Economy & Innovation | St. Louis Public Radio

Economy & Innovation

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 29, 2009 -  Thousands of St. Louisans will no doubt rejoice when Interstate 64/Highway 40 reopens in a few weeks. But rejoicing even more will be a small group of men and women for whom the project meant headaches beyond fuming in congested traffic.

When the Missouri Department of Transportation announced that it would shut down Highway 40 for the largest highway construction project in its history, drivers were more than a little skeptical.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 27, 2009 - Rosalind Williams, Ferguson's director of planning and development, is shopping for houses that most prospective homebuyers won't consider: little one-story ranch-style homes built in the 1950s and 1960s, with two bedrooms and one bathroom.

And one more thing: The houses must be foreclosures that have been on the market for at least 90 days.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 26, 2009 - Tying up loose ends from a busy weekend, I dropped in Friday on the inaugural Strange Loop Conference for software developers. You wouldn’t know it was a first-time event judging from the attendance. Organizer Alex Miller said that roughly 320 people (mostly locals but some from outside the region) had registered for the two-day conference at the Tivoli Theater.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 22, 2009 - Despite lingering concerns over the use of eminent domain, a committee of the Board of Aldermen voted Thursday to send the $8 billion plan to develop north St. Louis -- and nearly $200 million of tax-increment financing to help finance the opening phases -- to the full board.

The plan by developer Paul McKee could win final passage in the board as early as next week.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 20, 2009 - On the first day of the month, Veronica Macklin watches for the economic indicator in her neighborhood that says more to her than the ups and downs of the Dow Jones:

She notes the number of U-Hauls on the streets of north St. Louis.

Macklin attributes the regular spike in moving activity to homeowners who have gotten foreclosure notices that their homes are on the auction block -- and to renters who can't afford next month's rent.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 20, 2009 - The Baby Boomer executives whose idealism helped drive growth in the nonprofit sector are retiring or preparing for their exits. Who will take their place?

It’s a question that April Shelton, president of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network St. Louis chapter, hears quite often. “Nonprofits aren’t always great at grooming leaders,” she said. “They haven’t necessarily prepared for the next generation to step into positions.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 15, 2009 -The St. Louis Bloggers Guild’s second-annual Interactive Festival takes place Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Shock City Studios, 2200 Gravois Ave. Social media types from across the region will gather for the free networking event that features both roundtable discussions and classes. One such panel is on online privacy, intellectual property rights, and new media ethics. Melody Meiners, public relations director for the Bloggers Guild, will moderate that panel and said she plans to bring into the discussion the Federal Trade Commission’s new directive to bloggers to disclose payments received from anyone whose products they review.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 14, 2009 - On one hand, the decision by the Obama administration to build thousands of federally subsidized rental units in American cities for low- and moderate-income families has been welcomed by nonprofit organizations that work with St. Louisans displaced by foreclosure.

On the other hand, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan's acknowledgment that not everyone can or should own a home is being seen as a major policy shift from the Bush administration's emphasis on expanding minority homeownership as a means of accumulating generational wealth.

New day announced for agriculture research

Oct 7, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 7, 2009 -  St. Louisan Dr. Roger Beachy was introduced Thursday as the first director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and handed a broad mandate to make the U.S. a world leader in agricultural research.

When he introduced Beachy at the National Press Club in Washington, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack outlined a series of ambitious policy goals for the nnew research agency including:

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 30, 2009 - After holding out longer than he originally planned, Dan McCoy finally bought his first home in June for $172,000 -- a four bedroom in Clifton Heights that had been on the market for roughly a year, during which the original asking price dropped by more than $35,000.

Rather than buying a house in the summer of 2008, McCoy, 28, and his wife, Diana, 27, decided to rent a year longer in the Central West End and save for their big purchase. During that time, not only did property values drop but a new incentive caught their attention: an $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers that went into effect earlier this year.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 25, 2009 - More than four decades ago, Dave Sinclair started out as “the South County Ford Dealer,” but in recent years he had become widely known as “the American car dealer in South County.” He had become a one-man “buy American” campaign and union members considered him the best friend in management they ever had.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 25, 2009 - Metro, St. Louis' public transit agency, today named Bob Baer as president and CEO. Baer, who has held the position on an interim basis since Larry Salci left the position abruptly at the end of 2007, will receive $190,000 a year in salary.

Baer, who will turn 72 next month, said the board asked him to stay on after a national search launched last year failed to turn up a candidate the commissioners felt was a right fit.

Goodbye, Jamestown Mall - Hello, Lindbergh Place?

Sep 25, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 25, 2009 - Goodbye, Jamestown Mall -- hello, Lindbergh Place, the new Spirit of St. Louis County?

That's the vision presented by a group of urban planners Friday morning that would demolish the moribund north county shopping mall and replace it with a lifestyle center that could feature everything from restaurants to housing to green space.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 23, 2009 - Some of the 40,000 homeowners who attended the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America's well-publicized "Save the Dream Tour" for financially troubled homeowners in St. Louis this summer say they are still waiting to hear about the status of the "same-day" solutions promoted by the organization.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 23, 2009 - The quilt sits in the quiet gallery, left foot crossed over right, with pink and orange flowers painted over bare bones.

That's right -- the quilt sits. And it has bones.

"Pretty much anything goes," says Kathleen Dawson, director of Quilt National.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 22, 2009 - Sherre Waggoner of Maplewood no longer knows what to think about her experience eight weeks ago at a highly touted event for financially troubled homeowners called the "Save the Dream Tour," held by NACA, the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America.

But as the days have passed, she has become increasingly worried.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 22, 2009 - Travelers at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport making their way from an American Airlines gate to the main terminal may notice a brightly colored mural from the Convention and Visitors Commission asking:

"Where will St. Louis take you next?"

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 21, 2009 - It's 7:30 on a Monday morning, and men and women in their best business attire are streaming into the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton as part of what may be the hardest job they've ever had -- finding a job.

Some of them hang back, tentatively surveying the crowd -- those who need work and those who may have work to offer. But most plunge straight in with a big smile and a right hand thrust forward in greeting -- and business cards at the ready, just in case.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 17, 2009 - At first, there was just a brick storefront, the wood of the windows and doors painted pale and bright yellow, with a sign leaning against the door that read "Urban Studio Cafe."

And at first, there were intentions, plans and hopes that a cafe could open in a part of St. Louis that's often forgotten, and create jobs, and give the community a place to gather and the organizers a place to offer community programs.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 12, 2009 - One year after the U.S. economy started its messy slide down the melting financial mountainside, some economists believe the bottom is in sight.

On Wednesday, for example, economists at the Federal Reserve offered this glimmer of hope that the U.S. recession is nearing an end: All but one of its 12 regions described recent economic activity as "stable," showing "signs of stabilization" or "firmed." The exception, by the way, was the St. Louis district, which offered a more cautious viewpoint: Economic activity remains weak here, but the pace of decline is "moderating."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 9, 2009 - The state of Missouri should work to recapture lost jobs and production in the auto industry by concentrating on technology, education and economic incentives, a task force said in a report released Wednesday by Gov. Jay Nixon.

Speaking at a Ford assembly plant in Claycomo, Mo., near Kansas City -- a facility that is one of the few bright spots in a bleak automotive picture, with a third shift about to be added -- Nixon said environmentally sound "green" vehicles could help Missouri regain some of the thousands of jobs that have left the state.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 4, 2009 - During the past 50 years, Labor Day has transformed from a day to observe labor unions and the accomplishments of the labor movement, such as 40-hour-work weeks and minimum wage, to a day when everyone gets a break, barbecues some burgers and celebrates the end of summer.

"It's become a national holiday even for people who don't consider themselves to be workers in the traditional sense of the word," says Henry Berger, professor emeritus of history at Washington University.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 2, 2009 - Tuesday night was a busy one for activists on both sides of the political spectrum.

St. Louis Tea Party activists report that more than 1,000 like-minded conservative shoppers flocked to the Whole Foods market on Clayton Road in Town and Country, as part of a "Buycott'' to show support for the food chain's chief executive, John Mackey.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon Sept. 2, 2009 - If you've not heard much lately about plans to rejuvenate the Arch grounds, that's about to change.

The National Park Service hopes to have its master plan ready to go by late next month.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon Sept. 2, 2009 - Suzanne Miller has always worked in food -- as a waitress, a hostess, she even worked in catering for a while. She got tired of that, though, and started working as a bartender 10 months ago.

With this slow summer season for restaurants, it hasn't been great timing. Thanks to the economy, people are eating out even less, she says, and tipping less, too. So, Miller's had to make some changes.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon Sept. 2, 2009 - Twitter co-founder and chairman Jack Dorsey has more than 1.1 million people following his every tweet. But how many people can say they’ve seen the master of microblogging in person?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 1, 2009 - One month into Metro's restoration of some of the massive service cuts made in March, officials say the plan is running relatively smoothly.

However, they are reluctant to talk about how many people have actually returned to the bus, saying it's much too soon to discern a trend.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 31, 2009 - Last week, I posted an interview with the editors of a new book about engaging young people. My intention was to shift the focus elsewhere early this week. But then came along this interesting study by the National Conference on Citizenship showing that volunteering has dipped during the economic downturn.

More specifically, the group’s annual America’s Civic Health Index, billed as the state of civic engagement in America, revealed that 72 percent of people who took part in the national survey said they cut back on time spent volunteering, participating in groups and doing other civic activities in the past year.

Commentary: Trolley idea needs an overhaul

Aug 26, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 26, 2009 - My wife and I are passionate fans of mass transit, and we don't just cheer from the sidelines. For seven years, she has relied on MetroLink to get to work downtown each day from our home in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood. Since the opening of the South County expansion, I have taken it, as much as its practical, to my job in Webster Groves - though for me it is more costly than driving, definitely slower and usually involves taking my bike on the train.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 25, 2009 - CitiMortgage, based in O'Fallon, Mo., is slated to collect a share of more than $1 billion in taxpayer-funded incentives to modify its at-risk mortgages. The company is No. 5 on the Center for Public Integrity's list of the top 25 participants in the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) started by the Obama administration in February.

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