St. Louis Business & Technology News
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by Bob Moore, SLFP.com
ST. LOUIS, MO, (SLFP.com), February 17, 2010 - Governor Jay Nixon awarded $425,227 in Brownfield Redevelopment Incentives to a St. Louis-area restaurant to help the business open a third location and create 59 new jobs. Sweetie Pie's, a St. Louis soul food fixture since 1998, will use the funds to clean up property located at 3643 Delmar Blvd., which will house a new restaurant, bakery and banquet space.
Governor Nixon joined Sweetie Pie's owner, Ms. Robbie Montgomery, at one of her two existing restaurants to announce the Brownfield incentives.
When asked how the decision was made to assist the restaurant owner, Governor Nixon responded enthusiastically. "We are excited by her growth. She's had two successful locations and we are confident the third one will be successful. Also, broadening that effort and putting it in an area were we can use the brownfield funds to clean up property that otherwise wouldn't be useable for businesses is just a win-win situation."
The business intends to use the economic incentives to clean up the proposed third location at an abandoned building which is contaminated with lead paint and asbestos. The renovated property on Delmar, called Sweetie Pie's Upper Crust, will offer breakfast, banquet and meeting space, and separate bakery sales.
Montgomery, who opened her first restaurant, Sweetie Pie's in Ferguson fourteen years ago and another location on Manchester at the Mangrove six years ago, said she was looking forward to the opportunity to offer additional services in a larger facility.
"I'm really excited. It's an existing factory of 20,000 square feet right in front of the Veterans Hospital," stated Montgomery. "Yes, there are a lot of things I'd like to do but I don't have the facility or the space here. I'd like to employ more people. With this large of a facility, I'm hoping to be able to employ 50 - 100 people or more," she said.
"The expansion of Sweetie Pie's is wonderful," commented Senator Robin Wright-Jones, who accompanied Governor Nixon to help announce the award for the new development in her district.
"The fact that it's an African American woman who could do it and the fact that we've been able to award her less than $500,000 of brownfield grants is wonderful. This allows us to create jobs, to create commerce, to buck up one of our small businesses, which is the backbone of the state and federal economy. She has a wonderful establishment and a she has a track record of running a business successfully," stated Wright-Jones.
The Brownfield Tax Credit Program provides financial incentives for the redevelopment of commercial or industrial sites that are contaminated with hazardous substances and have been abandoned or underutilized. Applicants may be approved to receive state incentives for eligible remediation and demolition costs; incentives are provided based on plans for jobs and investment. The Brownfield program is administered by the Missouri Department of Economic Development.
ST. LOUIS, MO, (PRNewswire), February 14, 2010 - Social networks are morphing into "commercial networks" for businesses and will transform the world of work with the profitable opportunities they hold for both individuals and prospective employers, according to Manpower Inc. Organizations can tap previously invisible and inaccessible pools of talent in the form of virtual workforces via the connective power of social media.
"Social networks are really a misnomer because they are turning into commercial entities and changing the way companies do business," said Jeff Joerres, Manpower Inc. Chairman and CEO. "Groups of individuals who, in the past, could not participate in the traditional workforce for religious or cultural reasons, or because of disabilities can now work virtually through social networks. These untapped but highly-skilled workers are critical in the face of an aging global workforce and worsening talent mismatch."
Virtual talent pool Web sites effectively enable companies to access a diverse on-demand workforce and in turn, individuals can offer their skills and services to prospective employers. The beauty of what are becoming commercial networks is that the location is a virtual site and the job can be performed anywhere with an Internet connection. In future, even more highly skilled jobs will infiltrate these pools with a "plug and play" operational system through which workers offer their services and employers can pay for them to complete a specific task, no matter how great the geographical distance.
With the rapid evolution of technology has come the advent of what Manpower has termed "Net Taylorism," whereby projects can be parced into modules without giving the complete picture, to avoid intellectual property concerns, and resourced virtually. Companies can take all of the pieces of the puzzle that are individually worked on virtually and fit them together for later replicable use, simply paying royalties to the module creators.
Joerres provided CEO insights into the growing power and potential of social networks at last month's World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos during a panel discussion titled "Social Networks vs. the CEO - is the CEO prepared?" The nature of social networks means companies now have access to a wealth of innovative ideas in a way that was never possible in the past. Through sites such as Facebook, employees can connect to their CEO, whose access to their unfiltered ideas can inform their view of the business in exciting new ways.
Such collaborative and innovative mindsets around social networks increase employee engagement and enhance the perception that the company and employees are leveraging these tools constructively in pursuit of common business goals. Manpower's new Fresh Perspectives paper, Social Networks vs. Management? Harness the Power of Social Media, explores how companies can harness the popularity and business value that social media can garner to drive employee engagement, boost organizational performance and further corporate goals.
According to Manpower research, 75 percent of employees say their company does not have a formal policy around the use of social networks. Most organizations that have instituted a policy have done so in order to avoid productivity loss, mirroring the corporate reaction to the growing popularity of the World Wide Web in the 1990s, when it was feared that employees would waste too much time idly surfing the Web.
"The focus of company efforts should be to channel use of social networking in directions that benefit organizations and employees alike, rather than trying to control employees' social networking behavior," added Joerres. "The key is to equip your employees with a framework for what's on-message and the tone of your company, and then empower them to be ambassadors of your brand."
McCormack Baron to Remain Downtown
ST. LOUIS, MO, (PRNewswire), February 14, 2010 - McCormack Baron and its affiliates, known for rebuilding urban neighborhoods in central cities across the United States, will relocat its local headquarters and 110 employees to three floors, approximately 37,000 square feet, in the Laclede Gas Building at 720 Olive Street in downtown St. Louis.
Kevin McCormack, President of McCormack Baron Salazar, said "We decided to vacate our lease early at 1415 Olive to accommodate the St. Louis Public Library's $70 million Central Library renovation project and the growth of downtown's newest charter high school, Confluence Academy."
The company looked at a variety of properties throughout the region and concluded that the Downtown core was the best location for its local employees and operations. This hometown company seeks to have transformational impacts on urban neighborhoods they work in. McCormack will move its two related companies, McCormack Baron Salazar and McCormack Baron Ragan, and an affiliated not-for-profit, Urban Strategies, Inc. to the new space. Trivers Associates is providing architectural services for the relocation, and Commercial Client Services is handling the move management tasks.
Partnership President Maggie Campbell comments, "This is a civic-cooperative deal that benefits downtown on many levels. But, retaining businesses and jobs is our top priority so we are thrilled that McCormack Baron is continuing their long time commitment to Downtown St. Louis."
"The relationship between McCormack Baron and the St. Louis Public Library has been much more than that of a landlord and tenant: it has been a partnership. McCormack Baron's occupancy of the Library's building has helped us further the Library's mission in many ways. And now, as the Library moves forward with the massive restoration and renewal of Central Library, we will be able to free enormous areas of space for the public by moving Library offices and work areas into the space created for McCormack Baron. It is efficient and beneficial for both: a win-win situation for St. Louis", said Waller McGuire, Executive Director, St. Louis Public Library.
Ameren CEO Rainwater to Step Down
ST. LOUIS, MO, (PRNewswire), February 14, 2010 - The Board of Directors of Ameren Corporation have announced that Ameren Executive Chairman Gary L. Rainwater, 63, plans to retire from Ameren at the annual shareholders meeting scheduled for April 27, 2010. In connection with his retirement, Rainwater has requested the board not nominate him for membership on the Ameren board at that meeting.
Rainwater has served as executive chairman of the board since May 2009, when Thomas R. Voss succeeded him as president and chief executive officer.
"I have been serving as executive chairman for the past several months to ease the transition to new leadership," said Rainwater. "I believe under Tom and his team that the company is heading in the right direction and that this is the right time to retire."
Voss said that the company is deeply grateful for Rainwater's more than 30 years service to the company and its subsidiaries. "Gary was the driving force behind the creation of Ameren Corporation - a company that now serves triple the number of customers it did a decade ago. His vision and leadership will be missed," Voss added.
Two other directors - Susan S. Elliott, 72, and Douglas R. Oberhelman, 56 - are also leaving the board with today's meeting marking their last regularly scheduled board session before the annual meeting. All three directors will complete the term of their service at the annual shareholders meeting.
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