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

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.

Illustration by Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

As a postdoctoral fellow at Washington University, Tom Cohen realized he had a slim shot at landing a tenure-track job. But in the business world, his expertise offered lots of opportunities.

That’s why he joined the Biotechnology and Life Science Advising Group, founded by Wash U students and called BALSA for short.

It allows Ph.D.s and postdocs from universities in the area to gain industry experience while businesses commissioning projects get the work done for a fraction of the cost. 

File photo | Corinne Ruff | St. Louis Public Radio

The East-West Gateway Council of Governments is considering a study about regional governance of St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

During a board meeting Wednesday, elected officials from St. Louis and counties across the region discussed the idea but did not vote on it. 

Conversations among regional leaders about the airport’s future have been growing since St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson pulled the plug on airport privatization in December. 

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

CAPE GIRARDEAU — A substitute teacher, a homemaker and a truck driver are among the eight jurors selected Monday to hear the first dicamba-related lawsuit to go to trial.

In Missouri’s Bootheel, where farming is a major industry, it took several hours for U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh Jr. to dismiss those with connections to herbicides, Monsanto or Bader Farms.

The trial centers around a lawsuit filed by the Dunklin County-based peach orchard, which is Missouri’s largest producer of the fruit. The lawsuit alleges dicamba-based weed killers repeatedly drifted from neighboring cotton and soybean fields, damaging more than 30,000 trees.

Dicamba graphic
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Five years ago, the owner of Missouri’s largest peach farm started noticing damage to his orchard. A year later, Bader Farms estimated a loss of more than 30,000 trees. 

A lawsuit filed by the farm in 2016 alleges Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, and herbicide maker BASF Corp. are to blame because the weed killer drifted from other fields. Both companies deny the allegations.

That suit, which seeks $21 million in damages, will be heard in federal court starting Monday in Cape Girardeau. It will be the first of several dicamba-related suits against the corporations to go to trial.

After 25 years in operation, Trailhead Brewing is selling its facility and operations to Schlafly.
Trailhead Brewing

Fran Caradonna wasn’t looking to open another Schlafly brewpub. But after a call from Trailhead Brewing owner Bob Kirkwood late last year, the CEO changed her mind.

After 25 years of operations, the St. Charles-based brewery will soon change hands.

Late next month or in early March, Trailhead Brewing will reopen as Schlafly Bankside.

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

It’s definitive. St. Louis Lambert International Airport will not have a private operator. 

Members of the St. Louis Board of Estimate and Apportionment voted unanimously Wednesday to officially terminate the process. 

File photo | Corinne Ruff | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Port Authority is holding off on commissioning a study about regional governance of St. Louis Lambert International Airport. 

Andrew Ruben, outside legal counsel to the county Port Authority, said pumping the brakes on the study signals that talks of alternate governance structures are intensifying among regional leaders.

Cannabis plants grow inside Ascend Illinois indoor facility in Barry, IL. Ascend owns two existing medical dispensaries and plans to open two additional recreational dispensaries early next year.
File Photo | Eric Schmid | St Louis Public Radio

Robbie Guard sees a green opportunity in Missouri’s newest industry — medical marijuana.

He runs the Cape Girardeau office for MRV Banks. The 13-year-old institution has just three locations along the Missouri side of the Mississippi River. 

As a relatively young bank with a small footprint, it struggles to bring in new accounts. Guard hopes the newly legal medical marijuana industry will change that. 

Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the fourth floor of downtown-based startup incubator T-Rex, construction workers are putting on the final touches of Geosaurus. The marbled flooring they’re layering mimics St. Louis’ geographic landscape stretching west of the Mississippi River.

The geospatial resource center is slated to open in January. 

Commerical planes parked at a St. Louis Lambert International Airport terminal.
St. Louis Lambert International Airport

Updated at 2:30 p.m. with reaction from members of the working group.

A nearly two-year process to consider leasing St. Louis Lambert International Airport to a private operator is coming to a screeching halt. 

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said Friday she’s sending a letter to members of the Airport Advisory Working Group saying that she's asking her representative, Linda Martinez, to not support or vote to move forward with issuing a request for proposals. 

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

Last month, 11 companies vying to operate St. Louis Lambert International Airport flew in to interview with members of the working group considering leasing it.

St. Louis Public Radio obtained redacted copies of presentations made by representatives of those companies during the interviews. 

Corinne Ruff | St. Louis Public Radio

WENTZVILLE — General Motors announced Friday it will invest $1.5 billion in its Wentzville plant to support production of its next generation of midsize pickup trucks. 

During a press event, GM President Mark Reuss — who started his GM career at the plant — said the company will retain 4,000 full-time jobs as a result of the move.

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