Kansas City, MO – With all the lousy financial news lately you might be surprised to hear that some banks are doing pretty well. In fact, amidst a global economic meltdown, one Kansas City institution, UMB, just recorded its most profitable year ever! UMB's earnings jumped up 32% just in the last three months . (you know the three months with all the layoffs and urgent bank bailouts) KCUR's Frank Morris spoke with UMB's chairman and CEO Mariner Kemper.
Kansas City, MO – Sprint's cutting 8000 jobs this winter because it's been losing hundreds of thousands of customers almost every month for years. It's still the third largest mobile phone company, though, still has lots of cash, and Micheal Nelson, an industry analyst, says it's about to launch a serious rival to the I-phone, the Palm Pre.
Kansas City, MO – Cell phone carrier Sprint Nextel will lay off some 8000 workers by the end of March.
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The current round of layoffs comes on the heels of more than 4-thousand Sprint employees losing their jobs late last year. Sprint has struggled over the past year losing customers and more than 1 billion dollars in the first three quarters. Sprint spokeswoman Laura Lisic says the job cuts are aimed at shoring up the nation's number three cell phone company.
Kansas City, MO – Demolition of the now closed Bannister Mall began Wednesday to pave the way for the site's redevelopment. An 18-thousand, 500-seat soccer stadium is planned there, which will be the permanent home of the Kansas City Wizards. KCUR's Greg Echlin has more.
Kansas City, MO – Ford's F series trucks are a staple of the Kansas City economy and one of the very few bright spots in domestic automobile manufacturing. KCUR's Frank Morris speaks with the truck's Chief Engineer about a rough year, and arguably a bright future, for making pickups.
Kansas City, MO – Fewer employers are hiring and recent college graduates face stiff competition as more people are looking for jobs. Daniel Seddiqui knows their plight well. He graduated from the University of Southern California but says he couldn't get hired because he didn't have experience. Now he's looking to change that. Seddiqui plans to work 50 jobs in 50 states over 50 weeks. This week he's in Kansas City and getting paid as a boilermaker.
Kansas City, MO – Fewer employers are hiring and recent college graduates face stiff competition as more people are looking for jobs. Daniel Seddiqui (knows their plight well. He graduated from the University of Southern California but says he couldn't get hired because he didn't have experience. Now he's looking to change that. Seddiqui plans to work 50 jobs in 50 states over 50 weeks. This week he's in Kansas City and getting paid as a boilermaker.
Seddiqui is keeping a journal of his adventures online at
Independence, MO – Despite a wintry forecast of freezing rain and dropping temperatures, shoppers continued to hurry in and out of Independence Center this week. Just inside the mall's automated doors, KCUR intern Annie Walsh met Daniel Blanton, a volunteer bell-ringer for The Salvation Army. Despite the downturn in the economy, Blanton told Annie that the iconic little red kettle has been full at the end of each of his shifts this season.
Kansas City, Missouri – Thousands of autoworkers in the Kansas City area are watching the Washington debate over the proposed bailout closely, wondering what it will mean for their jobs. The Fairfax General Motors plant in Kansas City, Kansas, is already feeling the pinch. The company has added an additional two weeks to shut-down orders which would've kept the plant closed through mid January. Now workers won't be going back until February 9th.
Kansas City, MO – The commercial baking industry is watching closely as Interstate Bakeries Corporation creeps back out of bankruptcy. It was a shock when the Lenexa-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankcruptcy four years ago. The owners of Hostess and Wonder Bread, among other familiar lines, had long been the largest commercial bakery in the United States.
Kansas City, MO – A partnership involving Kansas Speedway and the Cordish company have pulled their bid to build a state-owned casino in Wyandotte county. Kansas Entertainment announced it was withdrawing it's application for the 705 million dollar casino and entertainment complex this morning, hours before a state deadline to finalize the project. Speedway spokeswoman Kelly Hale says group wanted to change the proposal by building the casino first and hotel and retail later.
Kansas City, MO – In the wake of the current financial crisis, KCUR's Gina Kaufmann set out to understand how money is supposed to work. After a visit to the Money Museum at the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank, and an interview with an anthropologist, she came to some truly frightening conclusions.
Newton, Iowa – These days, if you've got something in your home from Iowa, it's probably in a kitchen cupboard, or in the refrigerator. But for a long time it likely was the refrigerator, or the washing machine, or the dryer. Maytag and Amana once two of the largest appliance companies on Earth, sprang from little Iowa towns. Now those communities are scrambling to deal with that industry's sharp decline, and to capitalize Iowa's emerging alternative energy business.
Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City Star publisher Mark Zieman moved from the editor's role to that of publisher earlier this year, a position that has forced him to make very difficult decisions. The Star recently laid off 50 employees in the face of decreasing advertising revenue. KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross sat down with Mr. Zieman to discuss the future of the paper and the industry at large.
Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City city council set the wheels in motion for a comprehensive shared-use trails program yesterday, and resolved to develop more consistent parking policies to minimize downtown tow-aways. But a projected budget shortfall of $60 to 80 million loomed throughout their two meetings.
Federal Reserve economist George Kahn told the council members that fourth quarter sales will likely be down, and real recovery from the recession won't begin till the second half of 2009.
Kansas City, MO – We've seen more discouraging signs in the economy this past week, but Monday, November 17th marks the start of Global Entrepreneurship Week. That's right. Some experts argue that this period of economic downturn may be a good time to start a new business - as long as you're careful. KC Currents' Susan B. Wilson sat down with the Kauffman Foundation's FastTrac program director Monica Doss to find out how it's possible.
Kansas City, MO – In an effort to find out how money is supposed to work, KCUR's Gina Kaufmann put in a call to anthropologist Bill Maurer at University of California-Irvine . Maurer specializes in the anthropology of money. While American money used to be backed by gold, Maurer explained, it is now backed by faith in the system. Which begs just one question.
Kansas City, MO – This week, international trade leaders from the United States, Mexico and Canada met in Kansas City for the annual North America Works conference. Since NAFTA took effect in 1994, some local leaders have been trying to promote Kansas City as a hub for international trade.
NAFTA has its critics from both the left and the right, and the election of Barack Obama may change the direction of the US trade policy.
Kansas City, MO – The troubled economy is driving thousands of people into food pantries for the first time ever this year. At the same time donations to those pantries are drying up and some have run out of food entirely, even here, in the nation's breadbasket. But while the economic hard times are pummeling food pantries, they're doing great things for another service catering to the poor thrift stores. KCUR's Frank Morris reports.
Kansas City, MO – City and other local governments have been put in their own credit crunch by the crisis on Wall Street. They can't find anyone to buy their municipal bonds. That's how cities normally pay for everything from sewer upgrades to a new city hall. But the market has dried up, and Kansas City, for one, has put tens of millions of dollars of water projects on hold as it waits for the municipal bond market to shake out. KCUR's Maria Carter reports.