casino in north St. Louis County near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers brought out two new weapons in their fight Monday: an economic impact study and a letter against the project from documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.

At a news conference on land just a few miles from the site of the proposed $450 million project, the coalition known as Save the Confluence presented the study it commissioned from John R. McGowan, a professor of accounting at Saint Louis University.

The troubled Jamestown Mall may have a hard time attracting customers, but there is no shortage of suggestions from the public on how its 142 acres could be redone.

How about:

The Federal Reserve reported economic growth at a "modest pace" in its five western districts since mid-July, including St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas and San Francisco, according to the Fed's Beige Book released Wednesday.

The Fed said that reports from all 12 districts suggested continued growth in national economic activity, but noted mixed conditions or "a deceleration" compared with previous periods in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Richmond and Atlanta.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Since his election in 2005, Granite City Mayor Ed Hagnauer has helped steer his community of about 30,000 through some trying times.

In July 2006, severe storms battered Granite City, downing trees and power lines and leaving hundreds of residents without electricity for a week. An ice storm the following November again left many in the community in the dark. But no one was injured or killed, and the city worked with Granite City Township officials to set up emergency generators in cooling and heating shelters.

U.S. Steel in Granite City
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Beacon | File photo

Dan Simmons, president of Local 1899 of the United Steelworkers, said he never forgets his own mantra -- to buy American-made products -- even when it turns out to be a real challenge.

Simmons said that he and a fellow union official spent hours scouring the warehouse of a St. Louis candy wholesaler recently searching for union-made -- or even American-made -- candy to toss to kids at Monday's annual Labor Day parade in Granite City.

"We had to really work at it," Simmons said. "We spent way longer than we should have to make sure it was American-made."

Granite City used TIF funds to build a new movie theater.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Beacon | File photo

There is a glowing sign of changing times in downtown Granite City: a stylish marquee on a just-completed state-of-the-art cinema, within eyeshot of an old landmark steel mill that's up and running again.

Granite City used $4.6 million in tax-increment financing funds to pay for the theater, in hopes that it will draw people downtown.

The St. Louis area could create more jobs if a greater portion of its transportation funding went to mass transit rather than to building roads and highways, a new study by the Public Policy Research Center of the University of Missouri-St. Louis shows.

File photo

When Chesterfield mayor John Nations took on the job earlier this of running the campaign for Proposition A to help an ailing Metro, he had no idea that a few months later he would become the agency's new CEO.

"It was the furthest thing from my mind," he says.

If current political advertising is a sign of the finger-pointing to come, it appears that some candidates -- most notably the non-incumbents -- are taking a page from Bill Clinton's now infamous campaign dogma about the importance of the ailing economy, but with a twist.

With all due respect, it's the bailout, stupid.

Does the figure $700 billion come to mind?

As some of you likely encountered, last weekend construction wreaked havoc on Interstate 55/70 between Missouri and Illinois. Though I did my best to listen closely on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning as KMOX gave us repeated fair warning, all I retained was a 90 percent certainty that it was going to be a mess, and it was going to start at 8 p.m. on Friday.

300 pixels wide Kiel to Peabody constrruction
Rachel Heidenry | 2010 | St. Louis Beacon

If you want to take a break from the economic dirge of the past few weeks, here's a number to ponder:

$929 million.

Expectations play a significant role in explaining human behavior. Expect a slight chance of rain and you may not take an umbrella. Expect that the hurricane gaining strength off the coast is going to hit your town and you are likely to take precautions. Expectations also are important in explaining the current economic situation.

On Aug. 14, I attended a first-of-its kind event in St. Louis. The result was about six hours of conversation among people who live in the St. Louis area and people who work in public media. We talked about things ranging from empowering young women and non-accredited schools to how the Internet is changing local news and what media literacy means in the age of the Internet.

The news that China has surpassed Japan as the world's second largest economy sent a shiver through the collective soul of economic pundits. It needn't have.

During the late 1980s, we were warned of Japan's expanding economic machine. The Japanese economy was then expanding at a rate that made ours look puny. Everyone looked to Japan as the source for economic inspiration and guidance: Recall the movement to adopt their management techniques or face economic defeat?