Economy & Innovation

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

At hundreds of libraries across the U.S., 3-D printers can sometimes be heard whirring in the background, part of an effort to encourage interest in the new technology and foster DIY "maker spaces."

In some libraries, officials have begun to set restrictions on the 3-D printers amid concerns about how they'll be used.

At the University City Public Library in St. Louis, Patrick Wall recently printed a green plastic sword from the game Minecraft.

Katelyn Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

The blue and yellow exterior is almost complete, and the store is on track to open this fall in Midtown St. Louis.

We’re talking about the IKEA, of course.

The Swedish furnishings company’s arrival in St. Louis has been long awaited and much anticipated. It will be the 41st store in the U.S., but the first in Missouri.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Juliàn Castro announces that St. Louis was one of eight communiteis picked for his agency's "Promise Zone" program.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Juliàn Castro announced Tuesday that parts of the St. Louis region were designated by his agency as a Promise Zone.

Speaking at the MET Center in Wellston, Castro said that St. Louis was one of eight communities picked for HUD’s program. Among other things, the program gives selected cities greater access to federal money and manpower to redevelop struggling areas.

historic preservation, Landmarks Association of St. Louis
(courtesy of Landmarks Association of St. Louis)

The Cupples 7 building in downtown St. Louis was on the National Register of Historic Places, but that didn’t save it from the wrecking ball.

The nine-story building was torn down in 2013 after becoming so unstable the city considered it a public safety risk.

In the wake of the demolition, Landmarks Association of St. Louis decided it was time to create a low-interest loan program for historic preservation.

LaunchCode, community center, tech jobs
(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

A former state unemployment center on St. Louis’ north side could soon become LaunchCode’s new community center.

The non-profit that focuses on training people in technology and placing them in jobs, made the announcement Friday at the former Nathaniel J. ‘Nat’ Rivers State Office Building at 4811 Delmar Avenue.

"Take a look at this building right now," said LaunchCode co-founder Jim McKevley while pointing to the beige walls, "then come back in a year, and I guarantee it will not look like this."

(courtesy Ameren)

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment filed a federal lawsuit Thursday over a federal agency’s renewal for Ameren’s Callaway Nuclear Power Plant.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio/Mapbox, OpenStreetMap)

It’s not the first time.

Developer Paul McKee is facing a $17 million lawsuit over defaulted loans connected to the Northside Regeneration project in St. Louis, and he owes more than $750,000 in property taxes to the city.

But in previously reported but somewhat forgotten news, McKee and his company, Hazelwood Logistics Center, LLC, were ordered to pay a bank $32 million in a federal judgment back in 2011. So far, just a small fraction has been paid.

Rep. Lacy Clay
St. Louis Public Radio

African Americans continue to face long-term and persistent inequities when it comes to employment, income and wealth, according to a report by the Congressional Black Caucus and the Democratic staff of the Joint Economic Committee.  The report, Economic Challenges in the Black Community, says the recession took a greater financial toll on African-American households than it did on white households, increasing the disparity in wealth between blacks and whites.

(Flickr, Paul Sableman)

Closing economic disparities in the St. Louis region is one key to moving past Ferguson.

That was the message at a panel discussion Thursday called "Eight Months Post-Ferguson: The Journey from Recovery to Rebuilding." Several of the panelists said sharp economic contrasts contributed to issues in Ferguson, but are even more stark in other communities.

The Harambee Youth Training program, which teaches kids tuckpointing skills, received a HUD-funded community development block grant from the St. Louis city's community development administration in 2014.
Courtesy Harambee Youth Training Program

St. Louis highlighted accomplishments this week that it made using millions in federal grant money. These include funding 13 youth programs, developing about 325 new or rehabbed housing units, and hosting other programs for low to moderate income residents last year.

Developer Paul McKee outlined his plans for an urgent care hospital at 25th St. and Maiden Ln. in July of 2014.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

The company with ambitions to bring St. Louis' north side back to life is responding to a lawsuit filed Monday in St. Louis County that alleges Northside Regeneration defaulted on loans and owes more than $17 million.

Paul McKee's company released a statement Friday that said the suit, filed by Titan Fish Two LLC, was meant to "embarrass" Northside.

Gov. Jay Nixon speaks on Thursday at St. Louis Building Trades headquarters in south St. Louis. Labor unions agreed to work 24-hour shifts with no overtime to build a riverfront stadium in St. Louis.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

The caretakers for the Edward Jones Dome have initiated a lawsuit to see whether St. Louis residents will have to vote to approve public financing of a proposed riverfront stadium.

It’s a legal maneuver that seeks to clarify a sticking point in obtaining the money for a project that could keep professional football in St. Louis.

Photo of 25 Street and Maiden Lane, within the footprint of the Northside Regeneration project.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Developer Paul McKee owns more than 1,500 acres on the north side of St. Louis, but for the last two years he has not paid property taxes on nearly any of it.

In examining real estate property taxes, St. Louis Public Radio discovered McKee’s company, Northside Regeneration LLC, owes the city more than $750,000 in taxes for 2013 and 2014. That total includes nearly $120,000 in interest and penalties.

The developer acknowledged the tax bill and said it would get paid.

(Flickr, Paul Sableman)

It’s getting increasingly difficult for renters to save money for their first home.

That’s according to a National Association of Realtors report released last month that found rental costs have outpaced wages in many cities. The study looked at 70 metropolitan areas from 2009 to 2014.

St. Louis certified public accountant Lance Weiss talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Tuesday at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

State and federal income taxes are due April 15, making this the time to be asking those pressing tax questions.

Missouri needs more internet service producers to connect underground fiber networks to customers to increase high-speed internet access, a new FCC report says.
Dan Chace | Flickr

Nearly a third of Missourians - or about 1.8 million people - lack access to high-speed internet, according to a report last month from the Federal Communications Commission. That means Missouri ranks 15th among all states for the highest percentage of residents not served by fiber networks that can deliver such high speeds.

The proposed site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in north St. Louis.
National Geospatial Intelligence Agency | provided

The city of St. Louis expects to start making offers in early May on the properties within the proposed site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

That includes land owned by developer Paul McKee, who owns more than half of the parcels in the 100-acre area.

Until now, it had been unclear whether the city or McKee would sell the land to the federal government should the intelligence agency choose the north city site. McKee owns more than 350 parcels within the site just north of Pruitt-Igoe.

a rolling dollar bill
dleafy | sxc.hu

Things are on the upswing for the St. Louis regional economy.

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’ Burgundy Book, the quarterly summary of economic conditions, shows positive trends in the last quarter of 2014. That includes a declining unemployment rate, stronger home sales, and a spike in manufacturing exports.

Kevin Kliesen, a business economist and research officer at the Fed, said St. Louis’ economy is beginning to improve at a faster pace.

This property on N. Grand Blvd has been in the city's land bank since 2001. It's one of more than 3,000 abandoned buildings the city is trying to find a use for or sell.
City of St. Louis | LRA website

St. Louis’ strategy for combating blight and reducing the amount of abandoned property in the city is getting revamped. A team from the city spent much of last week discussing the issue during a Center for Community Progress event held at Harvard University.

(Flickr, David Goehring)

A solar power project slated for East St. Louis is waiting on the Illinois General Assembly to pass specific legislation so it can get funding to move forward.

The QuikTrip on West Florissant Ave. was looted and burned on Aug. 10, the day after Michael Brown's death.
Jason Rosenbaum|St. Louis Public Radio

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis will build a new center on the site of a burned-out QuikTrip in Ferguson.

Judy Baxter, via Flickr

A new study shows low-income children in Missouri will have a harder time getting ahead compared with their wealthier peers than those in past decades.

The groundbreaking for the Loop Trolley took place Thursday.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

With bands, balloons, and the clang of a bell, the Loop Trolley project officially broke ground on Thursday.

Found to be in critical shape, MoDOT closed the I-44 Outer Road bridge over the Gasconade River in Laclede County back in December due to deterioration.
Courtesy Missouri Department of Transportation

Thirty-eight bridges in the greater St. Louis area are just "a step or two from being closed" due to deterioration, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation.

They are among the nearly 600 bridges statewide that officials say are currently rated in poor to serious condition, but aren't funded in the state's five-year plan for improvements. 

An artist's rendering of The Standard, a 465-bedroom private student housing development going up on Forest Park Avenue.
(courtesy of Sangita Capital Partners)

Just kitty-corner from the new IKEA building in Midtown St. Louis, a new private student housing development is taking shape.

CoderGirl offers free weekly meetings that are meant to bring women with an interest in computer programming together with female mentors who can guide them.
Courtesy of LaunchCode

President Barack Obama on Monday announced an initiative called TechHire that will train and connect workers to tech jobs.

In unveiling the $100 million program at the National League of Cities conference in Washington, D.C., the president highlighted LaunchCode, a St. Louis nonprofit started in 2013.

Derek Laney, Michael McPhearson, and Jeff Ordower (from left to right) were among protesters outside the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis on Thursday.
(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

What recovery?

That was the question being asked Thursday by a small group of activists outside the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

About a dozen protesters called on the Fed to focus on unemployment, especially among minorities, rather than on keeping inflation rates low. They said if the Federal Open Market Committee raises the interest rate this year, as anticipated, it would likely mean fewer jobs.

Brewing tank outside The Schlafly Tap Room in downtown St. Louis.
Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

The increasingly competitive craft beer sector has at least two high-profile St. Louis companies looking to make inroads in Chicago, one of the largest markets in North America.

Urban Chestnut and Schlafly recently struck separate distribution deals to start selling in Chicago, which the Brewers Association says is the third largest overall beer market in the country.

Developer Paul McKee outlined his plans for an urgent care hospital at 25th St. and Maiden Ln. in July of last year.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Developer Paul McKee is asking the state of Missouri for permission to relocate a proposed urgent care facility to the former Pruitt-Igoe site in north St. Louis.

social security card corner
file photo (Kelsey Proud/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated March 12, 2015 with a response from I Am My Sister’s Keeper

According to the woman behind I Am My Sister’s Keeper, Bella Beaudreux, the organization is not a scam.

“I got into this because I just wanted to help women who were in trouble,” Beaudreux said. “I never gave anybody information that wasn’t true. I said this is where we are and this is where we want to go.”

Beaudreux first said that individuals applying for jobs filled in their social security number as part of the application. When pressed about the fact that most employers don’t collect social security numbers until the first day of work in order to fill out tax paperwork, Beaudreux paused and then said that maybe her applications didn’t ask for social security numbers after all.

“Then maybe I’m wrong then,” Beaudreux said. “My mind is boggled right now. But I know this: I did nothing wrong. I never even looked at the information.”

Beaudreux said that anyone who filled out an application is welcome to come and pick it up or request that it be shredded. She said that she still feels called to help women who have been abused but doesn’t know whether the safe house will become a reality anytime soon.

“Maybe it won’t be tomorrow; maybe it won’t be a year from now. But I won’t give up,” Beaudreux said.

Beaudreux said she has not collected donations from anyone and never promised payment for attending meetings.

She also said that she is not responsible for the I Am My Sister’s Keeper website incorrectly stating that it was a member of the United Way because she did not build the website. The website has since been taken down.  

Original story:

An organization claiming to be opening a safe house for abused women in St. Louis may be a scam. The Better Business Bureau of St. Louis issued a warning Wednesday about “I Am My Sister’s Keeper.”

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