Economy & Innovation | St. Louis Public Radio

Economy & Innovation

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

Danforth Plant Science Center is still growing after a decade

Sep 26, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 26, 2008 - This Sunday, Sept. 28, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center celebrated its 10th birthday with tours, games, science demonstrations, music and, of course, cake. Opening the greenhouses to the community, the center's employees invited everyone to explore the center and see the progress made toward achieving its mission -- to improve the human condition through plant science.

Commentary: Financial bailout: Words of caution

Sep 26, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 26, 2008 - At this stage it is imprudent to speculate on the intricate details that the government’s bailout plan will include. There are, however, several broader issues to consider as the plan takes shape.

First, the rescue plan should not be used as an opportunity to extend the role of government in other areas of the economy.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 25, 2008 - David Wolk spends his days on Cherokee Street with severed doll heads, pink-haired alligators and a messy desk.

The owner and founder of the almost 1-year-old, Cranky Yellow Publishing, Wolk started his business as much to indulge his creative fancies as to promote the work of unusual artists, musicians and writers. Wolk organized this summer's Crammed Organisms Plush show, featuring hundreds of funky stuff animals.

A primer on the financial bailout

Sep 25, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 25, 2008 - To help make sense of the current economic crisis, the Beacon asked local experts in finance and investing for their answers to basic questions. The experts are: Stuart Greenbaum, former dean of the Washington University School of Business and now Bank of America emeritus professor of managerial leadership; Radhakrishnan Gopalan, assistant professor of finance at Washington University; Rick Hill of Hill Investment Group in Clayton; and Pamela Kuehling, a financial planner with Smith Barney. Here are their responses:

Part 2 of 3- This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 25, 2008- The collapse of some of the nation's oldest financial institutions started on Main Street America with hundreds and thousands of homeowners such as 56-year-old Maureen McKenzie of Kirkwood who in May lost to foreclosure the small ranch house that had been in her family since it was built after World War II. How could this happen? The answer is ... complicated. The Beacon will unravel the story of how Maureen McKenzie of Kirkwood, Mo., lost her 900 square feet of the American Dream. 

Green in Benton Park

Sep 24, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 24, 2008 - When developer-contractor Patty Maher was picking out the flooring for a historic home she was rehabbing in the Benton Park neighborhood, she opted for oak from Missouri over bamboo from Asia.

Her reason was practical as well as philosophical. Maher, president of Tiger Lily Development and Clover Leaf General Contracting, wanted to garner points that would help get her project certified as green. “I got a point for using Missouri oak wood floors and not shipping in bamboo from Asia,” she said.

Green in Kimmswick

Sep 24, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 24, 2008 - Jill Crary has only praise for the green home at the edge of Kimmswick she’s living in. “It’s wonderful. I love it,” she said.

But it’s not hers to keep. Crary and her husband, Don, are guinea pigs of sorts. They are the first people to live in the Energy Star 5 Plus, LEED-Platinum certified house her father Jordan Heiman and his partner built to educate people about green homes.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 22, 2008 - What's the prospect, or wisdom, of a giant, lumbering bank holding company merging with a giant, staggering investment banking company?

When it comes to Wachovia Corp. and Morgan Stanley, the answer is "no one knows," because the economic landscape continues to shift dramatically and often.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 22, 2008- Seventeen years ago, George Gould convened a meeting in his family room.

Present that day were little girls in tan uniforms, a mom, who was Gould's co-leader, and another mom who just wanted to see what the male leader of her daughter's Brownie troop was really doing. Mostly, it was building birdhouses or visiting the water treatment plant or taking field trips to bakeries. Eventually, the curious mom stopped coming.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 21, 2008 - The economic storm that blew in like a hurricane last week has been years in making.

The full effects of the crisis are still unknown. While Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke insist that the bail-out's cost to taxpayers will be in the hundreds of billions of dollars, some economists think the likely price tag will be in the $1 trillion to $2 trillion range. Furthermore, the fallout from the crisis is likely to include a massive accumulation of debt, which would result in a serious drag on economic growth.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 19, 2008 - Metro's top official is hoping that an audit on the agency Missouri Auditor Susan Montee released this week won't dissuade St. Louis County voters from passing a half-cent sales tax on the November ballot.

Commentary: Welcome to the Ownership Society

Sep 18, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 18, 2008 - I do not know about you, but I am in a pickle about the economy. On one hand, I read as of earlier today (05:13:33 PM GMT Sept. 18, 2008, to be exact), my share of the national debt is $31,642.25. And that's on top of all my other bills!

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 18, 2008 - It is the surprising incident that gets you. The unseen car that nearly hits you when crossing the street. The bolt of lighting out of the blue. But while the surprising magnitude of the mortgage market collapse exacerbated problems for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mess wasn't completely unexpected.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 16, 2008 - Bailouts for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and American International Group. Bankruptcy for Lehman Brothers. The buyout of Merrill Lynch. The busted IndyMac Bancorp.

Given the continuing assault on the financial services industry, could Wachovia Corp. be the next domino to fall?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 15, 2008 - Venerable financial names are being swallowed or going broke, the stock market is heading south and the financial websites and cable networks might as well have a black border around their screens.

What should you do? What can you do? When will things improve?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 11, 2008 - Sales of name-brand scooters -- motorcycles that typically have small engines and a step-through design -- have increased for years as gas prices crept higher and higher. And more options are available for potential buyers with Vespa returning to scooter production and new manufacturers entering the market. Roughly 157,000 scooters sold nationwide in 2007, compared to 12,000 in 1998, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council, a trade association.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 11, 2008 - For nearly 20 years, dating back to graduate school and a visit to a dentist's office in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Jefferson Garland Mansell has been fascinated with St. Louis' historic architecture - but always from afar. Not anymore. 

Later this month, Mansell will move into a renovated historic loft building in downtown St. Louis and begin work as the new executive director of the Landmarks Association of St. Louis.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 9, 2008 - How will Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shareholders be impacted?

Existing shareholders of Fannie and Freddie would lose out as the Treasury is unlikely to support the two firms to benefit the existing shareholders. The current proposal does not wipe out existing equity, but government will get paid before the shareholders see any money. So for these shareholders to make money on their investment, the housing market has to recover drastically.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 8, 2008 -  The slow St. Louis area housing market won't immediately get better -- or worse -- with the federal government's takeover of troubled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but more loan money could eventually become available, say local analysts.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 3, 2008 - As they worked to fill the day's orders, the women of the One World Cafe punched out pita wheels and rolled coconut macaroons. The cafe is one of St. Louis' "social enterprises" -- businesses run by or through social service agencies and non-profits to further their mission while making money. In this case, the One World Cafe does catering jobs while teaching job skills to immigrant women and female ex-offenders.

Commentary: Diversity makes good business sense

Sep 1, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 1, 2008 - Many people think that diversity in the business world is solely a numbers game. It can be thought of that way, but a program that only looks at numbers usually fails. The first step is to define your terms. What do you mean by diversity? It is often helpful to have a broad definition, which can be broken down to focus on specific areas. For example, if you define diversity as “all the ways in which we differ,” you will need to then provide specifics that are relevant for your group.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 28, 2008 - As Grand Center has picked up steam, unveiling ever more outlets for the arts - particularly since the new millennium, thanks to the Contemporary Art Museum and the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts - any naysayers or nitpickers have been largely silenced. Except that, to this day, what has seemed missing was no longer the grandeur of the endeavor, but a centering force behind it. There has never been a flagship building or venue to cohere the district.

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.

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