Economy & Innovation | St. Louis Public Radio

Economy & Innovation

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

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 22, 2008 - The deal hasn't been signed yet, but already beer industry experts are predicting that InBev's takeover of Anheuser-Busch will provoke more mergers and acquisitions in a rapidly consolidating industry.

"The targets are obvious," says Benj Steinman, editor of Beer Marketer's Insights, of Nyack, N.Y., which conducts research and publishes reports about the industry. "It's a question of whether they can do it."

Architect J. Robert Green tore down walls to open the space in his bungalow. The kitchen, in which he's standing, is filled with his artwork. The deck and landscaping in the back gives that area a modern feel.
Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 22, 2008 - About 20 years after he remodeled his childhood home in Brentwood, architect J. Robert Green still enthusiastically shows off the property he inherited. He enjoys having visitors pull up to his modest, one-story brick bungalow and seeing their expectations of a quaint interior shattered after stepping inside.

Harmony is more than a product at Wicks Organ Co.

Aug 20, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 20, 2008 - To the 60 workers at Wicks Organ Co. in Highland, Ill., the shrill hum of the factory equals harmony, not just noise.

And the harmony is personal. Wicks employees refer to their co-workers as family members. The sounds that go with building a pipe organ from scratch represent vocational stability and homey working conditions. Sometimes, this stability lasts more than half a century.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 20, 2008 - Hotel developer Charles Drury and associates gave the public on Tuesday an early glimpse of their still-evolving proposal for two 16-story hotels overlooking Forest Park along Kingshighway, just south of the newly opened Kingshighway and Interstate 64 interchange.

The approximately $100 million hotel project would be the largest in terms of size and expense for Drury Development Corp. since the family-owned business built its first hotel in Cape Girardeau, Mo., in 1969.

Budget cuts hit year of Lincoln celebrations

Aug 20, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 20, 2008 - Illinois' ongoing budget problems have spilled over into the much-anticipated events to celebrate Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday.

This summer, Gov. Rod Blagojevich slashed the budget for the state's historic sites by 50 percent, or $2.8 million. The cuts forced the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency to lay off 80 seasonal workers and to trim the operating hours at five Springfield-area historic sites, said spokesman Dave Blanchette.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 18, 2008 - A new online "Foreclosure Resource Center" launched by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is aimed at financially troubled homeowners, but it also offers useful consumer advice for people who aren't in danger of losing their homes.

For example, a link titled "You May Be Paying Too Much for Your Mortgage" offers four scenarios that could prompt a borrower with a good credit history to refinance or shop around for a better deal on a loan. A section on bank-related complaints includes directions for filing complaints against financial institutions and answers to commonly asked questions about credit and loans.

Photo by Jeff Parker

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 15, 2008 - Yes indeed, I really am a member in good standing of the Vacuum Cleaner Collectors' Club (VCCC).

And, yes, I did just return to St. Louis from our five-day annual convention. This year it was in Canton, Ohio.

Commentary: Smoke 'em if you got the password

Aug 14, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 14, 2008 - They say people can get used to anything, and a smoking ban is no exception.

The Smoke Free Illinois Act has been in effect for eight months, and by all accounts the effects have been mixed. Casino operators claim a 17 percent loss in revenue since the ban went into effect, but, in general, concerns that the law would drive tavern keepers out of business have not panned out. The regulars have not picked up their smokes and fled to Missouri pubs, nor opted to drink at home alone. Instead, they have moved outdoors -- at least 15 feet outdoors, according to the new law. Metro East biergartens have turned into zigarettengartens, now virtually off-limits to patrons unwilling to breathe in great clouds of second-hand smoke.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 12, 2008 - Controversial securities marketed by Wachovia Corp.'s St. Louis-based brokerage unit could cost the banking giant $500 million in legal settlements.

The company has set aside $500 million, before taxes, in reserves to cover "active settlement negotiations" with state regulators and the Securities and Exchange Commission over its selling of auction-rate securities, Wachovia said in a document filed with the SEC Monday just as the markets were closing.

This post first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 11, 2008 - Sure as the season itself, students heading back to college this fall will be seeking a record burden of loans to finance their studies. Before they crack a book, many are in for a rude lesson in economics: The sun has emphatically set on the good old days of easy money.

An enormous vacant lot has not inspired confidence that Ballpark Village will be the economic boost that was promised. 2008 300 pixels wide
Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 5, 2008 -  It's been a long and winding road to Ballpark Village, with still many miles to go. Eight years ago when the Cardinals owners first floated the idea of a new stadium, Ballpark Village was the carrot to win over a wary public. There was strong resistance to public assistance for a new stadium, and the Village offered the promise of a true economic boost to downtown.

After years of delays and frustrations, the owners announced a tentative new start, planting hope that the big dirt patch next to the stadium may prove fertile development ground after all.

Commentary: Making the case for mass transit

Aug 1, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 1, 2008 - On the final day of July, Metro held a “Transit Summit” at Washington University. While there was nearly unanimous support expressed for the St. Louis County Transit Tax measure to be considered at the November election, other items also received well deserved consideration.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 31, 2008 - There was no cake, but St. Louis area leaders celebrated MetroLink's 15th anniversary Thursday morning with a big birthday wish -- that voters approve in November a measure that would infuse the system with cash.

St. Louis companies look to go green with clean tech

Jul 31, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 31, 2008 - Tim Gray considers himself to be an environmentalist, one who believes that being "green" is good for business as well as for the environment.

"I think helping people to be more green, by saving them money, is a very powerful way to help change the country for the better," says Gray, who as chief executive of St. Louis-based Waste Remedies LLC helps his clients cut waste.

This post first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 31, 2008 - A marathon foreclosure counseling session this weekend hosted by Better Family Life, a St. Louis nonprofit, is expected to serve several hundred distressed homeowners in 24 hours, said Maurice Washington, director of the agency's housing program.

And in a sad sign of the times, Washington noted that the event might qualify for a Guinness World Record as the first marathon counseling session of its type.

This post first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 31, 2008 - Although a new TV ad is a warning against rapid-fire stock trading, a few analysts say this might be a money-raising strategy for Wachovia Corp. They suggest it could sell its brokerage business, Wachovia Securities, which acquired A.G. Edwards in October.

Wachovia says it’s keeping the St. Louis-based brokerage; but that hasn’t stopped RBC Capital Markets and Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. from saying a sale would help repair some damage caused by its mortgage-lending.

Commentary: After the flood: Not business as usual

Jul 29, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 29, 2008 - The recent floods in the Midwest demand a new approach by Congress and by local authorities. As recently as 1993, similar floods in this region produced widespread destruction and loss of life. In the wake of that tragedy, many experts, including American Rivers, called for a new course for managing floods. Sadly, few policymakers heeded the warnings.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 28, 2008 - CNN's special report on being Black in America raised a host of issues, but the one that stood out to me most is education.

The achievement gap is not a new problem. Black children continue to under-perform and we continue to be unsure how to remedy the situation. The special raised the question of whether students should receive monetary incentives for good grades.

This post first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 27, 2008 - In "The Accidental Theorist," Paul Krugman describes a fictional economy that produces two items: hot dogs and buns. The Princeton economist and New York Times columnist uses the playful idea as an analogy to dispel the belief that productivity growth in the world economy reduces overall employment and creates an excess supply of products that cannot be consumed.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 25, 2008 - After forcing the retirement of Chief Joe Mokwa, the St. Louis Police Board now faces the important task of selecting his successor.

The board announced Friday that Assistant Police Chief Stephen Pollihan will assume the duties of interim police chief for the 1,342-officer department.

The Great Rivers National Scenic Byway 2008
Courtesy, Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 29, 2008- The Loading Dock Bar and Grill in Grafton, Ill., is all concrete and steel. Utilities hover above, the walls are really garage doors, and the view brings customers from far and near to sit and sip where the Mississippi and Illinois rivers meet.

It's also a symbol of lessons learned.

There's a scammer born every minute

Jul 25, 2008
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This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 29, 2008 - For American homeowners drowning in mortgage and consumer credit debt, here is a grim warning from law-enforcement agencies: There are sharks in the water.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 23, 2008 -  About 130 years after Forest Park's June 1876 opening, enthusiasts of one of the city's most popular attractions can carry renderings of its jewels in their pockets.

Groups and cultural institutions devoted to making the park shine have collaborated to publish Forest Park, St. Louis (Scala 2007), a small book that features vertical and horizontal fold-out sections on the park's features, such as the Muny, the Science Center and the Zoo. Proceeds from Forest Park go to the Flora Conservancy, a volunteer group that works to maintain the park's arboreal aesthetics.

A-B lifts a glass to better than expected earnings

Jul 23, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 23, 2008 - Anheuser-Busch on Wednesday reported second-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street estimates. Higher profits from domestic and some foreign beer operations offset lower profits from non-beer businesses.

The March-June results are unaffected by the company's agreement on July 14 to be acquired by Belgian brewer InBev. That deal is expected to close by year-end. But until the initial agreement is approved by regulators and shareholders of both companies, Anheuser-Busch's results will reflect its independence.

Ballpark Village is up at bat again

Jul 23, 2008
The Ballpark Village site, looking west 2008
Rachel Heidenry | The Beacon

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 23, 2008 - After years of passed balls, failed bunt attempts, brush-back pitches and soaring fly balls that went foul, an agreement -- or at least an outline of an agreement -- with the St. Louis Cardinals, the city of St. Louis and the Baltimore-based developer Cordish Co. has been announced.

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This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 22, 2008 - When all else fails and foreclosure looms, bankruptcy attorneys say give them a chance

Which is worse: Foreclosure or bankruptcy?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 21, 2008 - What if we were to go to the grocery store only to find it closed? What if we were to find all the grocery stores closed - no workers and no food?

Societal breakdown would come pretty quickly. Envision hungry people forming roving bands to break into houses to get canned food - maybe, even dog food.

Analysis: Don't rebuild on the floodplain

Jul 21, 2008
Photo by Robert Criss

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 21, 2008 - According to George Bernard Shaw, "We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future."

How can we apply this wisdom to the flooding challenges in St. Louis area? The Great Flood of 1993 - deemed the most destructive flood in recorded history - caused nearly $16 billion in damage. Yet, the St. Louis area is in the forefront of floodplain development, with half of it occurring on floodplains that were under water in 1993.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 21, 2008 - When Anheuser-Busch and the Teamsters union discussed a contract renewal in 2003, negotiations went smoothly. They started talking in August, reached a tentative agreement in October and signed a deal in early December -- three months before the old contract expired.

Negotiators will return to the bargaining table next month. But 2008 may not be the same as 2003, when a union leader called the contract "a Cadillac plan" and the union membership overwhelmingly supported it.

kennelwood dog boarding
Provided by Kennelwood | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 18, 2008 - Winston the Boxer lives a pretty good life. He has his own room. He only drinks chilled Dasani water. "He won't eat until the food is warmed ahead of time," says Gregg Miller of Oak Grove, Mo. "He's such a demanding little thing."

But like many pet owners around the country, Miller says, "Nothing is too good for my dog."

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