Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Maria Altman

Newscast, Business and Education Editor

Maria Altman was named the editor of the newscast, business and education teams in January, 2018. She came to St. Louis Public Radio in 2004 as the local newscaster for All Things Considered and a general assignment reporter. In 2013 she became a business reporter covering economic development, the burgeoning startup community, biotech and Fortune 500 companies. Her work has been aired on NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as Marketplace and Here and Now. Prior to her time in St. Louis, Maria worked at KERA in Dallas as a newscaster and at WSIU in Carbondale, Ill. She received her graduate degree in Public Affairs Reporting at the University of Illinois-Springfield and her bachelors degree in journalism and history at the University of Iowa. Maria lives in St. Louis with her husband (whom she met at St. Louis Public Radio) and their two children. She is a proud native of Iowa and can happily name every celebrity or historical figure with even the slightest connection to the Hawkeye state.

Ways to Connect

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Estie Cruz-Curoe knows black beans.

The Cuban native came to the United States in the early 1960s and grew up in Miami, where her mother added a Cuban mix of spices to canned black beans. But when Cruz-Curoe moved to the Midwest as an adult, she could no longer find the right black beans.

Provided: Ameren

Seven startup companies are taking part in the inaugural Ameren Accelerator program, which began this week in the St. Louis innovation district Cortex.

Ameren Corporation CEO and President Warner Baxter said bringing the utility together with startups will spur innovation that will ultimately help customers.

“They’re going to bring some technologies that we’re going to be able to study to see how we can do things around energy efficiency, how we can make the grid smarter, how we can make the grid more secure,” Baxter said.

Deborah Ruffin speaks to the press about Clean Sweep and the effort to clean up her Hamilton Heights neighborhood.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

A grass-roots effort to clean up some north St. Louis neighborhoods is holding an event this weekend.

Clean Sweep will tackle the Hamilton Heights and Wells Goodfellow neighborhoods and parts of the city of Pagedale, in St. Louis County, on Saturday. Better Family Life and Habitat for Humanity organized the effort, the second such clean-up event.

File photo | St. Louis Public Radio
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Lambert International Airport doesn’t have the crowded terminals of a hub, but things have been looking up.

Last year, nearly 14 million passengers came through the airport, a 10 percent increase over 2016 and the most passengers since 2008.

“We’re pretty pleased with the direction,” said Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge.

The numbers poured in at a recent Airport Commission meeting.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

A report from a national organization is recognizing BioSTL as a model for other cities looking to build on their own industrial and research strengths.

The Initiative for Competitive Inner Cities’ report “Building Strong Clusters for Strong Urban Economies” focuses on four case studies from cities around the country.

has eight KC-135 Stratotankers. The planes can carry 33,000 gallons of fuel. June 2017
Maria Altman, | St. Louis Public Radio

The steel gray KC-135 Stratotankers are massive.

The Boeing jets, first deployed way back in 1956, can carry up to 83,000 pounds of cargo with the thrust of four turbofan engines.

The plane is also capable of carrying 33,000 gallons of fuel and off-loading it in mid-air.

That’s the primary mission of the Illinois Air National Guard’s 126th Air Refueling Wing, assigned to Scott Air Force Base, near Belleville.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

MetroLink trains whisked by in the background as officials gathered to break ground on a new light rail station in the Cortex Innovation District.

The new $12.6 million station will be located on the east side of Boyle Ave. It’s expected to be completed in about a year.

Cortex President and CEO Dennis Lower said having a stop will allow the district’s 4,500 employees to get to work without cars and allow business partners to come straight from the airport.

“All of that is important with the technology community and that we work with every day,” Lower said.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Tax incentives in St. Louis have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, both from within city government and among citizens' groups.

Now the St. Louis Development Corporation, the agency that recommends whether a development should receive the city’s help, is proposing some reforms.

Rendering of the proposed apartment building at Clayton Avenue and Graham Street.
Courtesy of Pearl Companies

Updated with TIF Commission's vote Wednesday

A $26 million apartment building project has received the first round of approval for tax incentives from the city of St. Louis.

The Tax Increment Financing Commission approved a $3.8 million TIF for the project at Clayton Ave. and Graham St. on Wednesday. 

The International Institute in St. Louis provides integration services for more than 7,500 immigrants and refugees each year.
File photo | Marie Schwarz | St. Louis Public Radio

The International Institute of St. Louis is seeking ambassadors of sorts.

The organization that provides integration services for more than 7,500 immigrants and refugees each year is recruiting volunteers to help spread the word about how those foreign-born residents benefit the community.

Courtesy of Scott Air Force Base

Back in 1917, it was known as Scott Field.

The U.S. had just entered World War I, and the War Department leased 624 acres near Belleville, Illinois, to help train pilots to send to Europe. The field was named after Cpl. Frank Scott, the first enlisted service member to be killed in an aviation crash. 

Today, Scott Air Force Base covers more than 3,500 acres and employs 13,000 military and civilian service members. It’s also home to more than 30 mission partners, including the U.S. Transportation Command, Air Mobility Command and the 18th Air Force.

The St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s the chicken or the egg argument.

Should city aldermen meet with stakeholders and then craft a bill? Or should the bill be proposed and then brought to the public for input?

St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Green, 15th Ward, prefers the first approach when it comes to developing Community Benefits Agreements legislation.

File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated May 15 with comments from Gov. Greitens — Governor Eric Greitens says the Missouri Partnership will be funded.

The business recruiting arm of the state was expected to get $2.25 million in state funding, but Missouri legislators eliminated the line item completely in the budget for next fiscal year.

Boeing's T-X could mean 1,800 direct and in-direct jobs in St. Louis, should the Air Force award the contract to the company. May 2017
Provided | Boeing

Boeing officials announced Monday the company’s decision to assemble the T-X training jet in St. Louis, meaning approximately 1,800 direct and in-direct jobs for the region.

But those jobs depend on whether the U.S. Air Force gives Boeing and Saab the contract later this year. Lockheed Martin and the Korean Aerospace Industries’ T-50A and the Italian company Leonardo along with its U.S. subsidiary DRS are also competing for the aircraft, which will replace the T-38.

Elected officials, including Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, pledged support to help Boeing win the bid.

The Wealth Accumulation Center is located at 2828 Gravois Ave., and is a partnerships between Prosperity Connection and the St. Louis Community Credit Union. May 2017
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

The Wealth Accumulation Center is focused on helping low-income St. Louis residents with their finances.

The new building at 2828 Gravois Ave., in the Benton Park neighborhood, combines traditional banking, a short-term lender and financial education. It’s the latest collaboration between the St. Louis Community Credit Union and Prosperity Connection.

39 North Master Plan, Ayers Saint Gross

The public can hear more about plans for 39 North, the 600-acre plant science innovation district in Creve Coeur, on Thursday night.

The Danforth Center is hosting the discussion, which will include panelists Creve Coeur Mayor Barry Glantz, Travis Sheridan,  CIC Venture Café Global Institute President, and Sheila Sweeney,  St. Louis Economic Development Partnership CEO .

St. Louis' Civil Courthouse - May 2017
Maria Altman / St. Louis Public Radio

Businesses in St. Louis will have to pay their employees at least $10 an hour starting Friday, rather than the state's minimum of $7.70.

A circuit court judge lifted an injunction against a city ordinance on Thursday, a little over a week after the Missouri Supreme Court declined to reconsider its February ruling upholding the law

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth / St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Louis citizens group wants the city to be more transparent when it comes to tax incentives.

Team TIF is asking the city's Board of Aldermen to pass three proposals and has even drafted the language:

(Flickr, Marcie Casas)

A new cybersecurity apprenticeship program is about to begin in the St. Louis region.

The Midwest Cyber Center is partnering with the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment, known as SLATE, to launch the 18-month apprenticeship.

The Cybersecurity Analyst Registered Apprenticeship  is aimed at those who are at least 18, with a high school diploma or G.E.D. Midwest Cyber Center Executive Director Tony Bryan said they wanted to attract those with little experience into the field.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

This story was updated on 4/26/2017 with comments from Sen. Will Kraus

The state of Missouri collected $435 million in corporate income tax revenue in fiscal year 2015.

That plummeted to $280 million last year.

St. Louis Lambert International Airport
Michael R. Allen | Flickr

The Federal Aviation Administration has accepted the city of St. Louis’ preliminary application into an airport privatization pilot program.

The U.S. Department of Transportation made the announcement on Monday. Secretary Elaine L. Chao said the acceptance demonstrates the administration’s commitment to using innovative financing strategies to revitalize the nation’s aviation infrastructure.

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Outrageous.

That’s the word Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway used over and over to describe her office’s findings after an audit into the state’s 205 Transportation Development Districts.

“The average citizen is getting taken advantage of here,” Galloway said Monday at a news conference to release the report. “It’s outrageous that there’s almost $1 billion in project costs that taxpayers are on the hook for. They don’t know about it and they didn’t vote for it.”

Portfolio of Missouri Technology Corporation

If you throw a rock in the St. Louis startup ecosystem, you’ll likely hit a company that’s gotten some of its investment funds from the Missouri Technology Corporation.

The Missouri General Assembly established the public-private partnership in 1994 to promote entrepreneurism and grow high-tech companies. MTC has co-invested about $35 million in nearly 100 startups since 2011, many of them based in St. Louis.

That investment may dry up soon.

Firefighters work outside of the Loy-Lange Box Company building on South 3rd Street. (April 3, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 10:25 a.m. April 6 with confirmation of fourth death — The death toll has risen from this week's boiler explosion at a factory in the Soulard neighborhood.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said Clifford Lee, 53, died on Wednesday. Lee was inside the Faultless Linen Company when a piece of the boiler that exploded at the Loy-Lange Box Company crashed through the roof.

Flickr | TerryJohnston

Updated July 18 with deal closing - Panera Bread is no longer a locally-owned company. The $7.5 billion acquisition by European business group J-A-B Holding Company was completed Tuesday morning. The deal takes Panera private and its shares are no longer trading on the NASDAQ stock exchange.

St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis-based Peabody Energy will again trade on the New York Stock Exchange beginning on Tuesday, as they announced that they're emerging from bankruptcy.

It will be under its old ticker symbol BTU, but company officials are calling it a new day.

“We believe that ‘The New BTU’ is well positioned to create substantial value for shareholders and other stakeholders over time,” said Peabody President and CEO Glenn Kellow in a press release.

The coal company says it shed about $5 billion in debt from the time it filed for Chapter 11 in April 2016.

Provded: Ameren

Ameren Corporation is launching an energy accelerator with the help of the University of Missouri system, UMSL Accelerate and Capital Innovators.

President and CEO Warner Baxter said on Friday the utility will invest $100,000 each in five to seven startups chosen to participate in the Ameren Accelerator program.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

The two-story brick home at 3735 California St. got a second chance.

The property, owned by the city of St. Louis' Land Reutilization Authority, was slated for demolition. Then Alderwoman Cara Spencer, 20th Ward, had an idea: take money for demolition and put it toward stabilizing the building in the heart of the Gravois Park neighborhood.

The city’s Building Commissioner, Frank Oswald, agreed. Rather than spending $10,000 to tear it down, the division spent $14,000 for roof work and tuck-pointing.

A vacant building at 4030 Evans Ave. owned by the city's Land Reutilization Authority in March 2017.
File photo | Marie Schwarz | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis voters will decide next month whether to increase their property taxes by a penny in order to help stabilize vacant buildings owned by the city.

Proposition NS is on the April 4 ballot. If passed, it would allow St. Louis to sell up to $40 million in bonds, or about $6 million each year for about 6½ years. That amounts to a one-cent property tax increase per $100 of valuation on a property.

Fast food workers take part in a protest organized by Show Me $15 outside a McDonald's on Natural Bridge Road in St. Louis on March 15, 2017. They want the city's $10 minimum wage increase to be enforced immediately.
File photo | Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

The business organizations that took St. Louis' law to raise the minimum wage to the Missouri Supreme Court filed a motion Wednesday for it to be reheard.

It was the last day they could challenge last month's ruling that upheld the city's law.

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