Economy & Innovation

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

Flickr/Shane McGraw

Some crops in Illinois are under water. Some have yet to be planted.

After the wettest June on record, officials in Illinois with the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week they’re seeking a federal disaster declaration to help farmers with flood-damaged crops.

"This has been the absolute worst spring for getting anything done that I’ve seen in 40 years of farming. It seemed like just as the ground was drying up, it’d rain again," said Greg Guenther, who farms east of Belleville.

UberX says it will recruit 2,000 new drivers in the first year after local regulators permit the company and other smart-phone-based ride services to operate in St. Louis.

To spread the word and garner support, Uber has teamed up with St. Louis branch of the NAACP, the St. Louis Agency of Training and Employment (SLATE) and the employment initiative Ferguson 1000.

Raymond Evans,left; Paul Jordan, right
Alex Heuer

Every day, billions of internet users are inevitably vulnerable to hackers from across the world.

While regular citizens are susceptible to attacks, so is the government. Professionals at Scott Air Force Base are tasked with ensuring our systems are secure and some of those airmen are passionate about cybersecurity outside of work, and on a personal level.

futureatlas.com | Flickr

If you’ve noticed lower gas prices when filling up, you are not imagining things.

GasBuddy.com's most-recent survey shows the average price for a gallon in the St. Louis region is about 20 cents lower than a week ago.

(Updated at 10:55 a.m. July 14, 2015 with result of Board of Aldermen vote)

Plans for a Tim Hortons restaurant in Town & Country are uncertain following a rejection by city leaders.

The Board of Aldermen has voted against the request to place one of the donut, bakery and coffee shops in the suburb west of St. Louis.

Officials with Show Me Hospitality, the St. Louis-area franchisee for Tim Hortons, tell St. Louis Public Radio they are not sure about the developers’ plans moving forward.

courtesy National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

Buy it and they will come.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved a measure Friday to take a $20 million loan in order to buy land within the proposed site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. The loan will use one--- possibly two---city buildings as collateral. The measure passed with a vote of 18-9 with one abstention.

The NGA, however, will not choose among four possible locations in the St. Louis region until next year.

(courtesy Masonry Association)

The Bank of Washington has loaned developer Paul McKee at least $34 million for his Northside Regeneration project, and possibly as much as $62 million.

The series of 17 loans from the Washington, Mo., bank was made to several of McKee’s holding companies and to Northside Regeneration between 2006 and 2012. The bank, by its own calculations, now holds more than 1,500 parcels as collateral, or about 78 percent of Northside Regeneration’s real estate in St. Louis.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

It was a much different scene than 11 months ago at 9420 West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson.

The parking lot of the former QuikTrip was ground zero for protests in the days following Michael Brown’s death on August 9. The burned-out shell of the store and graffiti was a reminder of the looting and violence that descended on the street.

With the Gateway Arch grounds renovations nearing completion, the Great Rivers Greenway District is gearing up for another big project. The district and the city of St. Louis presented initial plans to revitalize the north riverfront Wednesday night at a public meeting.

The basic idea is for Great Rivers Greenway to spur investment in the area by creating a continuous waterfront park along the Mississippi from Laclede’s Landing north to the Stan Musial Bridge.

Anna Crosslin
Courtesy of the Intentional Institute

Picking up your roots in one country and moving to a land with different customs and language is a daunting prospect. That story is not unfamiliar to Anna Crosslin, president and CEO of the International Institute of St. Louis.  

“I am a Japanese American and have grown up with my foot in two cultures. So what I have done for a living has been very grounded in what my personal mission has been, which has been building bridges between two worlds,” Crosslin said.

St. Louis regional leaders launched an initiative entitled the St. Louis Mosaic Project to make the region the fastest growing metro area for immigrants by 2020. Now in its third year, the goal of the project is to promote regional prosperity through immigration and innovation.

Geoff Turk, U.S. Steel
U.S. Steel

Steel produced in Granite City is part of an international trade case that is subject to new regulations signed by President Barack Obama.

Paul Hohmann, Vanishing STL
Áine O'Connor

When driving through parts of St. Louis City, one cannot help but notice the plight of urban decay. Like many other major cities across the country, St. Louis has suffered from a declining population, fleeing middle-class and other signs of urban abandonment. Additionally, in the midst of the urban decay lies the disappearing architectural history of many deteriorating buildings in the city.

Energizer Bunny
Energizer Holdings Inc.

St. Louis-based Energizer Holdings Inc. is splitting into two companies. The complicated move was announced in April 2014 and takes effect July 1.

It is the beginning of a new chapter for a company that dates back more than 100 years with the Wilkinson Sword brand razor.

Stephen Miller wants Missourians to see Interstate 70 as more than just a way to travel from St. Louis to Kansas City – or as a means to get to the glorious statue of Jim the Wonder Dog in Marshall.

The chairman of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission wants to spark a public conversation about restructuring the widely traveled highway. That includes figuring out a revenue source to pay for what he says are much-needed repairs.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said Monday he believes it would make “good sense” to locate the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency at Scott Air Force Base due to both sites’ work on cyber-security.

St. Clair County officials are hoping to lure the NGA to a 200-acre site on the base when the agency relocates from its current location in downtown St. Louis. The base is the only Illinois location being considered for the agency’s new facility alongside three other Missouri sites, including St. Louis’ north side.

(courtesy of Roberto Garcia)

The entrepreneurs in this summer’s Arch Grants recipients group come from a wide range of backgrounds.

(You can see the list of 11 grant winners here.)

Since its launch in 2012 the not-for-profit organization has given equity-free grants of $50,000 to 66 startups, for a total of more $3.65 million. Executive Director Ginger Imster said this class is among the most diverse. She said nine of the 11 startups are minority or women-led.

courtesy National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

The city of St. Louis is a step closer to getting a $20 million loan to help it buy land at the proposed National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency site on the north side.

The Board of Aldermen’s Housing, Urban Development and Zoning committee voted for the measure 5- 4 on Friday. Yet some committee members expressed concern about paying the area’s largest land owner, developer Paul McKee, for the property.

A new bridge over the Missouri River is opening Monday morning, underscoring how much St. Louis and St. Charles Counties have grown together over the past three decades.

State and local officials gathered Thursday to cut a ceremonial ribbon on the new eastbound span of the I-64 Daniel Boone Bridge.

St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann told an audience of about 50 people that the bridge is the 7th river crossing built between the two counties in the last 37 years.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

Developer Paul McKee of St. Louis is losing control of another project.

A federal judge has ordered that a receiver be put in charge of McKee’s Three Springs at Shiloh development in St. Clair County, Illinois.

The 193-acre development was supposed to include a mix of retail, office and residential buildings in Shiloh. The site has mostly sat empty.

File photo of Mercy Hospital in St. Louis.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 10:25 am June 25, 2015 with details of St. Louis area job cuts and comment from Mercy Health President and CEO 

Mercy Health says it has eliminated 126 positions in the St. Louis area.

The reductions are part of a previous announcement to cut nearly 350 jobs system-wide.

The Chesterfield-based health care provider has operations in several states including Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Caleres Logo
Courtesy of Caleres

When it comes to a successful company, having a significant brand is essential to generating business. It is often a key factor in setting one business apart from another.

After 137 years, the historic Brown Shoe Company in St. Louis changed its name to Caleres. With the help of Brian Collins, executive creative director and founder of Collins, a brand consultancy company, Caleres decided to rebrand itself with new ambitions in mind.

courtesy National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

The city of St. Louis is estimating it will cost $130 million to bring the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to the north side.

The figure was released Wednesday during a meeting of the Board of Aldermen’s Housing, Urban Development and Zoning committee. That money would come primarily from city and state sources, although those were not made public.

Monsanto
St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 12:30 pm June 24, 2015 with comments from Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant

The chief executive officer of St. Louis-based Monsanto says the company is still committed to putting together a deal to acquire a European agricultural chemical manufacturer.

Interest in Syngenta remains high, but Hugh Grant has told analysts on Wednesday that Monsanto is keeping options option in case a deal is not reached.

"This isn’t something we’re gonna turn into an epic struggle," he stated during the company's quarterly earnings conference call.

Our previous story from June 23, 2015:

The chairman of Syngenta is laying out the general terms for any possible acquisition by St. Louis-based Monsanto.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

The ride-sharing service UberX has yet to persuade local regulators why its drivers don’t need government background checks and drug tests to begin offering rides in St. Louis and St. Louis County.

Metropolitan Taxicab Commissioners met Tuesday to consider the pros and cons of revising its vehicle-for-hire code to permit UberX and other such transportation network companies (TNC).

About two dozen people attended the meeting to show their support or opposition including representatives from the local taxi companies and independent entrepreneurs.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Several of Paul McKee’s properties within the proposed footprint of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency were sold at auction on Tuesday.

The company that put the 46 parcels on the auction block - Titan Fish Two - had the winning bid of $3.2 million. It’s the same company that filed suit against McKee’s Northside Regeneration in April, claiming it’s owed more than $17 million over defaulted loans.

(image from GEO St. Louis)

The city of St. Louis is considering taking out a loan of up to $20 million to help buy land for the proposed north city site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

bill, sponsored by 5th Ward Alderwoman Tammika Hubbard, outlines how the city would use three buildings as collateral for the loan. The bill was introduced to the Board of Aldermen on Friday.

(via Flickr/iChaz)

Regions Bank is now offering free financial counseling in north St. Louis County through a partnership with a national non-profit called Operation Hope.

Operation Hope counselor Bonita Williams says it will help anyone who asks improve their credit score, become more financially stable and work towards goals like buying a home or starting a business—no strings attached.

St. Louis’ efforts to raise the minimum wage of $7.65 have sparked a host of questions. One of the biggest is whether St. Louis County would follow suit. It's a pressing concern because some businesses have said they would move to the county if the city approves Alderman Shane Cohn's bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger has now provided a definitive answer to that question: No.

A new media campaign launched by the nonprofit St. Louis Civic Pride Foundation on Thursday is encouraging St. Louisans to tell their "positive and authentic" stories about the region on social media.

The "Take Pride in St. Louis" campaign features a website where people can share their stories, as well as broadcast and print ads of St. Louis celebrities like Bob Costas, Joe Buck and Jackie Joyner-Kersee extolling the region's virtues.

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