Economy & Innovation

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

coal
(flickr, Atze van Dijk)

Bob Sandidge has been in the coal industry for 40 years.

But he’s never seen it this bad.

"You turn around and one company lays off people, and another company just filed for bankruptcy and another company is cutting way back,"” he said.

The co-owner of S & L Industries in Saline County, Illinois, Sandidge does contract work in coal mines. He said even small business owners in the area are beginning to feel the effects of coal’s downturn.

"It’s been pretty quiet around here," he said.

futureatlas.com | Flickr

A federal mandate and a record supply are leading to the low gas prices in the St. Louis area. The monitoring site GasBuddy.com says the average price at the pump is $1.56 a gallon (as of Feb. 12), roughly 60 cents cheaper than a year ago.

And even with a recent spike in the past couple of days, at least one expert says prices are still poised to go even lower.

barge shipping, Mississippi River
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

A barge and transportation industry group is sharply criticizing the president’s budget request for river infrastructure and upkeep.

Waterways Council Inc. called President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget request for the U.S. Army Corps the "most disappointing to date." The budget proposes $4.6 billion for the Corps’ civil works program, nearly 30 percent less than the current appropriation by Congress.

Peabody Energy Logo
Peabody Energy

Updated 12:49 p.m., Feb. 11 with Peabody Energy's earnings report - St. Louis-based Peabody Energy is  still speaking with creditors and is open to more asset sales as it deals with huge debt and a deep industry downturn. It is reporting a full-year loss of slightly more than $2 billion, compared to a loss of less than half that for 2014.

Chief Executive Officer Glenn Kellow says Peabody has made several moves to improve its financial picture, include selling operations in New Mexico and Colorado, but more needs to be done.

The U.S. Department of Defense has included an order of 16 F/A 18 Super Hornets in their budget for the next two years.
(via Boeing)

The new U.S. Department of Defense budget request could provide breathing room for Boeing production in St. Louis. 

Gateway ARch Sunshine
(photo by Tim Tolle via Flickr Creative Commons)

A long-time, St. Louis-based corporation and a local startup accelerator are teaming up.

Maritz and Capital Innovators announced Monday that they will co-lease space in the innovation district Cortex as part of a four-year partnership.

Cue the theme music from The Odd Couple.

Maritz is a 125-year-old sales and marketing services company, while Capital Innovators is a tech accelerator founded in 2010. Officials with each organization said they’ll gain from the other’s knowledge and exchange best practices.

Grace Baptist Church, on Cass Avenue, as seen from the site of the former Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Developer Paul McKee has held a $1 million option to buy the former Pruitt-Igoe site from the city of St. Louis for three years.

That option was set to expire later this month.

But the city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority extended McKee’s option for the second time in three years during a closed meeting. It was part of an agreement the city made with McKee to buy land he owns within the proposed site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency on St. Louis’ north side.

1. Northside developer McKee leaves city taxes unpaid.

Northside Regeneration owns 15-hundred acres in St. Louis.

But as St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman discovered... developer Paul McKee’s company has not paid property taxes on most of that land since 2012.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-University City, took a House colleague and local media members for a bus tour of St. Louis’ proposed site for the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

Just a few hours before, the city moved a sign protesting the NGA and police arrested two protesters.

On the same day the company paid out dividends to shareholders of 54 cents, Monsanto held its annual meeting.

Shareholders elected 13 members of the board of directors to one-year terms. They also approved the company’s executive compensation plan, ratified the hiring of accounting firm Deloitte and Touche, and approved the company’s performance goals.

Three shareowner proposals failed.

The Ferris Wheel moving to Branson from Chicago
Terence Faircloth | Flickr

It’s not a hoax—Chicago’s Navy Pier Ferris wheel is moving to Branson. The Track Family Fun Parks is paying $2.5 million to install the wheel in the Ozarks tourist town.

Known for its go-carts and bumper boats, CEO Craig Wescott said The Track had been thinking of adding a Ferris wheel for some time, and jumped on the opportunity to buy the Navy Pier wheel.

Updated 2:30 p.m.,  Jan. 29, to include court hearing information - Several property owners were in St. Louis Circuit Court Friday regarding land they own within a proposed site for a federal spy agency.

The city of St. Louis has been able to reach agreement with owners for nearly all the land it needs for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. But for 31 parcels, there’s still no resolution and the city has taken those property owners to court in condemnation proceedings.

Front of building for HCI Alternatives
(courtesy HCI Alternatives)

The 5,000-square foot facility is the first of its kind in the Metro East.

One of just 23 medical cannabis dispensaries licensed in Illinois, HCI Alternatives opened its doors at noon on Monday in Collinsville.

"It’s been a very long road, and we’re all really excited," said Scott Abbott, director of HCI security and compliance, "and I know a lot of the patients who have been calling us are equally excited."

While former Governor Pat Quinn signed Illinois’ Compassionate Care Act into law in August 2013, legal marijuana sales did not begin until November.

U.S. Steel in Granite City
Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 1:23 p.m., Jan. 27 with U.S. Steel earnings - U.S. Steel is not anticipating a strong year and that could further cloud the uncertain future for its Granite City operation. Under current conditions, the company says it expects lower results this year, compared to the $1.5 billion loss it posted for all of 2015.

Sandy Evans helps her parents clear out the basement of the house she grew up in on Oak Court in Arnold on Monday afternoon. Floodwater from the Meramec River damaged the basement, which housed a spare bedroom and a bathroom.
file photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 10:45 a.m., Jan. 24 with information from FEMA—Hundreds of thousands of federal dollars are available to Missourians whose homes were damaged in flooding between Dec. 23 and Jan. 9, now that President Barrack Obama has declared 33 counties a major disaster area.

But figuring out whether you qualify for aid can be confusing. So we enlisted the help of Jono Anzalone, who oversees American Red Cross disaster relief for Missouri, to create a FAQ for FEMA applications.

Monsanto Co. filed suit against a California state agency Thursday to keep it from including glyphosate on a list of cancer-causing chemicals.

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment said in September it planned to put the herbicide on its Proposition 65 list. That list, created in 1986, includes chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer.

Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide that St. Louis-based Monsanto patented in the 1970s under the RoundUp label.

Courtesy | Ameren Corporation

Promoting diversity within a corporation is nothing new.

But Ameren Corporation announced Thursday it will make its new "Discussion Across Differences" videos and materials available to other groups, free of charge.

(courtesy NGA)

Mayor Francis Slay tweeted on Tuesday that he’s “knocking on doors” in Washington, D.C., regarding the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

The mayor is in the nation’s capital for the annual meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors. In an interview Tuesday, he said he often uses the opportunity to check in with Missouri’s congressional delegation, and this time is no different.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

Saint Louis University’s Shared Use Kitchen is helping food entrepreneurs take a crack at starting their own businesses.

Housed in the basement of the Salus Center, the 6,000 square foot kitchen is used by culinary students and staffers who make breakfast and lunch for six area schools. The university in 2011 opened the kitchen to people looking to start a food-based business.

Quincy, Illinois Logo
Great River Economic Development Foundation

The city of Quincy and Adams County are rolling out a new brand, designed to help tell the area's story and boost economic development efforts.

"Right on Q" was unveiled Wednesday night during the Great River Economic Development Foundation annual meeting. It essentially replaces "Life is Good," which was first used by Adams County roughly 20 years ago.

A rendering of the planned food stands in railroad cars and 200-foot-high Ferris wheel at Union Station.
Lodging Hospitality Management

The company that owns St. Louis' Union Station will begin work Feb. 1 on a major makeover of the historic railroad hub.

Mike Mozart | Flickr

Save-A-Lot, the discount grocery chain headquartered in Earth City, could soon be publicly traded as a stand-alone company.

Minneapolis-based SuperValu filed paperwork this week with the Securities and Exchange Commission to spin off its subsidiary.

Its shareholders will own about 80.1 percent of Save-A-Lot, which will be publicly traded. SuperValu will retain 19.9 percent ownership. 

Facing increasing pressure from declining seed sales, St. Louis-based Monsanto has announced plans to cut more jobs from its global work force.

Under what the company describes as a Revised Restructuring Plan, it will eliminate 3,600 positions through the end of fiscal year 2018. Monsanto's original initiative, announced last October, called for 2,600 job cuts.

A view of the outside of the Peabody Energy building in St. Louis.
St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 11:30 a.m., Jan. 5 with details of new agreement - A health fund for retired miners will stay solvent for at least 10 more months.

Peabody Energy and the United Mine Workers of America have reached an agreement. The company will pay $75 million into the health fund this year, but will not have to pay $70 million next year.

Jim McKelvey, Co-founder, Square
Scott Pham|KBIA

It has been a big year for an emerging technology company with St. Louis roots.

Square went public on the New York Stock Exchange a few weeks ago. It also opened a St. Louis office, which is expected to employ more than 200 in five years.

Athrasher | Flickr

The end of the year is looming and with it the end of the tax year as well.  Between holiday shopping, parties and travel it seems like the coming year’s taxes have been the furthest from the brain. Lucky for you, there are still steps you can take to lessen your tax burden in 2016 before 2015 is even over.

Sparkle Burns, a community coach with Jobs Plus, entertains Kylie Short while the nine-month-old's mother works on her resume at Clinton-Peabody's Al Chappelle Center.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

At 53, Lucretia Hollins is older than your average cheerleader. But that, in essence, is what she’s paid 20 hours a week to be. Hollins encourages her neighbors to sign up — and stick with — a new job-training program at their public housing complex, the Clinton-Peabody in St. Louis' near south-side.

“It’s not so much about the paycheck. It’s about being able to help somebody else,” said Hollins. “Because I know where I was at, and you can’t let your circumstances in life take you out.”

gift card generic
Mike Mozart | Flickr

Thousands of Missourians have leftover gifts to reclaim from the state treasurer’s office this holiday season.

According to Treasurer Clint Zweifel, the state is holding nearly $9 million worth of gift cards and gift certificates that have been dormant for at least five years.

“We all know what it’s like during the holiday season. You get gifts; you get gift cards. You set them aside; you might forget about them,” he said. “Or you might lose them in the travels that you have. We’ve returned $145,000 this year alone in gift cards.”

LockerDome Logo
LockerDome

A St. Louis-based social media technology company is moving into a much larger space as it prepares to add 300 jobs over the next five years.

LockerDome's headquarters will remain downtown on Washington Avenue, but plans to be in the new space by the end of next year. It will be 18,000 square feet as opposed to the company's current 6,800 square-foot office.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon at World Wide Technology groundbreaking
Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

One of the St. Louis region's most prominent technology companies is hoping to use some workplace culture elements of some of the big players in Silicon Valley in its new headquarters in Maryland Heights.

World Wide Technology plans to open the space for 1,000 workers in 2017. It will anchor a $95 million revitalization effort for Westport Plaza.

Company officials held a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday.

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