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Ferguson businesses

Centene opens new facility in Ferguson

Apr 14, 2016
Centene announced plans for this new claims center shortly after the death of Michael Brown
Centene Corporation

Updated Friday, April 15, 3 p.m. to included comments from grand opening: The opening of Centene's $25 million center in Ferguson Friday is the completion of a goal set by the company's chief executive officer shortly after violence broke out in the city in 2014.

Michael Neidorff said the investment by the Clayton-based managed care company should send a message to some employers who left Ferguson in the aftermath of Michael Brown's death.

(Maria Altman|St. Louis Public Radio)

When the Starbucks in Ferguson opens in the spring, it will be more than a new coffee place.

Getting a Starbucks is a big deal for the small city that saw several businesses go up in flames in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death in 2014.

"There’s probably that belief in some people’s minds that people would be hesitant to make an investment along West Florissant or an investment in north county," said Ferguson Mayor James Knowles. "The fact that Starbucks has stepped up to do that, we’re very excited and very appreciative."

Joshura Davis joined "St. Louis on the Air" in studio.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Since last August, local business owners have provided the nation with an alternative narrative of Ferguson and neighboring Dellwood.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

The burned-out buildings are gone, but one year after Michael Brown’s death the scars at local businesses along West Florissant Avenue are still apparent.

At Zisser Tire & Auto Service in Dellwood there is plywood on several windows. Owner John Zisser said he’s just waiting on a city permit to change the window configuration.

State Treasurer Clint Zweifel speaks to the St. Louis Regional Chamber on Friday, March 13, 2015.
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Soon after Michael Brown’s shooting death sparked riots and protests that jolted businesses in and around Ferguson, state Treasurer Clint Zweifel decided to get the lay of the land.

Speaking to the St. Louis Regional Chamber, Zweifel said he didn’t look to consultants or political figures for help. Nor did try to figure out solutions from a distance.

The Fashions R Boutique was one of 13 businesses in Dellwood that burned down during Monday's riots following the announcement of the Darren Wilson grand jury decision.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

The United Way of Greater St. Louis is hoping to provide basic assistance to employees who lost work when businesses in Ferguson and Dellwood were looted or burned in November. But the agency is struggling to locate qualified individuals. 

Displaced employees who qualify for the assistance would have had to have lost their jobs or had their hours significantly reduced, by more than 40 hours a week, said the organization's vice president of community response Regina Greer.

(Wayne Pratt, St. Louis Public Radio)

Realtors in the St. Louis area say they are fighting a negative perception of the region in the aftermath of last summer’s violence in Ferguson.

Many in the market, especially in North St. Louis County, are concerned about low re-sale value, said St. Louis Association of Realtors President Janet Judd.

“The perception is that values tumbled, plummeted.”

About 200 realtors gathered at the association’s headquarters Friday to examine how the unrest and its aftermath have affected the area’s housing market.

Little Caesars
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

At least two funds are helping Ferguson-area businesses get back on their feet following the violence and unrest that has affected the area since August.

Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson Aug. 20.
Office of U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay

The message to U.S. Attorney Eric Holder from Ferguson: hurry up.

In an open letter to Holder sent late last month, several Ferguson business owners, residents and even the mayor urged Holder to quickly release findings from his office’s federal investigation into Michael Brown’s death.

#FergusonRebuild, Cathy's Kitchen
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s Secretary of State has begun a new initiative to help businesses in the Ferguson area get back on their feet.

Jason Kander, a Democrat, is donating $25,000 from his campaign fund to kick off #FergusonRebuild. He said the campaign will also seek donations through the crowdfunding site, GoFundMe.com.

Jerome Jenkins business, Ferguson
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

A private relief fund for businesses affected by the looting and violence in Ferguson will be announced Thursday.

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander will be in Ferguson Thursday morning for the announcement of #FergusonRebuild. The initiative is in partnership with the Regional Business Council and North County Incorporated.

The non-governmental grants will help businesses in Ferguson, Dellwood and Jennings.

Swiish Bar and Grill
(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

The owners of Swiish Bar and Grill in Jennings didn’t suffer broken glass or looting during the unrest following Michael Brown’s death, but they still took a big loss.

That’s because state and local law enforcement ordered the business closed so that the police command center could be staged just outside the bar. Swiish Bar and Grill at 8021 West Florissant Ave., is just down the street from where protests were taking place in Ferguson. It remained closed for 17 days.

Aaron Dickerson paints St. Louis cityscape on the plywood covering the windows of an auto parts shop in Dellwood on Saturday, December 6, 2014.
Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

More than 30 businesses in Ferguson and Dellwood now have artwork covering their windows instead of ordinary plywood.

Inspired by the artistic efforts of friends on South Grand, Tom Halaska organized the “Paint for Peace” project to coordinate volunteers, donated supplies and businesses in north St. Louis County that wanted to participate.

Halaska, who owns the Art Bar on Cherokee Street, said he wanted to bring people together in a positive way.

Businesses along South Florissant Road continued to board up windows Tuesday afternoon.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Business owners in Ferguson are asking why the Missouri National Guard didn’t do more to protect their property Monday night.

At least a dozen small businesses along West Florissant Avenue and South Florissant Road were looted and set on fire within hours of the grand jury’s announcement. That includes Sam’s Meat Market, the store that served as a backdrop for press conference last week where business owners pleaded for peaceful protests.

Committee chairman and former mayor Brian Fletcher talks with a resident and a volunteer about the "I Love Ferguson" new store that will sell items including the logo-bearing T-shirts.
Stephanie Lecci / St. Louis Public Radio

You've seen the lawn signs; now everything from T-shirts to coffee mugs bearing the "I Love Ferguson" logo will be sold at a new store opening Friday.

St. Louis Economic Development Partnership website

The global manufacturing company Emerson is upping its investment in the Ferguson community to show "renewed commitment" to the place it has been headquartered for 70 years.

"We choose to be here and are committed to this community, especially now in its increased time of need," chairman and CEO David Farr said in a press release. "We...want to help remove barriers so that more of our neighbors can succeed."

Courtesy Centene

Earlier this month Centene Corp., a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Clayton, announced it would build a new medical claims facility in Ferguson. The company, which operates government-sponsored health care plans in 20 states, has said it will hire 150 to 200 employees at the facility.

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Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says that Centene Corporation’s plans to build a new claims processing center in Ferguson doesn’t just create jobs.

It’s also about sending a message.

"We're very heartened by their willingness to make an investment,” Nixon said Tuesday. “It now sends a signal, not only in St. Louis but around the world that North County is open for business."

Nixon offered up praise for Centene at the beginning of his luncheon address to members of the Regional Chamber and Growth Association.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced a $1 million dollar Small Business Relief Program Thursday in the wake of unrest in Ferguson.

The program will offer zero-percent interest loans of up to $10,000 for small businesses impacted by the riots. The loans are available to businesses in Dellwood, Jennings and unincorporated St. Louis County as well as Ferguson.

Maria Altman (St. Louis Public Radio)

The stretch of West Florissant Avenue where most of the protests have taken place is easy to spot.

Most of the businesses’ windows are covered in plywood, including at Three T’s Beauty Salon.

When a couple of credit union officials came in offering to help with the damage, owner Triondus Sleet explained she “pre-boarded” because she had to leave town for a few days.

"No, I’m fine," she told the men.

"So, you didn’t have any issues at all? Well, if you do, stop by," one of the men said.