Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fortunate Rankings

Fortunate Rankings

How much does it matter how many Fortune 500 companies, or other similar rankings, are located in your city? Does it matter if the number goes up or down?

I have to say, the Google Maps applications on the CNNMoney website where Fortune magazine is hosted, are pretty cool.

I'm not sure how to link directly to the map, but you can zoom in yourself and see just where these companies are located. Granted, size is not everything; some of the best companies are, in fact, small businesses.

Regardless, the number of major companies headquartered in a community does impact the national reputation, the self-image, and most definitely, the scope of philanthropy.

In these days of multi-headquarters companies, constant mergers and acquisitions, and frequent threats of relocation both of corporate headquarters and of day-to-day operations, any listing and mapping effort like the Fortune 500 will inevitably be outdated the next day.

While I respect the work and mission of the RCGA, they do something slightly -- if unintentionally -- deceptive on their website.

On the "Business Snapshot" page you'll find this link:

"Greater St. Louis is home to 20 Fortune 1000 companies, nine of which are in the Fortune 500. It's also home to some of the country's largest privately held corporations."

However, clicking on that link leads you to the page "Major Employers." In the first section -- more than 10,000 employees -- zero of those entities are Fortune 1000 firms based in St. Louis.

  • BJC Healthcare -- That's a nonprofit organization; a very large one, yes, but exempt from many taxes (not necessarily all)

  • Boeing Integrated Defense Systems -- Divisional HQ yes, but Corporate is based in Chicago

  • Schnuck Markets Inc. -- They are privately held, most stock is held by the family members

  • Scott Air Force Base -- A growing operation to be sure, with numerous military commands vital to national defense and the war efforts, but a tax-exempt government installation

  • SSM Healthcare -- Another large nonprofit

  • United States Postal Service -- A quasi-governmental, largely tax-exempt corporation

  • Wal-Mart Stores Inc. -- Of course, they're #1 on the Fortune 500, but their HQ is in Arkansas

  • Washington University in St. Louis -- Yet another large nonprofit

  • In the 5,000 to 10,000 employees range, we finally start to find some Fortune 500 & 1000 locally-based firms. Indeed, RCGA does have a separate page that lists them in descending order. But in keeping with my city focus, I'll list them in order of location.

    Fortune 500 HQs in downtown St. Louis:
    Ameren (#339)
    Peabody Energy (#431)

    Fortune 500 HQs elsewhere in the City of St. Louis:
    Anheuser-Busch Companies (#146 -- 2nd highest in STL, and the only one in South City!)

    Fortune 500 HQs in North St. Louis County:
    Emerson (#115 -- the highest ranking of any STL firm; I have to give them credit for keeping their corporate HQ here, in the same location on West Florissant Ave on the Jennings/Ferguson border, for nearly 60 years now)

    Express Scripts (#132 -- they too deserve some credit for relocating from the Riverport area to the new research park at UMSL, a sign of potential for that area, even if the site plan is a huge missed opportunity for transit-oriented development)

    Fortune 500 HQs in Clayton and points west:
    Smurfit-Stone Container (#303 -- not on the map because of dual HQs; located in Creve Coeur)
    Monsanto (#323 -- also Creve Coeur)
    Charter Communications (#409 -- Des Peres area)
    Graybar Electric (#450 -- the only one in Clayton, surprisingly enough)

    Fortune rankings 501 to 1000, based in the City of St. Louis:
    Laclede Group (#860 -- Downtown; holding company for Laclede Gas)
    Ralcorp Holdings (#905 -- Downtown; makes cereals under Ralston name; not to be confused with NestlePurina Pet Care, the division HQ for pet food, cat litter, etc. still located at the former Ralston Purina HQ on Checkerboard Square)
    Sigma-Aldrich (#924 -- based in Midtown at Spruce and Ewing, a surprisingly inconspicuous HQ location)

    Fortune rankings 501 to 1000, based in St. Louis County:
    Olin Corporation (#625 -- Clayton; with the sale of their metals unit, ranking might change)
    Energizer Holdings, Inc. (#636 -- moved from Checkerboard Square to Hwy 40 a few years ago)
    Solutia (#659 -- also along Hwy 40 in Maryville Centre)
    Arch Coal (#744 -- little-known locally, runs many coal mines; based in Creve Coeur)
    Brown Shoe (#752 -- Clayton-based, but rumblings of relocation are in the news lately)
    Furniture Brands International (#764 -- Clayton-based, used to be International Shoe Co.)
    Centene Corporation (#792 -- coming downtown soon, but of course still in Clayton for now)
    Kellwood (#841 -- another Hwy 40 west corridor firm, the company behind many familiar clothing brands, mostly manufactured in China though)

    Tuesday, October 16, 2007

    Mississippi Ave Prediction

    Mississippi Ave Prediction

    With the closure of the Jefferson Avenue viaduct causing congestion on surrounding streets at peak-hour, and drivers to take crazy, zig-zaggy detours, I suspect that within a month of the reopening of the Mississippi Ave overpass above I-44, Lafayette Square-ians will lobby for "temporary" barricades to be placed on Mississippi immediately south of Chouteau.

    Currently, Mississippi is the only street that passes southbound continuously through the Square. Dolman and 18th are barricaded at Chouteau; Missouri provides access from Chouteau to Hickory, but is one-way northbound between Park and Hickory. While I doubt much traffic is detouring this way currently, it might increase slightly when the overpass re-opens.

    On the other hand, most suburbanites probably don't realize that route would take them straight to Gravois, only 1/2-block west of the I-55 southbound on-ramp. I guess we'll keep that quiet. Although I'm kind of getting used to taking Nebraska south across I-44 rather than Jefferson. It's just much less hectic. Too bad it doesn't go further north, say via a viaduct or grade-crossing through the rail-yards on Ewing. Not bloody likely.

    Apparently, according to a client who was in the office the other day, Theresa Avenue used to be a grade-crossing through the railyards, but the railroads closed it off some years ago.

    Monday, October 15, 2007

    Stormy Water

    Stormy Water

    Today is Blog Action Day, when bloggers around the world will discuss one topic -- the environment.

    On Friday I covered the biggest recent environmental news -- the Nobel Peace Price announcement for Al Gore and the IPCC.

    So today I want to cover a local issue, which ties into some recent stuff by Steve Patterson.

    Today's Post-Dispatch indicates that the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) is finally, after many years of discussion, planning, and examination of aerial photography and the City and County property records, going to institute a charge for stormwater runoff based on the impervious surfaces on a plot of ground. Pending final approval by the MSD Board of Trustees, this plan would go into effect March 1, 2008.

    Currently, each sewer service customer pays 24-cents monthly for stormwater service, in addition to the usage-based (in the County) or flat-rate (in the City) amount that is based on wintertime water consumption. Of course, this flat rate charge is incredibly unfair. A shopping mall or factory owner pays the same as a single-family homeowner.

    While there will no doubt be (legal) challenges to this new plan, the basic idea is to drop the 24-cent charge, as well as the various MSD property tax rates. This will certainly simply the taxation structure in St. Louis County, where a variety of sewer-treatment subdistricts were put in place over the past 50 years to cope with the extra cost of extending or upgrading sewage treatment facilities in developing suburbs. Now, customers will pay 12 cents for each 100 square feet of impervious area. By 2014, that rate will increase to 29 cents.

    I generally prefer incentives to punitive treatments for environmental concerns, but I think this is really about fairness. Yes, as the Post describes, it will impact non-profits and other governmental entities like school districts in a pretty big way at first. But for many of these organizations, capital expenditures are easier to finance than operating expenses, because they can issue bonds that don't always require a tax increase. So, when it comes time to put a new roof on a school, or resurface a parking lot -- why not try a Green Roof system or something like Grasspave? Yes, the initial costs are higher, and probably not realistic for the average homeowner. But for large organizations with large capital, physical plant, and utility costs, savings in one of those line items could more than make up for the costs.

    Maybe, just maybe, some of these school districts, and for that matter the larger churches, would consider that they don't need quite so much empty surface parking, if they actually have to pay for it in the form of higher sewer bills! And the same could be said for New Life Evangelistic Center's proposed parking area at their Missouri Renewable Energy complex at 4716 Tennessee Ave. While grass-pavement technologies may be more costly, that could be wrapped into a capital campaign for the development of the center, and would actually be attractive to prospective donors to an operation such as that.

    Friday, October 12, 2007

    Congrats to the IPCC and Al Gore

    Congrats to the IPCC and Al Gore

    Everybody knows Al Gore, but fewer people realize that while he's the public voice of the battle against global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) does the real heavy-lifting.

    When I was teaching and/or TA'ing environmental politics at WashU, and especially this past spring, I/we recommended students read the IPCC's work. Some of it is pretty technical, but if you really want the non-political, direct scientific evidence of climate change, and policy recommendations for what to do to mitigate the impacts of climate change and global warming, the IPCC is the penultimate source. While its findings have not been without criticism -- both from the global warming skeptics largely funded by certain industries, and from those who say the IPCC reports don't go far enough -- at least the IPCC has built some solid evidence of the enormity of the problem.

    I kind of hope Al Gore does not run for President again, though. I did work in a very minor role on his campaign in 2000, including interning in a tiny office at Boilermakers' Hall on S. Broadway, leafletting the WashU and UMSL campuses for his speech at UMSL the night before the Missouri primary (remember Bill Bradley was still running pretty strongly against Gore at that point) and participating in canvassing trips for Gore sponsored by Dick Gephardt's campaign office to Burlington, Fort Madison, and Keokuk, Iowa prior to and on the day of the Iowa caucuses. It was fun, but since it was an unpaid internship and I was simultaneously doing a paid internship at CDA/SLDC and taking a full course load along with being active in several student organizations, I kind of burnt out on it as the semester progressed.

    That said, I think at this point he is a more effective voice for getting Americans to understand how much impact we are having on the global ecological crisis. And though he's not perfect, he does get a lot of people (including celebrities who, like or not, do impact other people's opinions about the world) to take notice.

    But I'm glad the IPCC got the top billing on the award.

    Here's the notice from the Nobel committee.

    Tuesday, October 09, 2007

    Why Now?

    Why Now?
    I wonder...

    Who decided to close the Jefferson Avenue viaduct at the same time as the Mississippi Avenue bridge over I-44?

    Then again, one might just ask...

    Why did I choose this week to start driving to work, my ridiculously short 3.5 mile commute up Gravois/S. Tucker?

    Anyway, tonight because of congestion on S. Tucker, Truman Parkway, S. Jefferson, I zig-zagged home via S. 14th-Chouteau-Ohio-alley behind Flower Row (silly barricades...)-California-Lafayette-Nebraska.

    And I still made it in about 15 minutes! I guess I should quit complaining. Even at rush-hour, city residents have it pretty good, because we know all the alternative routes.

    Westward Expansion

    Westward Expansion

    As we await the supposedly impending doom of the New I-64 reconstruction/closure, let's consider just how many major institutions of the St. Louis community that once were located close to the Mississippi River, have relocated at least once in their history. Most have moved west, although some south and some north.

  • Washington University was originally founded as Eliot Seminary in 1853, with classes beginning in 1856 at 17th and Washington near the edge of what is today the Loft District. Of course, its current campus along the city-county line was built beginning about 1900, used as headquarters for the 1904 World's Fair, then occupied by the university by early 1905.

  • Saint Louis University started out much earlier, in 1818 near Market and 2nd Streets (on the Archgrounds today). It was called St. Louis College at first. When the Jesuits took over it moved, in 1829, to 9th and Washington. Interestingly, in 1836 the college first considered a "suburban" relocation, to property it had purchased just uphill from what is now East Grand and North Broadway (then called Bellefontaine Road) -- hence the neighborhood is called College Hill even today. SLU did not relocate at that time, but instead remained downtown until 1888, when it moved again to 221 N. Grand, the current location of its main offices, DuBourg Hall. Again, in the early 1960s there was talk of moving the campus to some property donated by the Frost family in Berkeley, MO. Instead, the property was sold to McDonnell Douglas and the proceeds used to expand the main campus eastward into the Mill Creek Valley redevelopment area, hence the entire campus today at Grand and Lindell is called the Frost Campus.

  • Maryville University started out in 1872 as a Catholic, women-only boarding school located at what was then a rural location: Meramec and Nebraska in Dutchtown. It moved to its current location near US 40/I-64 and MO 141 in Town & Country, MO in 1961. The former building became Augustinian Academy, the St. Anthony of Padua parish high school for boys, closed in 1972, burned shortly thereafter, and was demolished in 1973. The site today contains the Maryville Gardens senior apartments and post office, built about 1977-78.

  • Fontbonne University started out, also as a Catholic, women-only institution, but much later: 1923. It was located at the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet motherhouse, 6400 Minnesota, until the present campus at Big Bend and Wydown in Clayton opened in 1925.

  • Also, the sisters' girls-only Catholic high school, St. Joseph's Academy, was located at that same location roughly from its founding in a two-room log cabin in 1836, until 1925 when it also relocated to the Fontbonne campus. However, the growth of the two institutions meant the high school relocated even further west in 1954, just thirty years later, to its present location at S Lindbergh and Litzsinger Rd. in the West County suburb of Frontenac MO.

  • Another sister institution, St. Joseph's Institute for the Deaf, also has origins at that log cabin in 1837, and continued at various locations, including the Carondelet compound, until relocating to a complex at 1483 82nd Blvd. in University City in 1934. The complex was expanded in 1956 and 1967, but ultimately sold to another denomination with the Institute's relocation in 1997 to the extensively renovated former Kangaroo shoe office/warehouse complex at 1809 Clarkson Road in Chesterfield. Although I must have missed something on this one, because the 1997 Post-Dispatch article on the move describes it as the school's"eighth [location] during its 160-year history." The school's website is surprisingly missing most of that history.

  • OK, so this posting is incredibly Catholic-centric; I'll try to cover other religious and secular institutions' past locations and their dates of moving out west in future posts.

    Monday, October 08, 2007

    The Holiday That Isn't

    The Holiday That Isn't

    Today is Columbus Day, one of the most controversial and inconsistently-observed holidays in the United States.

    The Federal Government does observe Columbus Day. Missouri State Government offices do observe Columbus Day, as does the State of Illinois. Most banks are closed as well.

    However, the University of Missouri does not. Nor does St. Louis City (PDF) government, although of course we did have a Columbus Day parade on The Hill yesterday. Nor does Washington University observe Columbus Day. Indeed, the WashU PR department website today features an article strongly critical of the holiday.

    I think there's some irony in the fact that controversial Columbus Day was moved to the 2nd Monday in October on the Federal holidays calendar in 1971, the same year Martin Luther King Day became a holiday in the City of St. Louis -- a good 15 years earlier than the Federal holiday was designated.

    This is the 70th anniversary of Federal designation of Columbus Day, and the 100th anniversary of its first official celebration, in Colorado. Protestors attended the parade in Denver this year to mark their desire to call the day Indigenous Peoples Day.

    I cannot really complain about not getting Columbus Day off as an MU employee. After all, I still get four personal days and seventeen vacation days each year -- a pretty good deal for any employer. But it is kind of odd that, across the street, all the courts are closed, and at City Hall, while most offices are open, the vehicle and drivers license offices are closed, as they are operated by the Collector of Revenue (not by the License Collector, as you might expect) under a State contract. Also, traffic coming into downtown was unusually light at 7:30 this morning.

    Friday, October 05, 2007



    This was a big week for me in terms of networking events. Some are more interesting than others, but you just never know what kind of leads you're going to get.

    Monday began the week on a sombre note, with the visitation for a colleague's husband who died in a motorcycle accident in East Saint Louis.

    Things picked up on Tuesday with the St. Louis Business Expo at the St. Charles Convention Center. Yes, I drove out there; I had a load of stuff for our exhibits and "Contacts for Contracts" seminars to haul. Speakers from a variety of Federal agencies, the State of Missouri, and two major local prime contractors (Boeing Integrated Defense Systems and DRS Sustainment Systems) provided great information on how to do business with the government.

    Thursday was pretty full, with the monthly St. Louis Small Business Networking Breakfast at the Heritage House Apartments (2800 Olive St.) early in the morning, bookended by the Matt Lassiter talk just around the corner at Harris-Stowe State University's intimate Emerson Auditorium in the evening.

    And today, Friday, I made it over to the Renaissance Grand Hotel Ballroom for the Mayor's Business Celebration Luncheon.

    Each event has a different kind of focus and audience; the Biz Expo includes all kinds of small business people and (perhaps even moreso), folks trying to sell products and services to small businesses, but with the Contacts for Contracts angle you get a lot of government contracting specialists whose orientation is toward helping the small businesses try to succeed. At the breakfasts, you get a variety of small businesses plus, again, some service-providers, not to mention the new small business reporter for the Post-Dispatch.

    The evening reception for Matt Lassiter, whose book The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt South is pretty popular in social science circles these days, attracted a different crowd. There were numerous Harris-Stowe, SLU and UMSL profs, plenty of starving students (undergrad and grad alike) from the sponsoring schools, plus faculty from SIU-E and Webster, also sponsors; and Chris Chadwick of FOCUS St. Louis, yet another sponsor of the talk.

    This was the first event of this type for the St. Louis Metropolitan Research Exchange, a loose affiliation of academic researchers interested in St. Louis, which is led by Todd Swanstrom from SLU, Terry Jones from UMSL, and Mark Abbott from Harris-Stowe, with participation from other departments at those schools as well as SIU-E and Webster. (WashU faculty are not currently represented in the group, owing to the passing of the late architecture prof Jackie Tatom.) In any case, the talk was well-attended and suggests good things for the future of this consortium of academics.

    Then, there's today's big luncheon at the convention hotel. This annual event has grown and grown, so that almost every major player in the local development community is represented, from small businesses to big developers, along with the politicians and economic development professionals (which I guess is where I fit). St. Louis Business Journal publisher Ellen Sherberg ran a tight ship, keeping things close to on-schedule. While I sometimes question whether these feel-good sort of events are really a good use of time, they do provide an opportunity to make or renew contact with a lot of people in a short time. Also, I did learn about a number of businesses and developers, large and small, who were receiving awards but were not previously familiar to me.

    Anyway, it's been quite a full week!