Corinne Ruff | St. Louis Public Radio

Corinne Ruff

Economic Development Reporter

Corinne Ruff joined St. Louis Public Radio as the economic development reporter in April, 2019. She grew up among the cornfields in Northern Illinois and later earned degrees in Journalism and French at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has since reported at the international, national and local level on business, education and social justice issues.

Her written work has appeared in a variety of publications including: Retail Dive, The Chronicle of Higher Education, U.S. News & World Report, C-U Citizen Access and The News-Gazette. Before moving to St. Louis to join the public radio family, she worked in Washington D.C. for more than three years. There, she founded the business podcast Conversational Commerce and co-hosted a weekly show on the public radio station WPFW about the intersection of higher education and social justice. When she’s not on the hunt for a good story, you can find her scoping out the local music scene and looking for good eats that don't involve whatever Provel "cheese" is.


Ways to Connect

provided to stlpr on 6/2/20 after Dorn's death
Scott Bandle, Suburban Journals/St. Louis Post-Dispatch

David Dorn, a retired law enforcement official, was shot and killed early Tuesday morning after responding to a burglary alarm at Lee’s Pawn & Jewelry on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in north St. Louis.

St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden confirmed the information during a press conference Tuesday. He said 55 businesses including the pawn shop reported property damage overnight following protests in downtown St. Louis over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

St. Louis Lambert International Airport. August 2018
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis NAACP and the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council announced plans Wednesday to force a public vote on whether the city can lease St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

The groups must gather more than 22,000 signatures to get the issue on the Nov. 3 ballot. It would take more than 60% of the vote to pass the proposal. And if it passes, the city would amend its charter with a plan for leasing the airport.

Sarah Young reopened her salon in Creve Coeur this week, but customers at Sola Salon must come in one at a time and follow strict safety rules, including wearing a mask and having their temperature taken. Week of 5/22/20
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Sarah Young’s salon in Creve Coeur sat empty for almost two months. But this week, after stay-at-home orders were lifted, she reopened her booth at Sola Salon with back-to-back appointments.

Young is eager to see her regular customers again, but business is far from normal. 

Clients are required to follow new safety protocols. That includes sending a text upon arrival and waiting in the car until Young is done sanitizing. Only one client is allowed inside at a time, and they must wear a mask, have their temperature taken and sanitize their hands.

A cashier at MERS Goodwill retrieves a purse off a clothing rack at the thrift store chain's store in Manchester. Store employees wiped down carts between shoppers and halted sales of large furniture. May 18, 2020
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:35 p.m. with information on additional businesses

Customers lined up Monday morning outside a dozen MERS Goodwill locations in St. Louis and St. Louis County before stores reopened at 10 a.m. As the Florissant store quickly reached its 50-person capacity, other people waited outside on X’s marked on the ground — eager to get inside now that businesses can reopen.

Many wore cloth masks, and the few who didn’t were upset that they could not enter the store without one, said Tori Basile, Goodwill’s district retail manager.

“More than anything they’re just looking for that little return to normalcy and what they enjoyed doing before we closed the stores — coming in to treasure hunt and get some supplies that they may have needed while we were closed,” she said.

Taken on 5-12 when Crown Candy reopened for curbside pickup after staying closed for a month due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Bars and restaurants in St. Louis and St. Louis County will be among the first wave of businesses allowed to reopen their doors to customers on Monday, after local stay-at-home orders expire.

That includes Ice & Fuel in Kirkwood, a sports bar and grill, which has been closed for about a month while the owners deep cleaned the restaurant and fixed up the outdoor patio. Manager Korie Harris said they tried curbside pickup for a few weeks but realized their workers could make more money with unemployment benefits.

But now that the restaurant has a shot at dine-in business, too, she’s added everyone back to the payroll. 

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page removes his mask before talking with reporters on May, 8, 2020.
Bill Greenblatt I UPI

Updated 1:35 p.m. with comments from businesses

Many St. Louis County businesses closed because of the coronavirus will be allowed to reopen May 18 with restrictions on occupancy, County Executive Sam Page announced Friday.

Businesses, personal services and religious institutions that are in buildings of less than 10,000 square feet are limited to 25% occupancy. And buildings of 10,000 feet or more are limited to 10% occupancy.

Taken on 4-22-20 amid local stay at home order
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:40 p.m. , May 6, with comment from St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson.

St. Louis and St. Louis County will start easing up on coronavirus public health restrictions on May 18, allowing businesses to reopen with some restrictions.

Any St. Louis County businesses wanting to reopen will be required to make its employees wear face masks. County Executive Sam Page announced that mandate at a Wednesday morning press briefing. He plans to release more details and rules in the coming days.

St. Louis-area businesses remain closed as the coronavirus pandemic drags on. Weeks of reduced income, or none at all, has stretched small businesses thin.
Nat Thomas | St. Louis Public Radio

As the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic worsens, small businesses throughout the region — and across the country — are struggling to stay afloat. Some have been out of business for weeks, while others have scraped by on reduced revenue. 

While Missouri lifted its statewide stay-at-home order this week, St. Louis regional leaders won't start reopening the local economy until May 18.

Jerome Katz, head professor of entrepreneurship at St. Louis University’s Chaifetz School of Business, said the small business landscape will look much different when things reopen. 

Enterprise Holdings Inc. world headquarters located in Clayton, MO.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Big businesses have more resources than mom-and-pop shops to withstand the economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, but they’re beginning to struggle, too.

This week, Enterprise Holdings and Boeing — two companies that employ thousands in the St. Louis region — announced mass layoffs. Many companies have instituted furloughs to cut immediate costs during the height of the pandemic, but these announcements signify long-term changes coming to the travel industry.

Taken on 4-22-20 amid local stay at home order
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

A local small-business loan program plans to distribute $2.3 million to businesses in St. Louis and St. Louis County that are struggling to stay afloat during the coronavirus outbreak.

So far, it’s funded nearly 200 zero-interest loans of $5,000 for local businesses, and hundreds are still on the waiting list.

health officials are expecting the peak on/around April 25. But another, potentially worse, peak could come if businesses/etc try to go back to normal before wide-spread testing becomes available.
Nat Thomas | St. Louis Public Radio

About a month ago, Dr. Keith Woeltje’s initial projections plotting the curve of COVID-19 cases in the St. Louis region looked bleak.

“For a couple of days there, it actually looked like we had a steeper curve than New York City. Then things started to flatten out a bit,” said Woeltje, vice president and chief medical information officer at BJC HealthCare.

St. Louis-area hospitals are expected to take on the peak of COVID-19 patients late this week, around Saturday. Updated models from mid-April, which use local data from previous weeks, show that in the most likely scenario, about 700 people will need to be hospitalized at that time. Nearly 180 of those patients will likely be in intensive care units, and around 125 will need ventilators. In a worst-case scenario, those numbers double.

Taken on 041320 outside St. Louis University Hospital during the coronavirus outbreak, just ahead of the peak.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

As a therapy technician, Amy Jones doesn’t work directly with COVID-19 patients, but last month she was exposed to the coronavirus while helping another patient get out of bed. 

Soon after, Jones’ supervisor at St. Louis University Hospital told her that the patient tested positive for the virus, and that Jones would have to self-quarantine for two weeks. Jones, who is African American, immediately thought of her husband, who has diabetes, and about reports that black people are dying at higher rates from the coronavirus.

“Mentally, I was losing my mind, but I have to keep it together because of my kids and my grandkids — and my husband,” she said.

Creve Coeur Park bike path
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Dozens of people were running, walking and biking on the path that runs around a lake in Creve Coeur Park Friday afternoon, soaking up the last few hours before St. Louis County shut the site down.

County officials are closing parks from Friday night until April 22 in order to slow the spread of coronavirus. Residents interviewed in Creve Coeur Park Friday said they were disappointed but mostly understood that parks might be hot spots for the virus.

“It will impact our mental health a little bit. It’s nice to get outside and get some fresh air, especially at the parks,” said Jessica Compton, who lives in St. Ann. 

File photo | David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Jake Hamlet thinks about his wife’s health constantly these days. She has an autoimmune disease that targets the lungs, and she could be vulnerable to the coronavirus.

As a carpenter, Hamlet — like all employees in the construction industry — is considered essential. He works for a small general contracting company in St. Louis that does home renovations.

He could choose to stay home, but his wife, Tina, who works remotely, said they need the money. Hamlet wouldn’t be able to collect unemployment benefits, since he has the option to work.

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 4:30 p.m. Friday, March 27, with comments from Olin's Winchester division and GKN Aerospace

The coronavirus outbreak is changing the way many people work — and whether some report to their jobs at all. 

Local governments in the St. Louis region recently restricted gatherings to 10 people or fewer, and many have ordered residents to stay at home in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Businesses are being encouraged to allow employees to work from home or implement social distancing techniques for those who can’t. But that doesn’t apply to “essential” manufacturing. 

Taken on the day before stl regional officials called for restaurants and bars to stop dine-in service (03-16-20)
Corinne Ruff | St. Louis Public Radio

Less than two weeks after St. Louis County health officials announced the first local case of coronavirus, the restaurant and bar industry completely changed. 

Regional government officials last week called for restaurants and bars to halt dine-in service, a move aimed to force social distancing as the number of cases in Missouri climbed past 20.

Only those that offer delivery, takeout or curbside pickup can remain open.

SSM Health President and CEO Laura Kaiser addresses reporters March 13 while St. Louis County Executive Sam Page looks on. Regional leaders announced restaurants will be limited to takeout, curbside and delivery orders.
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, with more comments from officials and restaurant owners

Starting at the end of the day Thursday, restaurants and bars in most of the St. Louis region will only be able to offer takeout or delivery as leaders attempt to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Officials of the city of St. Louis and St. Louis, St. Charles and Franklin counties made the joint announcement Tuesday to shut dine-in service in restaurants and bars and enforce social distancing at all businesses. Officials in Jefferson County did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether they would implement similar restrictions.

Outside the Enterprise Center on 05/22/19 , the day after The St. Louis Blues defeated the San Jose Sharks to go to the Stanley Cup Final.
Corinne Ruff | St. Louis Public Radio

The NCAA announced Wednesday it won’t allow basketball fans to attend upcoming March Madness games because of ongoing concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus.

Health and government officials in St. Louis County announced the first positive case in Missouri on Saturday.

Under the new NCAA policy, only essential staff members and family will be able to attend the games, including four in St. Louis. First- and second-round games of the college basketball tournament are scheduled for next Thursday and Saturday at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announces the state's first case of COVID-19 in St. Louis County on March 8, 2020.
Corinne Ruff | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 8 p.m. March 10 with confirmation from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Tuesday that a 20-year-old woman in St. Louis County has tested positive for COVID-19, the disease spread by the new coronavirus. 

Original story from March 8:

A 20-year-old St. Louis County woman who was studying in Italy is now presumed to be the state’s first confirmed case of COVID-19, the disease spread by the new coronavirus.

Gov. Mike Parson and other officials announced late Saturday that the woman is in isolation at home with members of her family, who also have been in isolation.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page says the woman took care to keep others from contracting the virus once she started feeling sick. She called the county coronavirus hotline, and local health officials told her she met the criteria for testing.

St. Louis County Health Department co-director Spring Schmidt (left) and county executive Sam Page address reporters on Sunday, March 8, 2020, regarding Missouri's presumed first case of the new coronavirus.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Updated at 9 p.m., March 8 with comments from St. Louis County officials

The father and sister of a St. Louis County woman who recently tested positive for coronavirus violated a self-quarantine on Saturday evening.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page expressed frustration during a Sunday evening press conference, where he announced that the St. Louis County Public Health Department may institute a formal quarantine that would legally require the family to not leave the house.

“Quarantine means stay in your home,” he said.

Corinne Ruff | St. Louis Public Radio

About a dozen people gathered around a table in a St. Louis conference room Saturday morning, pulling out notebooks and settling in for a four-hour crash course on growing medical marijuana. 

Instructor Zachery Post gave a PowerPoint presentation in the Cortex Innovation District. He explained basic cannabis terminology and how things like temperature and lighting have different effects on the plant.

provided on 03-06-20
Ponce Health Sciences University

Ponce Health Sciences University announced plans Friday to construct an $80 million facility in north St. Louis and launch a doctor of medicine program.

The for-profit university is expected to break ground on the campus by the end of the year on the former site of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project, near a proposed three-bed hospital. The campus could begin teaching students in 2022 if it gains accreditation this summer.

02-28-20 State Rep. Sarah Unsicker speaks about immigrant tenants
Corinne Ruff | St. Louis Public Radio

A bill introduced this week in the Missouri House of Representatives aims to prevent landlords from threatening to or actually disclosing their tenants’ immigration status.

During a press conference Friday at St. John the Baptist Parish Hall, state Rep. Sarah Unsicker said the proposal is a necessary protection for immigrant tenants who are being harassed and intimidated by their landlords for speaking out against poor housing conditions.

The FTC fears a joint venture between the two largest coal miners in the U.S. would eliminate head-to-head competition and raise utilities prices for consumers. Feb. 26, 2020.
St. Louis Public Radio

The Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday it has filed an antitrust lawsuit against St. Louis-based coal companies Peabody Energy and Arch Coal.

The federal suit challenges a proposed joint venture between the country’s two top coal producers to combine mining operations in the southern Powder River Basin and Colorado.

Brennan England is the owner of Missouri's first cannabis consumption lounge on Cherokee Street, a strip he says is at the center of a budding industry.
Corinne Ruff | St. Louis Public Radio

Cherokee Street — known for its quirky, homegrown businesses — could soon be known as the “Green Light District.” At least that’s what Brennan England hopes. 

The longtime activist for marijuana legalization in Missouri coined the term to brand the south city street and the surrounding neighborhoods as St. Louis’ center for cannabis culture.

Dicamba graphic
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

A federal jury’s decision last week to side with Missouri’s largest peach producer could have implications for other dicamba-related lawsuits awaiting trial.

The jury in Cape Girardeau found that ag giants Monsanto and BASF Corporation are responsible for extensive dicamba damage on Dunklin County-based Bader Farms.

The jury’s verdict also found the companies conspired to damage crops in order to increase profits of dicamba-tolerant seed and related herbicides. Total damages add up to $265 million.

Corinne Ruff | St. Louis Public Radio

CAPE GIRARDEAU — A federal jury in the first dicamba-related lawsuit to go to trial determined Saturday that Monsanto and BASF should pay $250 million in punitive damages.

That’s more than the $200 million suggested by lawyers working for the plaintiff, Bader Farms. 

Missouri’s largest peach producer, owned by Bill and Denise Bader, sued the ag giants for causing extensive dicamba damage to its orchards.

Bill and Denise Bader, owners of Missouri's largest peach farm, allege in their lawsuit that Monsanto and BASF are to blame for extensive dicamba damage.
File photo | Corinne Ruff | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 7 p.m., Feb. 14 with reaction to verdict

A jury found in favor of Bader Farms on all counts Friday, awarding $15 million in damages.

Monsanto and BASF were found liable for negligent design of the products and negligent failure to warn regarding the products. 

The jury also found that the two companies created a joint venture to manufacture and sell dicamba-resistant seed and low-volatility herbicides, and that they conspired to create an “ecological disaster” to increase profits.

A rendering of the Major League Soccer stadium, which is scheduled to be completed by March 2022.
Major League Soccer ownership group

The Major League Soccer ownership group is one step closer to securing the public financial aid it's seeking to construct a stadium in downtown St. Louis.

The aldermanic Housing, Urban Development and Zoning Committee on Wednesday unanimously passed two bills outlining tax incentives for the project.

Supplied by Cortex
Cortex Innvation Community

In nearly two decades, the Cortex Innovation Community transformed a once-blighted, industrial part of St. Louis’ Central West End neighborhood into a bustling tech haven. 

A study of the district released Thursday found Cortex is bringing more money, jobs and development to St. Louis.

Cortex commissioned Ohio-based economic development research firm TEConomy Partners last year to conduct the study, which looked at the tech district’s first 16 years.