Economy & Innovation | St. Louis Public Radio

Economy & Innovation

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 19, 2010 - January's overall unemployment rate jumped to 10.7 percent in the St. Louis metropolitan area, with Illinois communities the hardest hit, according to preliminary numbers released Friday by the U.S. Department of Labor.

A few communities on the Missouri side of the Mississippi saw jobless rates decrease -- to 7.6 percent in University City and 7.8 percent in O'Fallon, Mo. But unemployment spiked to 19.7 percent in East St. Louis, up from 18 percent in December and 14.5 percent in January 2009. One decade ago, unemployment in East St. Louis was less than half its current rate: 8.5 percent in 2000.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 15, 2010 - By his own account, the past three and a half weeks have been a "whirlwind affair" for David Gilbert, the automotive technology professor from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale who in mid-February found a potentially industry-changing glitch in the on-board computer of a Toyota vehicle.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 14, 2010 - To most residents of St. Louis County, April 6 is just another local election day. But to former St. Louis Mayor Vincent C. Schoemehl, "This is the starkest civic choice in my lifetime."

Schoemehl sits on the board of Metro, the transit system. On April 6, voters in St. Louis County will turn thumbs up or down on Proposition A, a half-cent sales tax increase for Metro.

New Gateway Mall Conservancy turns its attention to renewing Gateway Mall

Mar 12, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 12, 2010 - The new Gateway Mall Conservancy board, which will plan, design, pay for and complete changes to the swath of land that runs from Union Station east to the Old Courthouse, met for the first time on Friday.

The group is expected to use the Gateway Mall master plan, approved last year, as a blueprint for updates to the mall. It will have the authority to review any proposed expansion, modification, replacement, relocation, adaptive re-use, or removal of existing roads, paths, parking lots, recreation areas or natural areas.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 9, 2010 - "Jobs, jobs, jobs!"

That's the mantra of local leaders trying to convince St. Louis County voters to pass a half-cent sales tax increase to benefit Metro on April 6.

The message: Public transit is the key to attracting new jobs to the region.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 5, 2010 - A budget appropriations committee in the Missouri House of Representatives has voted to eliminate funding for community health centers at a time when more Missourians are finding themselves unemployed, uninsured and in need of health-care providers.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 4, 2010 - To protect the nation from terrorism, law enforcement agencies in the United States have to move from an attitude of need to know information to one of need to share it, former Judge William H. Webster said Thursday night.

Webster - the only person ever to head both the FBI and CIA - said progress has been made toward the goal of making the United States safer. But he noted that Americans still have an ambivalent attitude when it comes to the intelligence that the government needs to prevent attacks like the one on 9/11.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 3, 2010 - There’s been noticeable buzz in recent days since word came that St. Louis is bidding to be a test market for Google’s ultra-high speed fiber optic internet service.

Google is planning to bring its experimental broadband network -– said to be about 100 times faster than what most Americans have today -- to a select few communities across the country. For the techies out there, the speed of the broadband network is 1 gigabit a second. Google says it is eventually planning to offer the service at what it calls a “competitive price” to at least 50,000 and up to 500,000 people.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 1, 2010 - Tearful moments at the end of camp are a rite of passage. Still, Brian Blanchard, chairman of a three-day conference known as the St. Louis Innovation Camp, didn’t expect emotions to run high toward the conclusion of his event last weekend at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

What brought some in this group of engineers, software developers, marketers and business executives to tears? A conversation about the personal toll that running a business can take that included tales of strained relationships.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 28, 2010 - As the third hard winter of the Great Recession turns to spring, how is the U.S. economy really doing? We put that question to St. Louis financial analyst Juli Niemann who described it this way: The hemorrhaging has stopped, but the patient still can't get out of bed.

That's Niemann's assessment of the big economic picture, which can often be difficult to see through all the little snapshots floating past us on any given day.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 25, 2010 - When it comes to roads, Natural Bridge -- at least as it cuts through part of north St. Louis County -- is a bit of an ugly duckling.

Commercial properties virtually hug the road with no green space between the two; utility poles prop up unsightly wires and litter the landscape; sidewalks are narrow and uninviting.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 24, 2010 - When it comes to casinos, situations without losers are hard to come by, but that's just the outcome St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley says he is looking for in north county.

Confronted in Clayton Wednesday morning by opponents to a proposed $350 million casino complex near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, Dooley said he is hoping that the controversy could end in a way agreeable to all sides, just as he said it did in Lemay, where the River City casino will open next week.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 23, 2010 - In conversations about what ails downtown St. Louis, Interstate 70 often gets tagged as one of the villains. It’s an eyesore. It’s a barrier between the city and the waterfront. The grumbling has come from many corners and is sure to continue as discussions heat up over how better to connect the Gateway Arch to the Mississippi River, St. Louis and Illinois. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 19, 2010 - "For the past several years, wealthy Chinese officials, businessmen, bookies and gangsters have been cutting a golden path to the casinos of Las Vegas, losing vast sums of money, much of it not theirs. Their exploits combine capitalist-style excesses of the rich and famous with post-Communist sleaze, and Vegas's glitter with China's ancient fascination with gaming, while reflecting China's mind-boggling corruption and its record-breaking economic growth."

Commentary: Repeal the e-tax? Batman shrugged

Feb 18, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 18, 2010 - In the movies and in the graphic novels that we used to call comic books, Batman defends the mythical city of Gotham from the sinister plots of a host of outlandish villains.

Though the specifics of the peril vary from episode to episode, the one commonality of all these fiendish schemes is the desire to bring Gotham to its knees so that its adversaries can take over and run things the way they want to. Standing alone against the wily enemies of lawful civic order is the caped crusader, who’s got a few tricks of his own up his sleeve.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 17, 2010 - The Pew Research Center is in the midst of a series of reports on the behaviors, values and opinions of teenagers and twentysomethings who are part of the so-called Millennial Generation (born after 1980). Last week’s study looked at religion among young people. This week’s installment is a much broader survey covering everything from marriage rates to political leanings.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 16, 2010 - Joe Edwards and other supporters of a Loop trolley did not get the good news on Wednesday they were hoping for. The Loop Trolley did not win the $50 million-plus from the federal TIGER transportation grant program. Trolley projects in four other cities -- Portland, Ore., New Orleans, Dallas and Tucson -- got funding. But the Loop Trolley has other grant requests still pending. No St. Louis city or county projects got TIGER funding; Madison County got $6 million for a regional port district.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 16, 2010 - It was one of the most visible signs of the ongoing mortgage crisis in St. Louis: thousands of people waiting for hours at the Chaifetz Arena last summer to meet with counselors from the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, a national nonprofit housing advocacy group, that said it could provide same-day solutions to many financially troubled homeowners.

Commentary: Two criteria by which to judge tax plans

Feb 15, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 15, 2010 - Bills before the Missouri General Assembly -- (HJR) 56 , HJR 71(SJR) 29 and SJR 37 -- would radically alter the state's tax structure by doing away with the state's individual and corporate income taxes and the earnings tax in St. Louis and Kansas City.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 15, 2010 - The head of the economics department at Washington University said Tuesday that figures used to support Paul McKee’s application for tax-increment financing and redevelopment of north St. Louis do not add up.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 10, 2010 - A national competition to design improvements for the Gateway Arch grounds and its surroundings moved forward today with the announcement that nine teams had been selected to participate in the next stage. That task involves completing their teams and presenting themselves again to the jury. They are among 49 teams from the United States and seven other countries that entered the competition last month.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 9, 2010 - An estimated 3 million American homes will be caught in the foreclosure process this year, and Chris and Kelly Green of Lake St. Charles are fighting hard to keep their house from being one of them.

But the Greens, both Missouri National Guard soldiers who served in Iraq, have grown weary of their home-front battle. So far, they’ve held on to the 1,300-square-foot house they bought in September 2008, but life’s mortars just keep coming their way.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 9, 2010 - I entered Frank P. Tillman elementary school in Kirkwood in 1954, the first year that the Kirkwood public schools desegregated. That didn't mean there were any black students. There weren't.

Kirkwood was desegregating not because it chose to, but because it was the law of the land. Before Brown vs. Board of Education was announced that spring, Kirkwood had been fighting a group of black parents who had gone to federal court to force desegregation. After Brown, a federal court ordered Kirkwood desegregated.

Commentary: The rich aren't like Charlie Brown

Feb 9, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 9, 2010 - A few days ago the Wall Street Journal ran a screaming headline: "WEALTHY FACE TAX INCREASE." Let's consider how the headline relates to that lovely lass Lucy, Charles Schulz's Peanuts character.

What a little harpy. All of Schulz's work is poignant and funny, but to me the funniest strips of all have been the ones in which Charlie Brown is kicking the football and Lucy is the holder. He lines up to kick, he runs to the ball, and at the last moment she pulls the ball away. He ends up on his arse each and every time.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 7, 2010 - In her recent search to find a wedding present for a friend, Stephanie Kessler decided on an Amazon gift card. Kessler knew that the groom-to-be liked the television series "Lost," but instead of picking which seasons to buy on DVD, she wanted to give him the option to own whatever season he wanted.

Therein lies the allure of the gift card, which has become a staple during the holidays and other gift-giving occasions.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 5, 2010 - Missouri lawmakers are considering proposals that would make dramatic changes in the state's revenue structure by eliminating individual and corporate income taxes and replacing them with a greatly expanded sales tax. Four bills that would make this change have been introduced in the Legislature: including House Joint Resolution (HJR) 56 , HJR 71 and Senate Joint Resolutions (SJR) 29 and SJR 37 .

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 5, 2010 - Perception often collides with facts when it comes to race. That is especially true in the intertwined story of Kirkwood's redevelopment of its Meacham Park neighborhood and Charles Lee "Cookie" Thornton's deadly assault at City Hall on Feb. 7, 2008.

Thornton, a resident of Meacham Park, was once a leading supporter of the redevelopment in the predominantly African-American neighborhood, but he became disaffected. He killed five city officials and shot Mayor Mike Swoboda, who died later that year. Thornton was killed by police.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 3, 2010 - Last year, when the Twice Blessed Resale Shop was just a concept, judges in the Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation Competition, run through Washington University’s Skandalaris Center, halted the shop team’s bid for start-up seed money in the semifinal round.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 2, 2010 - The overall unemployment rate in the St. Louis area held at 9.8 percent in December, but many Illinois communities saw slight increases over November, while Missouri towns saw slight decreases, according to new statistics released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In Alton, for example, unemployment rose from 12.2 percent in November to 12.5 percent in December, while University City saw its rate decrease from 9.5 to 9.3 percent. The unemployment rate for the metropolitan area for December was 2.2 percent higher than December 2008.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 1, 2010 - The conference center at St. Patrick Center was nearly filled with unemployed business professionals in suits and ties and "casual Friday" attire, listening to Kenneth Harrington of Washington University discuss the ups and downs of being your own boss.

The subject was entrepreneurship, and they took notes in binders -- some imprinted with their old company logos. In a way, it all seemed comfortably similar to any other business seminar held on a Tuesday morning, down to the ubiquitous PowerPoint presentation and the aroma of coffee drifting in from the continental breakfast available in the adjoining room.

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