Economy & Innovation

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

Saturday evening at a Schnucks in Des Peres.
Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

The retail grocery industry in the St. Louis region and throughout the country is more competitive than ever.

Local chains that have been around for decades are adapting to customer expectations as they face increasing pressure from big-name national stores and even discount outlets.

Aine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

If you don’t know Robert Reich from his term as the 22nd U.S. Secretary of Labor under the Clinton administration, perhaps you’ve heard his commentaries on “Marketplace.” The economist and scholar has written fifteen books on the state of the American economy and recently released his sixteenth, “Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few.”

Monsanto
St. Louis Public Radio

Monsanto announced Wednesday it would shed 2,600 employees in the next 18 to 24 months as the company deals with declining seed sales.

The seed giant reported a $495 million loss, or about $1.06 per share, for its fiscal fourth quarter.

It’s not clear how many jobs will be affected at its Creve Coeur-based headquarters. The cuts represent about 12 percent of Monsanto’s workforce, and spokeswoman Sara Miller said they will take place globally across all functions.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

The coal industry has hit hard times.

This summer several coal companies, including Alpha Natural Resources and Patriot Coal, filed for bankruptcy.

St. Louis-based Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private coal company, is not immune. The coal giant’s share price has fallen nearly 97 percent in the last five years. The company recently did a reverse stock split, bundling 15 shares into one in order to avoid share prices going below $1.

Peabody Energy spokesman Vic Svec said as a commodity business, they’re used to the volatility.

(courtesy Cortex/Chris Cross)

A little more West Coast is moving into St. Louis.

The music streaming company Pandora opened an office inside Cortex, St. Louis’ innovation district, on Monday.

"Pandora came looking for us," said Dougan Sherwood, co-founder and managing director of CIC St. Louis, which is housed in the @4240 building.

Sherwood said officials with Pandora, which is based in Oakland, Calif., wanted to replicate the culture they have at their headquarters.

Brian Rohlfing is co-founder of Watchdog Creative, the company behind the Stop Harassing Me Now app.
Watchdog Creative | provided

A new anti-bullying app available on Google Play is the brain child of a handful of St. Louis dads. The Stop Harassing Me Now app, which is also designed to combat domestic violence, records flagged calls and texts and stores them in a secure database in case they are needed as evidence.

Left: Audience members at an Ameren employee diversity festival clap when Ameren's $2.5 million donation is announced on Sat. Oct. 3, 2015 in St. Louis. Right: Rev. Earl Nance Jr. of Heat Up St. Louis shakes hands with Ameren CEO Warner Baxter.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

​Updated at 10 a.m. Oct. 4 with more detail on recipients - Ameren Corporation has pledged $2.5 million dollars to programs that support the Ferguson Commission’s priorities to reduce poverty and improve educational opportunities in St. Louis. The commission’s other priorities include justice and racial equity.

Ameren announced the funding Saturday during an employee festival celebrating diversity.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Five public schools in Missouri will have their cyber security measures reviewed as part of an initiative announced Wednesday by State Auditor Nicole Galloway.

She told reporters that more than 250 K-12 schools nationwide have suffered data breaches over the past 10 years. One of those was the Park Hill district in Platte County, near Kansas City, which is among the five being audited.

(U.S. Federal Reserve Board)

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen made opening remarks Wednesday at the Community Banking in the 21st Century Research and Policy Conference at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Yellen’s speech did not touch on monetary policy.

Aine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Tomorrow’s long-awaited opening of Ikea has some “St. Louis on the Air” Twitter followers already prepping for a lengthened commute. 

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

Ikea's newest blue and yellow box store that opens Wednesday on Vandeventer Avenue in St. Louis is the biggest sign yet of a building boom that’s transforming what was once a relatively sparse neighborhood into a bustling part of town.

As of right now, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger effectively has a five-person coalition on the St. Louis County Council -- including its two Republican members.
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council could hold a final vote tomorrow on legislation requiring landlords of rental properties in unincorporated St. Louis County to obtain licenses. The stated intent is to ensure proper maintenance of the buildings.

But the bill is receiving pushback from landlords and some housing advocates who contend the measure is too burdensome -- and could produce unintended consequences, including potential for discrimination.

A sign greets visitors to the main entrance of the Ikea store at Vandeventer Avenue and Forest Park Avenue opening 9 a.m. Sept. 30. The 380,000 square-foot store is the Swedish company's 41st U.S. location.
Nassim Benchaabane

The city of St. Louis may use its power of eminent domain against developer Paul McKee and 18 other land owners in its bid to retain the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

A resolution will be introduced to the St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Friday to allow the legal process to begin.

houses for sale, housing market
(Flickr, Tom Caswell)

A new economic report offers some good news for St. Louis... and some just okay news.

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis released its third-quarter St. Louis Burgundy Book on Tuesday. While the housing market in St. Louis is on a definite upswing, the labor market lags behind the U.S. labor market.

Wayne Crosslin | International Institute of St. Louis

The immigrant population in the St. Louis region has been declining in recent years.

The U.S. Census released 2014 numbers on Thursday. In St. Louis’ metropolitan statistical area it showed an estimated loss of about 10,000 foreign-born residents between 2011 and 2014.

Flickr | DIGITIZEDCHAOS

St. Charles County remains the fastest growing county in the St. Louis region, according to U.S. census data released Thursday.

New numbers from the 2014 American Community Survey show that the population of St. Charles County has grown by about 5 percent since 2010, from an estimated 361,602 to an estimated 379,493.

Demographics analyst and Saint Louis University professor Ness Sandoval points to the county’s relatively low cost of living as the cause of the growth.

(courtesy Donald Danforth Plant Science Center)

GMOs -- genetically modified organisms -- are not exactly a controversial subject at the Ag Innovation Showcase.

The three-day annual event is the place where the agriculture industry comes together to talk about new trends and startups to present to potential investors.

Yet this week at the seventh annual showcase at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, there was also discussion around how people outside of agriculture view the technology. The auditorium was packed for a panel discussion called "Transparency Without Prejudice--Bridging the GMO Divide."

Anheuser-Busch InBev Logo
AB InBev

Analysts are predicting a portion of SABMiller would likely have to be divested if a deal with Anheuser-Busch InBev comes to fruition.

The world’s two largest brewers are exploring the possibility of a combined company, which some industry observers believe would be valued around $250 billion.

From left to right: Dan Lovings, Phillip Johnson, and Andy Krumsieg.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Crumbling homes, missing bricks, dangerous streets, and crushing poverty — these details make up the overwhelming narrative of north St. Louis often offered by national media, local media and popular perception.

But Dan Lovings, a longtime St. Louis resident, moved to north St. Louis with the intention of owning and putting money into a house there. He meant to build a good home, increase property values, and join and contribute to the neighborhood. But to do so, he found, would require some individual initiative.

(courtesy Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.)

The Ag Innovation Showcase began on Monday at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis. In its seventh year, the three-day event includes panel discussions on trends in agriculture and technology and gives startups a chance to find investors and partners. 

This year, 19 early stage companies will present to possible investors. Those companies are focused on precision agriculture, renewables and sustainables, biological solutions and farming innovations.

Flickr | DIGITIZEDCHAOS

Hanging on to more international students they graduate from university could help large companies grow in St. Louis, but an obstacle course of legal and cultural hurdles often stand in the way.

That’s a key takeaway from a new report from researchers at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) and the St. Louis Mosaic Project, an organization that aims to make the region the fastest growing metro area for immigrants by 2020.

Granite City Steel Mill
Davd Schaper|NPR

Stakeholders on both sides of the Mississippi River are ramping up recruitment efforts due to a shortage of workers pursuing careers in construction. In the Metro East, those recruitment efforts also include manufacturing.

(courtesy GlobalHack)

The problems plaguing the municipal court system in St. Louis County have been in the spotlight a lot lately. This weekend, coders will come together at GlobalHack V to see if they can develop some tech solutions.

It’s a shift for GlobalHack, which has focused on corporate problem-solving since it launched two years ago. Executive director Matt Menietti said the non-profit’s goal is to improve the city’s tech community, but they wanted to see if they could do more.

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis-based Express Scripts, the largest pharmacy benefits management company in the U.S., said Wednesday that George Paz will retire as its CEO in May.

Tim Wentworth, who was named president of Express Scripts in February 2014, will replace Paz as CEO. Paz will remain chairman of the company.

Paz, 60, has been CEO for 11 years and oversaw its $29.1 billion acquisition of former competitor Medco in April 2012. Wentworth, 55, was the CEO of Medco's specialty pharmacy business before the merger.

(Flickr/MaximilianV)

Bring them here.

That’s the rallying cry of a march planned for this weekend in St. Louis asking the U.S. government to allow more Syrian refugees to resettle in the city.

The St. Louis chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is organizing the event Sunday evening in the Delmar Loop. Executive director Faizan Syed said more than 1,000 people have indicated they will attend.

Mapbox, OpenStreetMap

The first I-70 interchange west of the Missouri River is getting an $18 million update. Construction starts next spring to replace Fifth Street’s partial cloverleaf interchange with a diverging diamond.

It’s the latest project in a decade-long plan to improve the main corridor through the St. Louis region’s fastest growing county.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger is throwing his support behind St. Louis city’s site for the relocated National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

The Democrat sent a letter on Friday to NGA director Robert Cardillo. In it he proclaimed St. Louis County’s "unconditional support" for the 100-acre site in north St. Louis.

The Starliner will be assembled in Florida, with parts built at Boeing plants throughout the U.S.
Boeing

Boeing's St. Louis-based Defense, Space & Security division is providing more details about a project with NASA that's designed to help resume U.S.-based human spaceflight.

The capsule that will carry astronauts to the International Space Station and other low-orbit destinations has been named "Starliner."

Steelworker Jerry Koroby
Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

Updated September 1, 2015 at 1:23 p.m.

A contract between the United Steelworkers and U.S. Steel is set to expire midnight Tuesday, and a last-minute deal is not expected. The company employs roughly 2,000 in Granite City, and operations at the plant will likely continue past the deadline.

Members of the United Steelworkers say they are not planning a strike at this point and the company says it remains committed to operating "without disruption as labor contract talks continue."

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