Cortex | St. Louis Public Radio

Cortex

Dennis Lower will step down as CEO of Cortex early next year after spending a decade in the role. Dec. 13, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A lot has changed at Cortex since Dennis Lower took the reins as CEO a decade ago.

Back then, he was tasked with designing an innovation community — a place where people from big corporations, small startups and academic research institutions could break out of their silos and bounce ideas off each other.

“We call them serendipitous collisions, and that truly is what does happen,” Lower said of the mixed-use business and retail area in midtown St. Louis.

But as Cortex grows — a new hotel, apartments and office space are under construction or in the planning stages — Lower is preparing to transition from his full-time role. That move will take place in the first quarter of 2020 when his successor will be named.

Nov. 1, 2019 Laura Burkemper, Phyllis Ellison and Bronwyn Morgan
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis on the Air

The first-ever STL Startup Week begins Nov. 1, celebrating a growing entrepreneurial scene in a city once better known for beer and brick. An integral part of St. Louis’ startup scene: women. A total of 45.2% of local startups are female-owned. That’s more than any other city in the country.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, a trio of movers and shakers discussed the area’s startup success. Phyllis Ellison, vice president of partnerships and program development for Cortex, explained that the area has developed an entire infrastructure to help new companies succeed. 

Corinne Ruff | St. Louis Public Radio

Nearly 30 Irish businesses have a presence in Missouri, but local government and business leaders in the state want to see more.

The American Chamber of Commerce Ireland and the Missouri Partnership on Monday released a handbook on investing in Missouri. They want to provide Irish businesses with resources and mentors so more will consider expansion in the region.

Taken on July 22 at BioSTL building in cortex during rehab construction.
Corinne Ruff | St. Louis Public Radio

A historic building in the Cortex innovation district is being transformed into a focal point for the St. Louis bioscience industry. At least that’s the intention of BioSTL President and CEO Donn Rubin.

“It’s part of my vision that when a guest to St. Louis comes for a meeting in the biosciences, they will be exposed to not just one company or one entrepreneur, but see an entire community of entrepreneurs — a beehive of startup activity.”

The Post-Dispatch headquarters has been on North Tucker Avenue in downtown St. Louis for decades.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 2:30 p.m., July 30 with comment from StarLake Holdings Managing Partner John Berglund — Mobile payment technology company Square will move its 500 St. Louis employees from the Cortex Innovation Community to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch building downtown over the next few years.

The newspaper is moving around the corner next month, to 901 North 10th Street.

Square signed a lease on the newspaper’s longtime home last week. The building has space for 1,400 employees, giving Square the option to expand its St. Louis presence.

Taken on 06-10-19 at The Magic House on Delmar
Corinne Ruff | St. Louis Public Radio

Through the doors of the Magic House at MADE, kids are testing rocket launchers, designing video game characters and learning how to use 3D printers.

This new satellite location on Delmar Boulevard in St. Louis is a recent expansion from the children’s museum’s flagship in Kirkwood. What’s different is the focus on entrepreneurship.

“MADE stands for makers, artists, designers and entrepreneurs, so we’ve divided our space into those four areas,” says Beth Fitzgerald, president of The Magic House.

ForTheCultureSTL.com creater Ohun Ashe wants to help circulate funds in St. Louis' African American community by promoting black-owned businesses and hosting events like the pop-up shop on Wednesday.
Ohun Ashe

Before the death of Michael Brown Jr., entrepreneur Ohun Ashe said she did not see many black-owned businesses in her community.

In 2014, Ashe was in the streets of Ferguson and St. Louis protesting the killing of Brown. She recorded video footage of scenes between police and protestors and even the moment when she was arrested and thrown into a paddy wagon. Once demonstrations died down, Ashe was determined to understand her role in the protests.

It was not until 2016 when Ashe envisioned providing the St. Louis community with an online black business directory, ForTheCultureSTL.com.

Building boom can be measured in number of cranes in the sky.
Chris Stritzel City Scene

St. Louis has had a banner year for construction in 2018. The number of building permits issued was up in 17 of the city's 28 wards. The value of new projects totals more than $1 billion, and dozens of projects are on the drawing board, or ready to break ground, in 2019.

Emerging trends in real estate report presented Dec. 5, 2018 at COrtex
photo credit | ULI and PwC

Members of the St. Louis real estate industry are celebrating a banner year and looking forward to 2019.

Developers, investors, builders and housing advocates gathered today for a presentation of the 2019 Emerging Trends in Real Estate survey, published annually by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and PwC US.

Nov. 16, 2018 MADE makerspace opens on Delmar with Jim McKelvey leading effort.
Melody Walker | St. Louis Public Radio

Jim McKelvey has come to the rescue of the St. Louis maker movement.

Today, the serial entrepreneur officially opened MADE, a 32,000-square-foot building at 5127 Delmar Blvd., with tools and machines for makers, artists, designers and entrepreneurs.

Square plans to hire engineers at its St. Louis office

Oct 18, 2018
Square launches new payment processing device.
Square Inc.

Square, the startup that revolutionized credit card payments for small businesses, plans to start adding engineers to its workforce in St. Louis. The company this year pledged to create 300 jobs here over the next five years.

Founded by St. Louis natives Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey in 2009, the San Francisco-based company launched the latest version of its credit card and mobile payment processing system, called Square Terminal, on Thursday.

Microsoft Technology Center opens in Cortex Innovation Community
Melody Walker|St. Louis Public Radio

There have been many ribbon cuttings in the Cortex district this year. The debut of a new MetroLink station, a new building called Innovation Hall and the Aloft Hotel groundbreaking were big events, to name a few. But Wednesday's ribbon cutting at the Microsoft Technology Center had politicians, entrepreneurs and techies buzzing more than usual.

The $50 million, 30,000-square-foot center occupies the entire fifth floor of the new Innovation Hall on Duncan Avenue.  The software giant chose St. Louis to join an elite group of 50 cities around the world to lay claim to one of its tech centers. There are only 15 located in the U.S.

A train of spectators broke a ribbon at Cortex MetroLink Station on Tuesday morning. July 31, 2018.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

A new MetroLink stop opened on Tuesday in St. Louis’ Cortex tech district.

The Cortex MetroLink Station is the first new station built in more than 10 years. It’s also the first Metro Transit construction project built with both private and public funding.

Aloft hotel breaks ground in Cortex

Jul 25, 2018
Aloft Hotel in Cortex; artist rendering
Cortex Innovation Community

A hotel designed for millennials and young professionals is coming to the Cortex innovation district in St. Louis.

 

Officials held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday for the $25 million hotel. St. Louis-based Midas Hospitality and MC Construction are building the 129-room hotel under the “Aloft by Mariott” brand at the corner Boyle and Duncan avenues.

 

The Cortex MetroLink Station is the 38th station to come to fruition within the light-rail system, which first began service in 1993. The grand opening is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 31.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

MetroLink riders along the central corridor will soon have a new spot to hop aboard both red- and blue-line trains.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed what the new Cortex MetroLink Station and other plans in the works could mean for the future of transit in the region.

Joining him to talk about it were Jessica Mefford-Miller, interim executive director of Metro Transit, and June McAllister Fowler, the newly announced board chair for Citizens for Modern Transit.

Metro Transit

A new MetroLink station will open in St. Louis’ Cortex Innovation Community later this month.

The light-rail stop is located on the east side of Boyle Avenue between the existing Central West End and Grand stations. It’s part of a $15.4-million project to update transportation options surrounding the St. Louis tech hub. The station marks Metro Transit’s first construction project built with both private and public funding.

Metro Transit spokesperson Patti Beck said the stop will support Cortex’s growth as a tech hub.

The central corridor illumination art project on these grain elevators was tested briefly on Dec. 12.
Provided | Raven Fox

Many St. Louisans pack the family into the car, drive around, and ooh and ah over lighting displays during the Christmas season.

They might want to do it again in February.

That’s when the next phase of a huge, colorful, illumination art project will be briefly visible in St. Louis’ central corridor — and for miles around. The “canvas” consists of a series of grain silos that sit less than 200 yards from the IKEA store between Sarah Street and Vandeventer Avenue.

Cortex,
TechShop

The same day TechShop announced it was filing for bankruptcy and closing all locations, a St. Louis native decided to step in to save the local makerspace.

Jim McKelvey, the co-founder of Square and Third Degree Glass Factory, as well as the founder of LaunchCode, made a couple of phone calls.

Cortex,
TechShop

TechShop offered a cutting edge workshop for entrepreneurs making prototypes or those who just wanted to make stuff.

Now the St. Louis location and nine others around the country are closed. TechShop announced on Wednesday it’s filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The San Francisco-based company came to St. Louis in 2016. The maker’s space had a prime location in the innovation district Cortex in a new, 60,000-square-foot building at 4260 Forest Park Ave.

“It was a surprise to us,” said Dennis Lower, president and CEO of Cortex.

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.

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.

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.

Courtesy Wexford Science & Technology

Microsoft is coming to the Cortex Innovation Community in St. Louis’ Central West End.

The Washington state-based company will open its regional headquarters and a Microsoft Technology Center to serve as an anchor for a new tech building at 4220 Duncan Ave.

City Foundry

Two major redevelopment projects in St. Louis’ midtown got approval from an aldermanic committee on Wednesday.

City Foundry covers about 14 acres just east of IKEA. The Midtown Redevelopment, spearheaded by Saint Louis University, includes nearly 400 acres along Grand Avenue.

The City Foundry is a being developed by Cortex and the Lawrence group in four phases that could cost up to $340 million. The plan includes food, retail, office space and apartments.

Plans revealed for major Cortex expansion

Oct 20, 2016
Cortex Innovation Community

The Cortex Innovation Community in St. Louis’ Central West End will undergo a major expansion over the next two years.

Developers announced plans Thursday for the district’s first hotel which will include a restaurant, apartments with over 200 studio, one and two bedroom units, approximately 20,000 square feet of street level retail, a new technology and lab building and an innovation hall to be used as a meeting space.

Loufest founder and Cortex CEO launch new festival

Feb 25, 2016
Brian Cohen, LouFest Founder
Provided by Brian Cohen

Brian Cohen, one of the founders of the LouFest Music Festival, is leaving to start a new venture with the Cortex Innovation Community. The new enterprise will be aimed at showcasing various innovative projects from the city’s tech, science, art, and music communities.

Katelyn Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” host Don Marsh discussed the year in business happenings in the area — from Cortex to coal to NGA — with the reporters who know the subject best.

The utilitarian raingardens capture stormwater run-off, removing silt and pollutants. The shade structure adds elegance.
Robert W. Duffy | St. Louis Public Radio

Anyone who’s a frequent driver, cyclist or pedestrian along Forest Park Avenue has an idea what the research and development phenomenon called Cortex looks like – at least an imposing architectural chunk of it.

As Cortex president and CEO Dennis Lower notes, there’s much, much more than the average passerby might imagine in the district, more than what’s presented by the modern building at 4320 Forest Park Ave. with the tilted glass façade and, across Boyle from it, the skeleton of a new building rising on the corner.

(Flickr/Laurence Livermore)

BioSTL has grabbed a $500,000 grant from the Small Business Administration.

It was one of just three Regional Innovation Cluster Initiative grants the SBA is giving out nationally and is meant to spur small business growth.

(courtesy Cortex/Chris Cross)

A little more West Coast is moving into St. Louis.

The music streaming company Pandora opened an office inside Cortex, St. Louis’ innovation district, on Monday.

"Pandora came looking for us," said Dougan Sherwood, co-founder and managing director of CIC St. Louis, which is housed in the @4240 building.

Sherwood said officials with Pandora, which is based in Oakland, Calif., wanted to replicate the culture they have at their headquarters.

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