Economy & Innovation | St. Louis Public Radio

Economy & Innovation

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

The International Institute in St. Louis helps immigrants to get settled, find housing and find jobs. Feb 2017
Marie Schwarz | St. Louis Public Radio

The International Institute of St. Louis has received a grant from the U.S. Justice Department to fund initiatives to address problems of labor and sex trafficking in the St. Louis region.

The grant will provide the institute with $250,000 annually for three years.

“The services available to victims includes everything from housing, supportive services, access to health care and general case management,” said Blake Hamilton, the International Institute’s vice president of programs.

Webster University's Jack Croghan (at left) and local attorney and soccer enthusiast Brian Howe joined Friday's talk show to provide analysis.
Jack Croghan and St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s episode of St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh went behind the headlines to discuss the mounting effort to bring a Major League Soccer team to St. Louis.

The decision to make a bid for an MLS team — spearheaded by two St. Louis families – has been attracting both local and national attention.

Joining Marsh for the conversation were Jack Croghan and Brian Howe.

Merav Gleit, Monsanto's bee health platform lead, with the company's backyard bee hives in summer 2016.
File photo | Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

The state of Missouri is again set to fund non-traditional and urban agriculture entrepreneurs like shrimp farmers, wine producers and beekeepers. Those are some of the businesses the state’s department of agriculture has supported in the past few years through a special program.

The state is accepting applications until Oct. 26 for the next round of funding for its Urban and Non-Traditional Agriculture Matching Grant Program, which aims to spur innovation and create more jobs in Missouri’s agricultural sector.

Globalhack VII tackles challenges faced by local agencies that serve immigrant community.
Globalhack

Globalhack VII, a 48-hour hack-athon, returns to the Chaifetz Arena on the Saint Louis University campus this weekend with the goal to develop software to aid local agencies that serve immigrant and refugee communities in the region.

Matt Menietti, executive director of Globalhack, calls the event a “civic tech project.” More than 700 hackers are expected to participate in the event with $100,000 in prizes to be awarded to the best software solutions on Sunday.

William Knoedelseder is the author of the new book, "Fins: Harley Earl, the Rise of General Motors, and the Glory Days of Detroit."
EVIE HEMPHILL | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, William Knoedelseder told host Don Marsh that when he decided to write a book about the rise of the American automotive industry, he, “tried to specifically make it not a book about cars.”

Rather, the University of Missouri-St. Louis alumnus and celebrated author wanted his newest biography, “Fins: Harley Earl, the Rise of General Motors, and the Glory Days of Detroit,” to paint a broader portrait of a moment in American history.

Jim McKelvey is the co-founder of LaunchCode, a St. Louis-based company celebrating its fifth anniversary this October.
LaunchCode

LaunchCode, an organization headquartered in St. Louis, celebrates its five-year anniversary this week. The nonprofit helps people enter the tech field by providing education and job placement services.

“We’ve got over 1,400 careers that we’ve launched so far in the five years that LaunchCode has been [in St. Louis], but that doesn’t count the people who have taken our training and gotten placed elsewhere,” explained entrepreneur and investor Jim McKelvey.

Along with fellow St. Louisan Jack Dorsey, McKelvey is the co-founder of Square and founder of LaunchCode, a company McKelvey started because St. Louis lacked a skilled workforce adept at programming.

Members of National Association of Letter Carriers rallied against privatization of the U.S. Postal Service in cities around the country including St. Louis on Monday.
Melody Walker | St. Louis Public Radio

Wearing bright blue T-shirts with the slogan “U.S. Mail — Not for Sale,” about 80 postal workers gathered Monday in downtown St. Louis.

They joined postal workers across the country rallying against a plan floated by the Trump administration to privatize the U.S. Postal Service.

(L-R) Gabriela Ramirez-Arellano, Carol Lara and Ness Sandoval talk about the experience of running small businesses and the influence of Hispanic businesses in the region.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

While Missouri may not be the first state that comes to mind as home to a thriving Hispanic/Latino population, data shows that the demographic is growing rapidly and in turn directly impacting the economics of the region.

Over a span of five years, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses in the region has increased by 42 percent, according to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of St. Louis. Additionally, Missouri ranks sixth in the nation for its number of Hispanic residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the influence Hispanic business owners have on the region in light of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 to Oct. 15) with Gabriela Ramirez-Arellano, business counselor at the HCC and co-host of the bilingual business podcast DmeToo.

Building boom and workforce shortage combine to create a crisis in construction industry
Melody Walker | St. Louis Public Radio

The workforce shortage in the construction industry is not going away.

A survey by the Associated General Contractors of America found that 80 percent of Midwest contractors report difficulty finding skilled workers. And, nearly half of the companies surveyed expect hiring is going to get harder over the next year.

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

A few dozen residents gathered in a hearing room at City Hall Wednesday for an unusual nighttime hearing on a proposed bill that would require a city-wide public vote on any deals to privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

It was the first of three hearings held by the Board of Aldermen’s Transportation and Commerce Committee.

STL Fashion startups face tariffs on Chinese imports
Melody Walker|St. Louis Public Radio

The burgeoning St. Louis fashion industry is bracing for the impact of the latest tariffs on goods from China.

Handbags, backpacks, luggage, hats and baseball gloves are just a few of the thousands of products covered in the latest round of U.S. tariffs imposed on goods imported from China. The 10 percent tax went into effect Sept. 24 and it will increase to 25 percent on Jan. 1.

Experts say consumers should expect to see higher prices before the end of the year.

Bird electric scooters.  July 2018
Provided | Bird

It’s harder to find a bike-share bicycle in St. Louis now than it was in April. 

The citywide decrease happened largely because bike-share company ofo, which launched in St. Louis in April, pulled its services from the city in July. The China-based company left many local markets, including St. Louis, to consolidate its operations.

A delay in repair part shipments also forced Lime to pull some of its bikes from the street in the last two months, City of St. Louis officials said.

Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio

The news that her Shop 'n Save in Shrewsbury will soon transform into a Schnucks wasn’t welcomed by LaDonna Slovensky.

“If it’s going to be a Schnucks, I probably won’t shop here,” the Affton resident said as she unloaded groceries from a shopping cart into her car. “I’ve always been partial to Shop 'n Save. I’ll probably find another place to shop. Schnucks is a little too expensive for me.”

After many delays, the city's contract with consultants to explore the privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport may be official soon.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

A group working with FLY 314, the non-profit overseeing the possible lease of St. Louis Lambert International Airport, plans to knock on 100,000 doors to survey city residents about the airport.

The goal is to get 20,000 residents, representing all of the city’s wards, to answer a 23-question survey. The questions have not been made public, but there is an interactive map indicating where canvassers have been and how many doors they have knocked on in each ward.

St. Louis store owners (from left) Vincent Hromadka, Maddie Earnest and Chris Goodson are each familiar with the challenges - and the joys - of running a smaller grocery store in the city.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The small Soulard grocery store that Vincent Hromadka’s grandfather first opened in 1912, shortly after emigrating from Bohemia, has seen its share of challenges over the past century.

From dealing with an influx of much larger competitors, to moving locations in order to make way for a highway, to maintaining customer loyalty, it’s a substantive list of struggles to overcome. But Hromadka also has many reasons for continuing his grandfather’s legacy – and for why their now-106-year-old family business has persisted as long as it has.

“I enjoy what I do,” he told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Tuesday. “My two sons work for me full time, and I’ve got a third son who also comes in, and we try to communicate with our customers and supply them with their needs – if they need something special and we can get it, we will do it.”

Julie Smith (left) and Marialice Curran (right) encourage adults to embrace social media and help children process what they are consuming.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

More parents and educators are pushing to involve children in media literacy discussions to encourage “humanizing the screen,” Marialice Curran, founder and executive director of the Digital Citizenship Institute, told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh.

On Friday’s program, Curran joined Julie Smith, media and communications instructor at Webster University, to discuss how adults can use social media and online information to help children better connect to the world, develop authentic relationships and model acceptable behavior.

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.

Activists rally outside a McDonald's in St. John. Sept. 18, 2018.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Over 50 McDonald’s workers and advocates rallied outside of the McDonald’s at St. Charles Rock Road and Brown Road in St. John on Tuesday as a part of a one-day national strike to protest on-the-job sexual harassment at the restaurant chain.

The national strike was first proposed by women’s groups within Fight for $15, a workers’ rights advocacy organization. It was later approved after a nationwide vote by Fight for $15 members Sept. 11.

Shop 'n Save stores sold to Schnucks in St. Louis region
photo credit|Paul Sableman, Flickr, Creative Commons

Shop ‘n Save is checking out of the grocery-store business in the St. Louis region.

Schnucks Markets is purchasing 19 area Shop 'n Save groceries owned by parent company SuperValu and will rebrand them as Schnucks stores. The remaining 17 Shop 'n Save locations will close if SuperValu is unable to find a buyer by the end of the year.

The acquisition will boost the number of Schnucks grocery stores by 20 percent. Fifteen of the stores include pharmacies, which will also be purchased and run by Schnucks.

Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The Denver-based Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator is expanding its program to St. Louis to support startups doing research in food, water and energy shortages.

The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center will partner with the incubator, called IN2, to provide research labs and support for early stage startups.

IN2 was created in 2014 to support the development and commercialization of energy-related technology through early stage startups.

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