Wayne Pratt

Wayne Pratt is a veteran journalist who has made stops at radio stations, wire services and websites throughout North America. He comes to St. Louis Public Radio from Indianapolis, where he was Assistant Managing Editor at www.insideindianabusiness.com. Wayne also launched a local news operation at NPR member station WBAA in West Lafayette, Indiana and spent time as a correspondent for a network of more than 800 stations. His career has included positions in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Toronto, Ontario and Phoenix, Arizona. Wayne grew up near Ottawa, Ontario and moved to the United States in the mid-90s on a dare. Soon after, he met his wife and has been in the U.S. ever since.

Enterprise Holdings is strengthening already deep ties to the National Hockey League, the St. Louis Blues and the region. The Clayton-based firm Monday announced a deal to change the name of the Blues' home arena to Enterprise Center. The agreement is for 15 years, with an option for another five.

A St. Louis technology incubator is devoting an entire floor of its historic downtown building to establishing a pipeline of workers and advancements in the highly-skilled field of geospatial technology.

T-REX will soon house a Geospatial Resource Center. T-REX President and Executive Director Patricia Hagen recently spoke about the plans, which have been spurred, in part, by the yet-to-be-built National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's new headquarters in north St. Louis.

Bad decisions by the parent company and a rapidly changing retail grocery landscape are key reasons why Minnesota-based Supervalu is selling a local chain. That's the conclusion of a prominent food industry analyst, who adds it's too early to say what company might end up acquiring Shop 'n Save.

After 19 years, an annual July event to mark a Metro East roadside attraction is no more. Organizers have pulled the plug on “The World’s Largest Catsup Bottle Festival” in Collinsville, saying it’s become too much work.

An O’Fallon, Missouri, resident might have the coolest basement around — especially if you are a hockey fan. Dennis Minner has converted the space into a mini-Scottrade Center, with much of it devoted to his love of the St. Louis Blues hockey team.

Denny Mertz lost $12,000 on his soybeans last week when China proposed tariffs on U.S. agricultural products.

The Chesterfield resident grows soybeans and corn on his 500-acre farm in Elsberry. He said he'll be able to weather the loss, as he owns his land and doesn't have much overhead. Yet Mertz worries that younger farmers could take a significant hit if China and the U.S. don't settle their trade differences, especially because many don't own their land.

"They do not have a lot of equity built up and there's not much reserves to fall back on," he said.

The owners of a Metro East medical marijuana dispensary are trying to ease concerns in the banking industry. HCI Alternatives won't be able to make any deposits at the end of next month if it doesn't find a new financial partner. The company's current bank is severing ties with the industry.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has a new executive for its NGA West headquarters in St. Louis.

Brett Markham was recently named deputy associate director and west executive. He has been with the agency since 2012 and now oversees the current NGA West headquarters in Soulard, an operation in Arnold, as well as some employees at Scott Air Force Base. The total workforce in all three locations is about 3,600.

A critical part of Bayer's multi-billion dollar buyout of Creve Coeur-based Monsanto has been approved. The European Union has signed off on the deal, but with conditions. 

The head of the St. Louis Regional Chamber is resigning, effective at the end of the month. Joe Reagan has been president and CEO of the organization since 2012. The chamber's board already has a replacement lined up — at least on a temporary basis.

Stacey Smith is an Olympian.

The former figure skater competed for the U.S. at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. 

As the ice dance competition wraps up at the Winter Olympics in South Korea, the Clayton resident is watching with a mix of pride, patriotism and accomplishment.

Smith recently spoke with St. Louis Public Radio about how she started in the sport, her memories of Lake Placid and the importance of embracing St. Louis' Olympic legacy.

Regulators and dispensary operators are taking stock of medical marijuana in Illinois as the state's program hits the two-year mark. The Illinois Department of Public Health says it has approved approximately 31,500 patients for the program, compared to more than 36,000 who have completed the application process. It has also approved more than 50 dispensaries throughout the state, including HCI Alternatives in Collinsville.

Gov. Eric Greitens talks often about growing jobs in Missouri.

It was one of the major themes in the Republican governor’s State of the State address last month. He told members of the state House and Senate that he would continue to focus on several areas to create jobs:

“Making sure that we have the right laws on the books to be fair to family businesses, and making strategic investments in education, infrastructure, and workforce development,” Greitens said.

Yet just a few days later, the governor proposed a roughly $68 million reduction for public colleges and universities. The suggested cuts to higher education for the second year in a row drew criticism almost immediately, including from Greiten’s own party.

A bill moving through the Missouri General Assembly calls for mapping the state's more than 2,200 special tax districts. 

The number of such districts has exploded over the last 10 years, according to the bill's sponsor, state Rep. Phil Christofanelli, R-St. Peters. He said in some areas the layering of districts has pushed sales tax rates up in "a considerable way."

The fate of tens of thousands of Missouri jobs could hinge on trade talks set to resume this week in Montreal. Negotiators from the United States, Canada and Mexico will gather for another round of North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations. The U.S. wants to rework the deal, or possibly withdraw altogether.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says roughly 250,000 jobs in Missouri could be affected if the Trump administration decides to leave NAFTA.

A major shift in the national gaming industry will impact at least four casinos in the St. Louis region. Penn National is acquiring Pinnacle Entertainment in a nearly $3 billion deal.

Regulators still need to approve what would be the combination of two of the nation's largest casino operators outside Las Vegas. The companies employ thousands in the area and pay millions in taxes every year.

The internet economy is a new challenge for communities throughout the region - how to deal with online home and room rental companies like Airbnb. For some property owners, listing vacancies online is an attractive way to make a buck or two. But several cities and towns are worried about the impact that attracting strangers will have on neighborhoods. 

The head of a developer with strong St. Louis ties is hoping his commitment to the Loop Trolley will help lift a cloud that has been hanging over the project.

ClayCo Chief Executive Officer Bob Clark says his company decided to make a $750,000 commitment after sensing the initiative was getting a "toxic" reputation.

"It's indicative of a place that is kind of stuck. All of this negativity all of a sudden becomes reality if somebody doesn't do something about it. So, I felt very strongly that it can be exciting," Clark said. "It can be a winning thing."

The debate in a west St. Louis County suburb over the proposed expansion of a senior living community could be over early in the new year. That's when the Kirkwood City Council could make a decision on whether the owners of Aberdeen Heights can move forward with plans to add a multi-story apartment building on its 20-acre complex.

Owners say the expansion is needed to keep up with demand, while a group of neighbors has several concerns about the project.

St. Louis is no longer being considered as an option for the current round of Major League Soccer expansion. League Commissioner Don Garber announced Wednesday that Sacramento, Detroit, Nashville, and Cincinnati are the only cities still in contention to land the two new franchises. The revelation did not surprise some St. Louis soccer supporters. 

There will be another attempt to pass a payday loan bill during next year's legislative session in Jefferson City. State Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City, is planning to refile a proposal he submitted earlier this year but did not receive a hearing. It would place limits on how often a payday loan can be renewed and how much money a person is allowed to take out at one time.

St. Louis could become one of the next fronts in the battle between large and small beer companies.

A nonprofit group representing independent brewers is trying to slow acquisitions by larger corporations, like Anheuser-Busch InBev, which has been on a purchasing binge of the past few years, buying several prominent craft beer companies including Goose Island, Breckenridge and Wicked Weed.

The recommendations of the Ferguson Commission are being touted as a potential roadmap to move forward in the St. Louis region after this year's protests stemming from the not guilty verdict in the murder trial of a former St. Louis Metropolitan Police Officer.  Some of the proposals deal with predatory lending, which often traps low-income earners with very high-interest loans.

The effort to establish a regular spot for many of St. Louis' food trucks is back in the search phase. Supporters are looking for another potential location after a deal announced last year involving property on south Vandeventer Avenue fell through. They have been meeting to examine options, with the goal of having a new spot selected by spring.

The entire site of the former Jamestown Mall is now under the control of St. Louis County. The county Port Authority has contracts for the final two sections of the property, which has become an eyesore since the mall closed in 2014.

An airport in the Metro East that has long been considered by some as a drain on taxpayers is taking a significant step to increase revenue. After years of promoting free parking, MidAmerica Airport in Mascoutah, about 25 miles east of downtown St. Louis on I-64, will start charging a fee in 2018. It's a decision airport leaders do not take lightly.

If you've been waiting to walk around the gate areas of St. Louis Lambert International Airport with a beer or cocktail, you need to continue to exercise patience. The process to revise alcohol permits allowing new state regulations to go into effect is not yet complete.

Some heavy equipment is pounding away this week at the rock in a section of the Mississippi River south of St. Louis. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the removal is essential to keeping cargo moving along the river. Crews are working this week at Thebes, Illinois, near Cape Girardeau.

Shipping on the Mississippi is vital to the U.S. economy. A Corps spokesman said more than 100 million tons of cargo, including 60 percent of the nation's agricultural exports, move along the river every year. And the engineers have a responsibility to keep the shipping channel at least 9-feet deep and 300-feet wide.

Updated Jan. 18 with Amazon decision — Amazon will not consider St. Louis as one of the 20 finalists for the company's new headquarters.

Amazon will consider Toronto, Columbus, Indianapolis, Chicago, Denver, Nashville, Los Angeles, Dallas, Austin, Boston, New York City, Newark, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Washington, D.C., Raleigh, Northern Virginia, Atlanta and Miami. Those cities beat 218 others for their finalist spots. The second headquarters will bring more than $5 billion in construction investment and more than 50,000 jobs to its eventual home city, according to a statement on Amazon's website.

Leaders of Mississippi River communities want to update and upgrade their infrastructure, but said Wednesday they’ll need outside financial help.

The Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative held its annual meeting in St. Louis. About 30 mayors were there to talk about how their communities can survive natural disasters like hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The mayors also discussed strategies for attracting private investments for city improvements.

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