Economy & Innovation | St. Louis Public Radio

Economy & Innovation

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

St. Louis County assessor Jake Zimmerman joined host Don Marsh to discuss rising property values in the county and the St. Louis region. March 22, 2019
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County homeowners were treated to some good news this week: County assessor Jake Zimmerman announced that the typical home value in the area increased by 15 percent since 2017.

Lee Broughton is a former vice president of global marketing for the Enterprise brands. He also is the founder of a small brand strategy firm known as the Broughton Brand Company.
STL Made

A grassroots effort is underway to build up the St. Louis region and then expand that unified message of pride to other areas of the country. A key goal is to make the area more competitive when it comes to attracting jobs, students and keeping people here after they graduate.

St. Louis Regional Chamber CEO and President Tom Chulick presented findings from the "Bridging the Talent Gap" survey alongside local business and higher education leaders on March 14.
Andy Field | St. Louis Public Radio

Although St. Louis has an unemployment rate below the national average, area employers are struggling to find candidates who meet their needs, according to a survey by the St. Louis Regional Chamber.

The chamber on Thursday announced findings from the “Bridging the Talent Gap” survey. Among 289 respondents, 94 percent said they are hiring for full-time positions. However, 75 percent of them said they were finding it difficult to recruit certain positions — mostly requiring highly skilled workers.

The proposal would upgrade the America's Center Convention Center in downtown St. Louis to include a new public park and large ballroom among other improvements to the complex, as depicted in this artist's rendering.
Explore St. Louis

To hear Kitty Ratcliffe tell it, the America’s Center Convention Center in downtown St. Louis has had a good run since it first opened in 1977 – and since it grew bigger with the addition of the Dome in 1995. But now, she says, the 42-year-old complex needs some major attention – to the tune of $175 million in upgrades and expansion.

“[America’s Center] was not really purposely designed as that entire complex [that it is today] – it’s really three different pieces that don’t really work all that well,” Ratcliffe told host Don Marsh during Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air. “And what we’ve seen in the last decade or so is that every major city that we compete against has either built a new building, like Nashville did, where they built a $623 million, brand-new convention center downtown, or has made major improvements to theirs. San Antonio spent $325 million, as an example.”

(March 11,2019) (L-R) LaShana Lewis, Susan Gobbo and Katie Carpenter discussed local efforts underway to attract and retain newcomers to the region.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Moving to a new city can sometimes be daunting, whether it’s a move for work, family or school. But it doesn’t always have to be – and in St. Louis, there are resources that transplants can take advantage of if they know where to look.

A variety of local efforts are underway to attract and retain newcomers to the region, and on Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh led a discussion about where those activities are at – and what new St. Louisans can do to make their transition to the area more seamless.

Lance Weiss is a certified public accountant and partner with SFW Partners, LLC in St. Louis.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Many average Americans aren’t seeing the kinds of refunds they expected in the wake of President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – instead, it’s wealthier people that are tending to see larger refunds. That’s according to Lance Weiss, a certified public accountant and partner with SFW Partners, LLC in St. Louis.

“You can’t argue with the math,” Weiss said during Monday’s St. Louis on the Air. “The [new] tax code was really designed to give bigger refunds to higher-income taxpayers, and that’s exactly what it’s doing.”

He added that most people probably did see “their total tax liability” drop, however.

Taulby Roach started as CEO and president of Bi-State Development about two months ago.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated March 1 with comments on timeline — Since being named CEO and president of Bi-State Development a couple months ago, Taulby Roach has emphasized improving security throughout the St. Louis region’s Metro Transit system.

A New York-based engineering firm last week released its final recommendations from a eight-month study of MetroLink’s safety and security. The evaluation comes after years of claims from riders and politicians that the MetroLink is unsafe, even though data shows that crime on the system is relatively low compared to ridership.

A teen learns about circuitry while building a game controller at the Best Buy Teen Tech Center in Indianapolis.
Credit Best Buy

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis will be celebrating the grand opening of a new teen tech center on Thursday.  

The center — which will reside at the Herbert Hoover Club in north St. Louis — will have a music studio, 3D printers, virtual-reality headsets and more for teens to use.

The goal for the center is to inspire young St. Louisans to pursue careers in STEM fields, according to Dr. Flint Fowler, the president of the local Boys & Girls Club of America chapter.

Bob McArthur is the president of Johnny Mac's Sporting Goods, which recently announced that it is closing down its retail locations. February 22, 2019
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Bob McArthur has been working at Johnny Mac’s Sporting Goods for almost his entire life. When he was 10 years old, he and his brothers were engraving trophies at the store opened by their father, John McArthur, in 1967; by the time he was old enough to drive, he was running deliveries all across St. Louis.

Caitlyn Collins, author of "Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving," discussed the role of public policies in improving the the balance needed to accommodate the two roles of motherhood and career.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Issues on the forefront for women in the workplace include wage equity and advancement opportunities. More conversations are now encompassing the balance needed to accommodate the two roles of motherhood and career.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with Caitlyn Collins, author of "Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving." The newly released book looks at working mothers' daily lives and the revolution in public policy and culture needed to improve them.

Collins, an assistant professor of sociology at Washington University, compared policies in the United States with other well-developed countries such as Sweden, Italy and Germany – and found staggering differences in cultural attitudes towards child care.

The U.S. trade war with China has created a financial burden for farmers and companies that import Chinese goods. Consumers, on the other hand, have mostly been spared from the conflict.

That could all change if this month’s negotiations between the U.S. and China don’t go well.

Report: Legalizing Sports Betting In Illinois

Feb 6, 2019

Illinois lawmakers are considering whether to legalize sports gambling. They’re still negotiating the details - -but a recent analysis shows the state could benefit from allowing the practice—sooner than later. 

Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis will no longer have green bikes lining its sidewalks.

Bike-share company Lime decided to replace its bike fleet with electric scooters. The scooters have proven to be more popular among residents, a Lime spokesperson said.

Swiss Meat and Sausage has been butchering animals and selling meats in a small, unincorporated east-central Missouri town for 50 years. Co-owner Janice Thomas wants to expand, and to do that, she’ll need more business from out-of-town customers.

“If there is one place that has some room, it’s with our online ordering,” she said.

The community of Swiss has minimal internet access: It’s not high speed, and it’s unreliable.

TSA workers receive lunch from the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis during the partial government shutdown.
The Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis

Federal workers across the nation are taking a temporary sigh of relief as the government reopens for three weeks during negotiations over security along the southern border.

But even with the shutdown on pause, there is still a lingering question of when the roughly 800,000 federal workers nationwide affected by the shutdown will get paid.

Veteran Donna Rogers (left) and Tyler Klan (right) protest with federal employees outside the USDA building on Goodfellow Blvd. in St. Louis.
Donna Rogers

Donna Rogers hasn’t received a paycheck in weeks. An Army veteran who works at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) office in St. Louis, she’s among the 800,000 federal employees around the nation working without pay or on furlough.

The lack of a paycheck is weighing on her. The partial government shutdown is now the longest running in U.S. history, with no end in sight.

“Being a single mom, bills are still due, period,” Rogers said. “So whether you have kids or no kids, you have teenagers, grown folks, whatever; I mean, bills are still coming through.”

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

Many federal workers in the St. Louis region are dipping into their savings and cutting spending as they cope with uncertainty from the partial government shutdown.

That includes air traffic controllers at St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

“We’re toughing it out,” said Allison Schwaegel, who heads the local chapter of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

Sam O'Keefe | Missouri S&T

A team at Missouri University of Science and Technology has received a $1 million grant to research better kinds of cyber security.

They aren’t looking to stop outside hackers — they want to stop threats from the inside.

Facilities and systems like power grids, water plants and driverless cars could all benefit from the research funded by the National Science Foundation.

Shop 'n Save closed this store in Nov. 2018
Melody Walker | St. Louis Public Radio

Most city and suburban dwellers take the convenience of a local grocery store for granted.

But many residents of Spanish Lake don’t have that luxury any more. When three nearby Shop ‘n Save stores closed in November, it left shoppers fewer options and created what the USDA classifies as a food desert.

Spanish Lake is in the northeast corner of unincorporated St. Louis County. The cities of Florissant and Ferguson are on its west side; the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers are on the east.

The west St. Louis County municipality of Crystal Lake Park secured a grant from a Missouri Secretary of State program to digitize more than 2,000 documents, dating back roughly 50 years. Jan. 11, 2019.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

A small community in west St. Louis County has just completed the first part of a project to help preserve its history.

Crystal Lake Park, which borders Frontenac, Town and Country and Des Peres, secured a grant from the Missouri Secretary of State’s Local Records Preservation Program to digitize more than 2,000 documents, dating back roughly 50 years.

Protesters gather in front of the USDA Rural Development building on Goodfelow Blvd to protest the government shutdown on  January 8, 2019.ed
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

Military veterans who work for the federal government are among the federal employees facing the loss of their first January paychecks due to the partial government shutdown which started Dec. 21.

A report from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management estimates that about one-third of federal employees are veterans. Although the exact number of local veterans who are government workers is unclear, a number of St. Louis-area veterans work for agencies like the National Park Service and the Transportation Security Administration.

Flight board lambert airport
File photo | Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Several members of the city’s Transportation and Commerce Committee say they feel they have been kept in the dark when it comes to details on the Airport Working Group’s progress.

Two members of the group attended the Transportation and Commerce Committee meeting in City Hall today to deliver an update on the work completed so far by the large cadre of consultants who launched the airport privatization exploration process in August 2018.

Even breweries are feeling the pinch of the partial federal government shutdown.  

“The regulating body that we have to submit all of our labels to, to get approved by is shut down,” says James Stutsman, founder of City Barrel Brewing.

Stutsman shared his story on KCUR's Central Standard Wednesday.

Nashville-based Contour Airlines will start serving the regional airport at Fort Leonard Wood with 30-seat jets on Feb. 12.

That will be a upgrade from Cape Air, the current provider, and its nine-seat turbo-prop planes that have been flying out of the airport for the past eight years.

And the ninth passenger seat was actually the unused co-pilot’s seat.

Rural Areas Drive Airbnb Growth In Missouri

Jan 6, 2019

Airbnb hosts brought in more than $48 million in 2018, a 67% increase over the previous year. The company notes rural areas had particularly strong growth.

Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit said hosts welcomed 480,000 guests and earned an average of $5,500 a year. 

While the company grew in large cities, Breit said the strongest growth was in smaller towns.

He pointed to places like Barry County in southwest Missouri, which saw more than 2,000 Airbnb guests last year. 

Sweeney is out, Crim is in as CEO of STL Partnership
Provided | St. Louis Economic Development Partnership

Sheila Sweeney is out, and Rodney Crim is in as interim CEO at the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.

"Our board has determined that a new direction is necessary to fulfill our mission of building this region’s economic engine," said Karlos Ramirez, partnership board chairman, in a statement released today.

David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Federal employees throughout metro St. Louis are feeling the brunt of the partial government shutdown two weeks in, as agencies and departments have placed workers on furlough or have required them to work without pay.

In metro St. Louis, the shutdown includes the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the National Park Service (NPS).

David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

An early stage venture fund in downtown St. Louis is continuing to go global.

SixThirty, which launched in 2013 and invests in up to 12 startups a year, will formally announce this month that it’s opening a European office. It will be followed by a similar announcement in another part of the world.

MidContinent Steel and Wire company impacted by tariffs on imported steel.
Mid Continent Steel and Wire

Trump-administration tariffs on imported steel and aluminum imposed last June were intended to boost U.S. production, create jobs and investment in American manufacturing. The impact has been just the opposite at the Mid Continent Steel and Wire company in southeast Missouri.

“We are suffering,” said Chris Pratt, Mid Continent’s general operations manager. “Our company is losing money every month, our employment is down 200 employees since June, and our sales are off 60 percent.”

The 70 Grand bus stops near St. Louis University in December 2018.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

2018 marked big changes for transit in St. Louis.