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Poll: How Will Macy’s Closing Their Downtown Location Affect Downtown St. Louis In The Long-Term?

Macy's in the Railway Exchange building
Macy’s is located on 3 floors of the Railway Exchange building

You likely heard the news last week about the Macy’s store downtown:

Retailer Macy’s will close its downtown St. Louis in the Railway Exchange Center later this summer.

A final closing sale will begin June 2 and last 10 weeks. (KSDK)

Immediately following the announcement people were upset, but clearly not enough to keep the store open. The poll this week asks: How will Macy’s closing their downtown location affect downtown St. Louis in the long-term? The provided answers are:

  • Very negatively
  • Negatively
  • Neutral
  • Positively
  • Very positively
  • Unsure/no answer

These answers will be presented in random order in the poll (right sidebar) so the order doesn’t influence the results. You the comments below to share your thoughts.

— Steve Patterson


Press Release: More Strikes Hit St. Louis’ Largest Fast Food Chains

The following is from a press release:


Inspired by New York City and Chicago Fast Food Walkouts, St. Louis Workers Strike Major National Chains

First-ever St. Louis Fast Food Walkout; STL Can’t Survive on $7.35 Campaign Launches Calling For $15 and the Right to Form a Union without Retaliation; Aims to Get St. Louis’ Economy Moving Again

ST. LOUIS— Workers walked off their jobs at Jimmy John’s and McDonald’s Wednesday in the first-ever fast-food strike to hit St. Louis and more 100 workers are expected to join them today. In their one-day strikes of major national brands like McDonald’s, Jimmy Johns, Domino’s, Hardees and Wendy’s are on strike, the employees are calling for wages that support their families and the right to form a union without retaliation.

The workers’ campaign, STL Can’t Survive On $7.35, seeks to put money back in the pockets of the 36,000 men and women who work hard in the city’s fast food restaurants, but still can’t afford basic necessities like food, clothing, and rent. The Self-Sufficiency Standard for an adult with one child living in St. Louis County is $14.84 per hour working full time. If workers were paid more, they’d spend more, helping to get St. Louis’ economy moving again.

“There are days I wonder, ‘how am I going to get home’ because I can’t afford my bus fare,” said Patrick Leeper, who has worked at Chipotle for more than three years, “Sometimes I walk for more than an hour just to save my train fare so I can spend it on Ramen noodles. I can’t even think about groceries.”

Fast food workers bring $1 billion a year into the cash registers of St. Louis, yet most of these workers earn Missouri’s minimum wage of $7.35, or just above it, and are forced to rely on public assistance programs to provide for their families and get healthcare for their children. They’re coming together for $15 per hour and the right to form a union so they can support their families, and put money back into the economy.

“I’ve been at Jack in the Box for four years, cleaning and prepping food and all I get paid is $7.55 without any benefits,” said Anita Gregory, a mother of one, who is expecting her second child in the next few weeks. “I’m tired of having to struggle to survive while working so hard.”

It would take a typical St. Louis fast food worker minimum-wage full-time worker more than 1,300 years to earn as much as the CEO of YUM! Brands, which owns Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, made in 2012.

The two days of strikes here in St. Louis come just weeks after hundreds of fast food and retail workers went on strike in Chicago and hundreds more walked off their jobs in New York City. The strikes by low-wage workers began on Black Friday back in November, with hundreds of Walmart workers walking off their jobs. It spread weeks later to fast food, with workers embarking on the first-ever strike to hit the industry.

Low-wage jobs have accounted for the bulk of new jobs added in the recovery, and fast food positions are among the fastest-growing in St. Louis. Workers here, like those around the country, are increasingly joining together to fight for higher wages that will lift the economy.

“Workers in fast-food jobs are no longer freckle-faced teenagers looking for some summer pocket change,” said the Rev. Martin Rafanan, director of STL $7.35. “Increasingly, fast food jobs are the only options for St. Louisans, but these workers can’t even afford to pay for rent, food and bus fare. If the workers earned more, fast food workers would spend that money at local businesses here in St. Louis and help lift our economy.”

Founded in February of 2013, the St. Louis Organizing Committee is an independent union of fast food workers. The workers’ STL Can’t Survive on $7.35 campaign seeks a $15 an hour wage and the right to form a union without retaliation. The STL Can’t Survive on $7.35 campaign is supported by a coalition of dozens of community, labor and faith-based groups including: ACTION; Adorers of the Blood of Christ; St. Louis AFL-CIO; AFSCME Illinois Council 31; Aquinas Institute; ARAW/Jobs with Justice National; Ascension Episcopal; Bethel Lutheran; Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, St Louis, Central Reform Congregation; Central Reform Congregation; Eastern District Laborer Council 110; Eden Seminary; Epiphany UCC; Episcopal Diocese; Families USA; Gethsemane Lutheran Church; Jobs with Justice Workers’ Right Board; Kirkwood UCC; Missouri Jobs with Justice; MO Health Care For All; MORE; National Nurses United; New Life Evangelistic Center; Parkway United Church of Christ; People’s World; Personal UFCW655; Presbyterian Church USA; PROMO; ProVote; SEIU Health Care; SEIU Local 1; St John’s Catholic Church; St John’s Episcopal; St Joseph’s Catholic Church; St Margaret of Scotland; St Mark Lutheran; St Peter’s United Church of Christ; St. Pius; St Thomas United Church of Christ; Teamsters 688;The Bridge at Newtown; United Church of Christ in Afton; United Food and Commercial Workers 655; United Food and Commercial Workers 88; Wayman African Methodist Episcopal Church; Westminster Presbyterian; Westside Baptist; Young Activists United


National Microbusiness Conference in St. Louis May 5-8

St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green hosted the kickoff event for the 2013 AEO national conference
St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green hosted the kickoff event for the 2013 AEO national conference

Microbusinesses, those with 5 or fewer employees, are an important part of the St. Louis economy. These businesses, though individually small, collectively employee much of our region.

St. Louis beat out a couple of other cities to host a national conference on microbusinesses, it starts Sunday:

Welcome to the Association for Enterprise Opportunity’s 2013 National Conference, the nation’s largest premier microbusiness event.

This year’s conference promises to be the best and most comprehensive ever. Join us as we engage senior executives, investors, bankers, practitioners, policy makers and Administration Officials in dialogue about positioning microbusinesses to create jobs and help grow America’s economy.

AEO’s power-packed program will combine large plenary style talks with small, interactive workshops to help attendees learn how to seek out new sources of capital, understand new products and services delivery models and adopt best practices that will enable long-term sustainability.

The conference will be held May 5-8 at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri as we ignite the power of microbusiness to change our communities! (Enterprise Opportunity 2013 Conference

I talked with Enterprise Opportunity’s President & CEO, Connie Evans, at the conference kickoff earlier this week, see her respond to me here.

The public is invited to attend the free marketplace of local microbusiness event Monday May 6, 2013 from 4:30pm-7pm. Chase Park Plaza (easily reached via the #10 & #95 MetroBus routes).

— Steve Patterson


Readers Overwhelmingly Opposed To Proposed Utility Surcharge

Click image for group opposed to the surcharge bills.

Readers very clearly oppose bills in the Missouri senate & house that would permit a utility surcharge, read specifics in the prior post. Here are the results of the poll:

Q: Support or oppose proposed electric utility infrastructure surcharge?

  1. Oppose 48 [77.42%]
  2. Support 10 [16.13%]
  3. Unsure/no opinion 3 [4.84%]
  4. Other: 1 [1.61%] – “support only if used for utility network, not plants”

You can lookup your Missouri state legislators here to let them know how you feel.

– Steve Patterson



Chronicle Coffee Now Open, Grand Opening Soon

Last July I posted about a New Coffeehouse Opening Soon on Page Blvd Just East of Grand Ave. It took a white while to open but last month it finally did. A few days ago I met someone there and returned for lunch.  The concept is simple, a nice neighborhood coffeehouse that hires employees from the area.

ABOVE: Chronicle Coffee is located in the corner of a building that also houses the St. Louis Public Housing Authority and a PNG Bank branch.  Click for Google Maps.
ABOVE: Chronicle Coffee is located in the corner of a building that also houses the St. Louis Public Housing Authority and a PNG Bank branch. Click for Google Maps.

But how do you make such an enterprise financially viable? During my visit I was able to chat with the owner, turns out the answer is through acquisition!

Rick Milton, owner of Northwest Coffee Roasting Co., has sold his company to Jason Wilson, the owner of Chronicle Coffee. Chronicle is located just north of Grand Center at 1235 Blumeyer Ave. The sale, completed in December, includes both the Northwest Coffee roasting operation as well as Northwest Coffee cafes in Clayton and the Central West End. (Sauce Magazine)

By buying the well established Northwest Coffee Wilson has quality coffee for Chronicle and a good place to train new employees.

ABOVE: Owner Jason Wilson sat down with us to talk about Chronicle, Northwest and creating jobs in a community in need of work.
ABOVE: Owner Jason Wilson sat down with us to talk about Chronicle, Northwest, and creating jobs in a community in need of more employment opportunities.
ABOVE: Tables & chairs will arrive next month
ABOVE: Tables & chairs will arrive next month

One wall of Chronicle Coffee includes enlarged black & white prints of the former Blumeyer public housing project that once  occupied the immediate area.I know I’ll return when I’m nearby. Wilson is finalizing plans for their grand opening later this month.

— Steve Patterson




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