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First-Ever Log Splitting Contest & Holiday Build Battle

in Companies/News

The most wonderful time of the year is right around the corner, and historic downtown Hillsboro is gearing up for “A Storybook Christmas,” sponsored by Imagine Hillsboro. This one-of-a-kind holiday celebration combines timeless traditions with the newest trends to create a unique experience that is guaranteed to be fun for the whole family, and this year’s event will include a couple of new elements that will deliver a series of happy endings.

Now in its fifth year, the all-day event will take place on Saturday, Dec. 7, with festivities kicking off at 10 a.m., as downtown Hillsboro will come to life with carolers strolling down Main Street. New to the celebration this year, local manufacturer Atlas 46 is teaming up with Imagine Hillsboro, the City of Hillsboro and Hardcore Hammers to spread extra holiday cheer by hosting the first-ever Log Splitting Contest and Holiday Build Battle.

“A Storybook Christmas offers something for everyone – whether you’re ready to lace up your shoes for the Frosty 5K, hunt for clues during a festive scavenger hunt, discover quirky shopping opportunities or nosh on traditional holiday foods. Imagine Hillsboro and all of the volunteers work tirelessly to put together this festive celebration, making our city a different and lovely place to live and work,” said Jonathan Weyer, Community Planner for the City of Hillsboro. “We’re thrilled to partner with Atlas 46 to introduce a different sort of experience to this marvelous community event, and we’re hoping that everyone who joins us will have a merry little Storybook Christmas.”

Participants in the Log Splitting Contest will put their wood chopping skills to the test to determine who will be named the ultimate “Hardcore Splitter.” During the preliminary rounds, competitors will be given a Hardcore Hammers axe to use – a choice of a 4lb Ranger Axe or a 3lb Raptor Axe – to split various sized logs into 6″ pieces, then stack them faster than the competition to be on their way to claiming the $1,000 grand prize. The fastest participant in each preliminary round to split and stack 20 logs will advance to the finals, where they will be required to chop and stack an 18” log. In the holiday spirit of giving, the chopped firewood will be donated to local organizations in need through a collaboration with Lifeline Community Church and the City of Hillsboro. A special thanks also goes out to Bob Buda and the church for their time and effort in donating the trees and cutting them for the contest.

All participants must be 18 years or older and pay a $25 entry fee to be eligible to compete. Safety gear including glasses, steel toed boots or safety toe covers will be required. Area residents are invited to come out and cheer on their favorite team during the log splitting event, which will take place at 10 a.m.  outside of the Bank of Hillsboro. Free axe sharpening will be offered at the event, and other Hardcore Hammer items will also be available for purchase. Pre-registration is required to participate in the Log Splitting Contest, and the deadline to register is Dec. 1st. Participants can sign up in person at the Atlas 46 facility in Hillsboro, online at or on the events page at

The fun doesn’t stop there, as later in the afternoon, pre-selected teams will battle head to head to design and build the best holiday decoration during Atlas 46’s inaugural Holiday Build Battle. To be considered for this battle, interested teams will need to create a short video detailing why they should be given a chance to compete or fill out an application at the Atlas 46 facility in Hillsboro. A panel of judges will select the top three teams to participate in the Dec. 7 competition. Starting at 2 p.m., teams will have three hours to handcraft their holiday decorations using only the materials provided. Wood to be used during the competition will be supplied by England Farms in Fillmore, Ill., who also donated wood for the Monster Building Competition. The winner of this tinsel and tools throwdown will take home the grand prize of $500 and automatically be qualified for the chance to win even more prize money during the season finale of the Build Battles next fall. Details on how to participate can be found at

“We couldn’t be more excited to be a part of one of Hillsboro’s most cherished events and offer these fun, creative contests to put a unique twist on traditional holiday celebrations,” said Brian Carver, President of Atlas 46, which opened a manufacturing facility in Hillsboro in 2018. “We’re extremely proud to put on events like these that bring together members of the Hillsboro community – from DIYers to skilled tradesmen and women – to shine a spotlight on the world of manufacturing and introduce a little spirited competition to the holiday season.”

Following the completion of the Holiday Build Battle, friendly faces will line the streets as the twinkling glow of lights march down Main Street in the Lighted Christmas Parade starting at 6 p.m.

For additional questions or more information on the Log Splitting Contest and Holiday Build Battle, visit the events page at For more information on A Storybook Christmas, visit Imagine Hillsboro on Facebook.

With locations in Fenton, MO and Hillsboro, IL, Atlas 46 designs, develops, and manufactures innovative, premium workwear and gear for the construction, carpentry, electrical, maintenance, off-roading, DIY, and woodworking industries. For more information, visit or find Atlas 46 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  

St. Louis Regional Freightway’s 2020 Priority Projects List Advance to Construction

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Projects to strengthen critical roads and bridges in the bi-state area, where more than 50% of all freight moves by truck 

The East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGCOG) Board of Directors last week unanimously endorsed the St. Louis Regional Freightway’s 2020 Multimodal Transportation Priority Projects List, a valuable tool used by the St. Louis Regional Freightway to advocate for support and funding for infrastructure improvements.  The St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), generated 384 million tons of freight in 20161, ranking it first among Midwest peer cities along the Mississippi River Basin and highlighting the importance of investment to modernize the region’s freight infrastructure. Representing the infrastructure needs of the manufacturing and logistics industries, the updated list for 2020 reveals that eight of the 20 projects on the list have advanced to various stages of construction. Collectively, those eight projects represent an investment of more than $830 million in the region’s freight network, with an emphasis on enhancing key bridges and interstates utilized by the trucking industry, which moves more than 200 million tons of freight through the region annually2.

“Each of the priority projects identified on the 2020 list is important at the individual level, but collectively, they are essential to the continued growth of the St. Louis region as a global freight hub,” said Jim Wild, Executive Director of East-West Gateway Council of Governments. “I salute our Board of Directors for their bi-state leadership in recognizing the benefits of having a priority list like this and uniting in support of it.”

“The Freightway’s ability to continue to build consensus around the top transportation infrastructure priorities remains a key accomplishment of the organization as it works to grow the $6 billion in goods traveling through the St. Louis area by road, rail, river and runway,” said Mike McCarthy, president of Terminal Railroad Association (TRRA) of St. Louis and Chairman of the Freight Development Committee, which compiles the priority projects list annually. “With more than 50% of all freight volume generated in the St. Louis region moving by truck, and 25% of it moving internally3 putting additional stress on our region’s roads and bridges, it’s clear the priority projects on this list truly reflect the real needs of the bi-state area.”

Among the priority projects funded and under construction are the Interstate 270 corridor improvements in north St. Louis County (MO) and Madison County (IL); where nearly $500 million is being invested; the $59 million Interstate 255/Davis Street Ferry Road Interchange in St. Clair County in Illinois, which was elevated to one of the Freightway’s highest priority projects over the winter based on the growing importance of Union Pacific’s intermodal yard and the role the new interchange would play in facilitating growth there by reducing travel times and lowering transportation costs; and the $32 million project to widen a key stretch of Interstate 64, also in St. Clair County. A combination of state and federal funding is supporting these and various other projects on the list. Meanwhile, work is also underway on the $222 million project to replace the Merchants Bridge, thanks to funding from Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis, which owns the structure.

The Freight Development Committee is a nationally recognized model of partnership and productive collaboration between the public and private sector across the eight-county area the St. Louis Regional Freightway serves, and it has driven the success in regional project prioritization. Business and industry leaders work directly with local and state officials and DOT’s to set infrastructure priorities by helping them to understand how infrastructure and efficiency impacts on-time delivery and costs.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau Economic Census, freight-based industries represent over 75% of the total economic output in the St. Louis MSA. Located at the confluence of three navigable rivers, the border between the east and west coast railroads, and with its four interstate highways and four interstate linkages, the St. Louis region’s central location and robust infrastructure afford many advantages for shippers and contribute to the region being one of the largest inland freight hubs in the nation. The 384 million tons of freight generated in the St. Louis MSA in 2016 exceeded the tonnage generated in peer cities such as Minneapolis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Indianapolis and Columbus.

“Our leadership position in the freight industry further underscores the importance of maintaining and enhancing our freight network,” said Mary Lamie, Executive Vice President of Multi Modal Enterprises at Bi-State Development, which oversees the St. Louis Regional Freightway as one its enterprises. “We greatly value the East-West Gateway Council of Government’s unanimous endorsement of what we have identified as the region’s current infrastructure improvement priorities, because that regional support is helping to ensure these priority projects do move forward. We will continue to use this valuable tool as we advocate for the funding necessary to advance other projects on the list in the months ahead.”

The updated list groups the projects into three categories, based on where they are in the planning, funding and construction cycle. Following is a summary of the 2020 priority projects, with the St. Louis Regional Freightway’s highest priorities underlined. More details on each of these projects and the various parties involved in compiling the 2020 Priority Projects list can be found at

Advanced to Construction (Funded)

  • Merchants Bridge (TRRA) Replacement over the Mississippi River (MO-IL). ($222M) Funded by TRRA in summer 2018. Replacement of Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis’ 130-year old rail bridge.
  • I-270 Improvements from I-70 (MO) to Illinois Route 157 (MO-IL). Funded spring 2018.
  • Improvements to portions of I-270 in Missouri ($250M)
  • Chain of Rocks Bridge Replacement ($211.6M)
  • I-270/Illinois Route 111 Interchange Reconstruction (IL) ($19M)
  • I-255/Davis Street Ferry Road Interchange (IL) ($59M) Funded in 2019.
    • New interchange and connecting roadways to serve emerging industrial area near Union Pacific Dupo Intermodal Yard, including future grade separation over five rail tracks.
  • I-64 Improvements from Green Mount Rd to IL 158/Air Mobility Dr (IL) ($32M) Funded in summer of 2019.  Expansion of I-64 to six lanes as well as other safety and capacity improvements.
  • J.S. McDonnell Connector Ave. Improvements (MO) ($20.7M) Construction funding approved in 2019. Roadway improvements to enhance truck traffic movements and replace deteriorated rail crossing.
  • Union Pacific Railroad Lenox Tower Replacement (IL) ($9M) Funded in spring 2018 and spring 2019.
    • Remove Lenox Rail Tower in Mitchell, Illinois in order to centralize dispatching in Omaha, Nebraska.
  • North Park Access Improvements (MO) ($3M) Funded in 2018.
    • Safety and capacity improvements along Hanley Road from I-70 to Madison Avenue.
  • Earth City Access Improvements (MO) $4M – Construction work is nearing completion on two projects:
  • Charles Rock Road preservation of 1.3-mile corridor and arterial roadway pavement repairs in Earth City.

Partially Programmed for Construction

  • I-270 Widening from I-70 (MO) to Illinois Route 157 (MO-IL) ($1.2B)

This project is partially funded and portions that are funded are identified above.

  • North Riverfront Commerce Corridor Improvements (MO) ($33.9M)

Continuing project will build on work completed to relocate the I-70 westbound off-ramp to North Broadway by making additional improvements to Hall Street and Riverview Drive, as well as Branch Street.

  • Illinois Route 3 Access Improvements (IL) (Estimated $147-$192M; Unfunded $135 – $180M)

(A) Illinois Route 3 relocation from River Park Drive to Monsanto Avenue

  1. B) Falling Springs Road/Illinois Route 3 railroad bypass (Partially Funded)
  • America’s Central Port Improvements (IL) (Estimated cost $22.5M; Unfunded $12.5M)

(A) Granite City Harbor track revitalization

(B) Granite City Harbor general cargo dock revitalization (Funded)

(C) Union Pacific/Kansas City Southern connection through A&K yard

(D) New port entrance at IL-3 (Funded)

  • Louis Lambert International Airport North Cargo Improvements (MO) ($18.2M)

Although Taxiway V Connector was completed, North Cargo improvements include reconstructing both Banshee Road and the McDonnell Boulevard/Airport Road intersection 

Concept Development or Planning

  • I-70 Improvements from Warrenton to Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge (MO) ($650M)

(A) Improvements from Wentzville to Stan Musial Memorial Bridge (40 miles)

(B) Expansion to six lanes from Wentzville to Warrenton (20 miles)

  • MidAmerica St. Louis Airport Distribution Improvements (IL) ($45M)

New two-mile rail spur from Norfolk Southern mainline to enable freight rail access for industry on the eastern side of airport

  • Louis Lambert International Airport Access Improvements (MO) ($30.25M)

(A) Cargo City access analysis

(B) Fee Fee Road bridge improvement

(C) Gist Road upgrade

  • Illinois Route 158 (Air Mobility Drive) Expansion from Route 161 to Route 177 (IL) ($20M)

One-mile extension of two lanes along a growth corridor near I-64 and MidAmerica St. Louis Airport

  • Kaskaskia Regional Port District Improvements (IL) ($11.2M)

(A) Terminal #1 second rail loop track and lead track rail upgrades

(B) Terminal #2 second entrance and third dock

(C) Port Development at Fayetteville

  • I-255/Fish Lake (Ramsey Road) Interchange (IL) ($27M)

New interchange to provide additional access to the Union Pacific Dupo Intermodal Yard

  • Mississippi River Port Development Projects (MO) ($17.5M)

(A) Crystal City Port development with access roadway

(B) City of St. Louis south riverfront site

(C) St. Louis County Port development north/south sites

Note:   On October 21, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced the Illinois Department of Transportation’s annual Multi-Year Improvement Program, containing $239.5 million in additional funding for several other projects on this Priority List, including:

  • $20M for I-270 to add a lane from Mississippi River to the Chain of Rocks Canal
  • $64.5M for I-270 from .4 mile E of IL 3 to .5 miles W of IL 203 for additional lanes and bridge superstructure
  • $15M for IL-111 at Chain of Rock intersection
  • $115M for Relocated IL Route 3 from .1 mil south of River Park Connector to Monsanto Ave. in Sauget
  • $5M for IL Route 3 South for a bridge over the Alton & Southern Railroad tracks in Sauget.
  • $20M for IL Route 158 (Air Mobility Drive) expansion from Route 161 to Route 177 (IL)

Project funding from this announcement will be reflected in the 2021 Multimodal Project list. 

About St. Louis Regional Freightway

The St. Louis Regional Freightway is a Bi-State Development enterprise formed to create a regional freight district and comprehensive authority for freight operations and opportunities within eight counties in Illinois and Missouri which comprise the St. Louis metropolitan area. Public sector and private industry businesses are partnering with the St. Louis Regional Freightway to establish the bi-state region as one of the premier multimodal freight hubs and distribution centers in the United States through marketing, public advocacy, and freight and infrastructure development. To learn more, visit 

  • United States Department of Transportation Freight Analysis Framework (FAF4), 2016.
  • United States Department of Transportation Freight Analysis Framework (FAF4), 2016.
  • United States Department of Transportation Freight Analysis Framework (FAF4), 2016.

M Property Services to Bring Much Needed Hospital, Healthworks Village to NorthSide Regeneration Development

in Associations/News

St. Louis City Mayor Lyda Krewson signed legislation last week approving up to $8 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) assistance for a new hospital in the city’s most impoverished neighborhood of North St. Louis City. M Property Services (MPS), led by Chairman and CEO Paul McKee, Jr., partnered with medical entrepreneur Dr. David Lenihan, President and CEO of Ponce Health Sciences University (PHSU), to bring his vision for minority-focused healthcare, which includes 92 new jobs, to North St. Louis as part of the NorthSide Regeneration development.

St. Louis City Alderwoman Tammika Hubbard (D-Ward 5) introduced legislation for the TIF assistance, which the St. Louis City Board of Aldermen passed with a 23-2 vote on Oct. 18, supporting the proposed three-bed hospital with emergency room at Jefferson and Cass Avenues, plus infrastructure improvements to the surrounding area. The project has a projected total cost of about $22 million.

The approved bill also provides that the developers must prove by the end of 2021 that they have financing for a larger, second phase of the project in order to qualify for all of the TIF assistance. This second phase is presently anticipated to include construction of a $73 million, 103,000-square-foot hospital, to be named Homer G. Phillips Hospital, and medical school. TIF financing works by allowing a developer over time to recover costs it has previously expended in completing public infrastructure and other qualified improvements, by accessing a portion of the increased real property and economic activity taxes generated in the future by the new development.

“It’s been a long road, but we definitely need a hospital in North St. Louis – an area that has high rates of hypertension, the most Medicaid recipients within the entire city, lowest life expectancy, and highest infant mortality rate. On a bigger level, this will be the only hospital in North St. Louis,” said Hubbard. “This will be more than just the three-bedroom urgent care hospital; it has a phase two connected to it, which will be a healthcare village that will offer so many needs and services to people who have lived in an impoverished community in excess of 60 years because the city has failed them and not given them the resources to live in a viable, workable community with access to healthcare. This issue has been one that has been near and dear to my heart; it has been definitely near and dear to my constituents because they are the ones who have been suffering.”

The proposed Homer G. Phillips hospital, named after the only hospital for African Americans in St. Louis from 1937 to 1955 when the city still had segregated facilities, would be constructed on the former site of defunct urban housing project Pruitt-Igoe. The site is part of the 1,500-acre NorthSide Regeneration redevelopment area in North St. Louis.

“I thought it was important to the revitalization of North St. Louis City that a hospital be brought back to the community. In working with Dr. Lenihan, we were able to develop a plan that addressed the residents’ needs and desires for local healthcare that has been lacking in the community for decades. We commend Alderwoman Hubbard for her tireless efforts to help make the hospital a reality for her constituents and the forgotten residents of North St. Louis,” said McKee.

United Bank of Union, Sterling Bank and the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council will provide a combined $8 million in loans to get the hospital project underway.

“We are proud to provide financing to the new Homer G. Phillips Hospital to bring a much-needed healthcare facility to the North Side,” said Al Bond, Executive-Secretary Treasurer of the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council. “We invest in projects that benefit our community, and we believe this facility will achieve that.”

Global architecture, engineering and planning firm HOK has been contracted to design the hospital. KAI will provide design/build services to complete the project.

M Property Services, LLC (MPS) is a full-service real estate development, property management and brokerage firm based in O’Fallon, MO. For more information about M Property Services, visit or call 636-561-9300

National Month of Veterans & Military Families Job Fair

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November is the National Month of Veterans and Military Families and DAV / RecruitMilitary are proud to host the St. Louis Veterans Job Fair on Thursday, November 21st from 11am to 3pm at Chaifetz Arena at St. Louis University. This free event for veterans, military spouses, transitioning military, National Guard members and Reservists features 40+ employers ready to hire.

In addition to providing career opportunities for veterans, RecruitMilitary is also focusing efforts on the more than 600,000 military spouses in the United States who are unemployed and/or underemployed in their professional careers. The company is actively working to help address the exorbitantly high unemployment rate of military spouses – nearly 25% – a rate more than six times the national average. This is the highest unemployment rate of any singular group in the U.S.  Through its partnership with Google, a new job search tool is now available to assist military spouse and military trained talent to explore 8,000 remote work options in the RecruitMilitary database of more than 250,000 jobs. With more than 140 veteran and military spouse job fairs this year, RecruitMilitary offers veterans and military spouses the most opportunities of any organization to help facilitate their future career goals.

RecruitMilitary’s Event Director, Jennifer Hadac who is also a US Navy Veteran, is available to discuss the hiring event and how we’re helping St. Louis veterans, transitioning military and military spouses find meaningful career opportunities.

Recession Likely Still More than 3 Years Away, Commerce Trust Co. Economist Says

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Scott Colbert


Although U.S. economic growth is slowing after more than 42 quarters of expansion, the start of a recession is still not likely to occur until early 2023, according to Scott Colbert, executive VP, chief economist and director of fixed asset management for Commerce Trust Company.

That being said, uncertainty remains in the air relative to America’s trade war with China and a presidential election less than one year away, he added.

“The trade war with China won’t likely push the U.S. into recession,” said Colbert at Commerce’s 2020 Economic Forecast and Financial Market Update in Clayton on Nov. 6. “Economic recovery has been so slow and gradual that we haven’t created the ‘heat’ of high inflation to push the Fed to hit the brakes and raise interest rates. Once leading economic indicators recover, as they did in March 2017, the economy statistically has six years until the next recession.”

After the Fed followed through on three of four predicted interest rate cuts in 2019, the fourth will likely not materialize until March 2020, Colbert said.

“To have a recession, two things really have to happen,” he said. “One, an anxiety shock such as the Arab-Israeli (oil) War in 1973, the Gulf War in 1990, the dot-com bubble burst in 2000 and the 2008 housing crisis. Two, a Fed that’s braking to control inflation…right now, the Fed is doing the opposite by cutting interest rates to extend the economic recovery.”

For more information visit:

Electrical Connection Members Honored at AGC Keystone Awards

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Two Electrical Connection-member contractors earned awards at the annual Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Missouri Keystone Awards.  PayneCrest Electric, Inc. was saluted for construction excellence in the delivery of its Monsanto/Bayer Greenhouses project.  PayneCrest was also honored for its work on the Ameren Labadie Fly Ash facility, which was an award finalist.  Meanwhile, Aschinger Electric Co. earned a Specialty Contractor of the Year (SCOTY) Award in the electrical category.  In addition, Guarantee Electrical Co. was honored as a finalist for its work on The Last Hotel in downtown St. Louis and the Ameren Wastewater Treatment Process facility.

All three contractors are members of the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractor Association (NECA) which partners with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 to form the Electrical Connection.

Since 1997, when the AGC Keystone Awards competition was launched, more than 100 NECA contractor projects have been honored in the awards program, 32 of which earned AGC Keystone Awards.  According to the AGC, “the awards are a glowing recognition of construction professionals whose skill, teamwork and spirit of innovation make a lasting contribution to a community by building facilities that support and enhance the quality of life. Safety performance, use of technology or new innovations, and workforce diversity are also essential components of overall performance.”

In awarding PayneCrest its Keystone Award for the Monsanto/Bayer Greenhouses, the program noted that “PayneCrest overcame extraordinary complexities in remodeling 26 greenhouses as Monsanto transitioned to new ownership under Bayer. Each greenhouse required intense specialized infrastructure within its extremely limited space with a strict mandate to avoid shading plants with electrical systems. PayneCrest created, tested and refined mockups to guide pre-fabrication and installation with extraordinary precision, delivering on all expectations.”

Program notes for the other honored Electrical Connection-member projects included:

  • PayneCrest’s Ameren Labadie Fly Ash – “New EPA regulations eliminating fly ash ponds compelled Ameren to tap PayneCrest’s design/build skills for solutions to treat and dispose of the Labadie Power Plant fly ash. PayneCrest’s detective work revealed unknown aging infrastructure and integrated it with new electrical systems. It deftly managed work in tight spaces to power new EPA-compliant silo storage facilities to treat the fly ash.”
  • Guarantee’s Last Hotel – “Historic renovation is always tricky, when it involves digging through layers of history in a city like St. Louis. Leveraging the historic International Shoe factory building’s Art Deco elegance into the contemporary destination of The Last Hotel, led Guarantee’s project team through a century’s worth of urban archaeology, a wilderness of unmapped utilities between buildings, below streets, below the basement.”
  • Guarantee’s Ameren Wastewater Treatment Process project – “Among the challenges of the project were the uncertainties created by the innovative nature of the technology involved, which drove a relentless effort to adapt and test equipment to better calibrate performance. Working closely with Ameren’s design team and engineers, Guarantee’s installers were involved from design through commissioning, testing and adjusting sensors and equipment over the course of the project.”

“The successful and innovative delivery of these complex projects reflects the

proficiencies of our Electrical Connection NECA contractors and the skills and safety of our IBEW workforce,” noted Jim Curran, executive director, Electrical Connection.  “As we work with civic and business leadership in Missouri, we can confidently provide countless examples of IBEW/NECA’s readiness to efficiently and creatively deliver the next generation of electrical and communications projects.”

Winners of the 2019 Keystone Awards were celebrated at the AGC’s Construction Awards Gala scheduled for Monday, Nov. 4, 2019 at the River City Casino & Hotel in St. Louis.

The Associated General Contractors of Missouri represents more than 500 commercial, industrial, heavy and highway contractors, industry partners and related firms in 110 counties in Missouri. For more information, visit

Electrical Connection members provide safe and reliable electrical construction, maintenance, repair and replacement services across Missouri, the nation and the world.  For more information visit

Cohen Architectural Woodworking Receives Third National Award for Outstanding Workplace Safety

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Cohen Architectural Woodworking announces it has once again received an award for Outstanding Workplace Safety from the Architectural Woodworking Institute (AWI).

Cohen Architectural Woodworking was recognized for the 2019 Zero Lost Time Accident Achievement for Manufacturers Award for reaching more than 100,000 work hours without a safety incident. Cohen also received the award in 2017 as well as the 2017 Safety Improvement Recognition Award for Manufacturers, awarded to companies who reach more than 100,000 hours of maintaining a safe workplace.

“We care about our workers and want to send them home safely to their families. We make sure our entire team is bought into excellence in everything, including safety.” said Phillip Cohen, Founder and President.

The Architectural Woodwork Institute has been the voice of the woodworking industry for more than half a century. The organization provides networking and educational programs for all members. The AWI is known for The Architectural Woodwork Standards (AWS), a guide for the specification, construction, and installation of interior architectural woodwork. Each year it hosts a variety of award competitions honoring top performing companies in several categories.

Founded in 1982, Cohen Architectural Woodworking is a family-owned architectural design/build woodworking firm headquartered in St. James, Missouri. For more information visit


Photo caption: Alan Vance (L), Safety Coordinator with Cohen Architectural Woodworking, receives a certificate from the Architectural Woodworking Institute for Outstanding Workplace Safety. The award was presented to Vance at the Cohen offices by  John Slania, marketing representative for Federated Insurance.

KAI Receives Two AIA St. Louis/AIA Central States Region Design Awards

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KAI Enterprises proudly announces that it has received two AIA St. Louis/AIA Central States Region Design Awards for interior design and architecture. The awards were presented at an Oct. 11 awards ceremony at the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis.

  • Awards Presented to KAI Include:
  • Award: Interiors Category – Distinguished Award
  • Project: Alberici Hillsdale Office Renovation
  • Firm: KAI Design

Project Description: KAI’s Architecture and Interior Design teams were challenged with renovating the outdated second floor of Alberici Corporation’s Hillsdale, Missouri office. The goal was to provide a better workspace for employees at two of its subsidiaries – Hillsdale Fabricators and Kienlen Constructors. The office space was riddled with unused space, outdated finishes and no consistent flow and did not adequately represent the company’s brand or expertise. Its employees were dispersed throughout several floors.

KAI designed an open floor plan that consolidated all of the employees onto one floor, with a centralized break room and a refined, industrial design. The finished design utilizes custom-crafted furniture pieces that showcases the client’s skills, exposed ceilings and columns, sealed concrete floors, reclaimed wood, steel partitions, glass workstations and modern lighting.

“Our team did an excellent job showcasing the company’s brand and skills in the design through the use of custom-made furniture and industrial finishes hand-crafted by the client’s own structural steel fabricators,” said KAI Senior Interior Designer Terry Crotty. “Our designers recognized how pivotal the client’s expertise was to creating their new space.”

  • Award: Architecture Category – Merit Award
  • Project: Grand Flats Luxury Apartments
  • Firm: Lead Architect – HOK, Associate Architect – KAI Design

Project Description: Located at 2232 S. Grand Blvd. in St. Louis’ Compton Heights neighborhood, the 124-unit development features a heated pool and sundeck; studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments; luxury finishes; 24/7 fitness center; self-serve pet spa; coffee bar; designer kitchens; private balconies; social lounge; community micro-market; private meeting rooms and bike storage.

“Our goal on this project was to create a mini-metropolis with modern, luxury finishes and amenities that focus on convenience and community,” said Crotty. “The Grand Flats apartments evokes an environment where people want to be.”

Additionally, KAI Engineering was part of the Soldier’s Memorial Military Museum restoration project team, for which lead architect Mackey Mitchell and associate architect The Grice Group received an AIA design award. KAI Engineering was proud to have been part of the project team.

The 1938 art deco building in Downtown St. Louis underwent a $30 million renovation to its interior and grounds that started in 2016 and was completed in 2018. The renovation made preserving the building’s original art deco detailing a priority. Exterior work included pavement and landscaping replacement, stone wall cladding repair and cleaning, new waterproofing and roofing, new reflecting pool and Five Branches Fountain, and an expanded Court of Honor. The building’s interior received a modern HVAC system, new exhibit galleries, replacement tiles, cleaned and rewired light fixtures, LED lighting, new wheelchair ramp and other ADA-compliant improvements. Renovation to the basement more than doubled the museum’s exhibition space.

KAI Enterprises is a national design and build firm providing delivery-oriented building solutions with a diverse portfolio of experience, in-house multi-discipline professionals, and expertise in both design and construction delivery. Founded in 1980, KAI has grown into one of the largest minority-owned firms in the AEC industry. To learn more about KAI, visit

Electrical Connection Member-Supported Real Estate Investment Trusts Nears $1 Billion

in Associations/News

Very quietly, Electrical Connection members have been supporting nearly $1 billion in investments made in St. Louis area commercial real estate development projects.  The investments comes from a portion of union pension funds reinvested into St. Louis area projects through three real estate investment trusts.  They include AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT)AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust (BIT) and Union Labor Life Insurance Co. (ULLICO).  Collectively, these funds have invested $946 million in local real estate projects.

ULLICO 212 Meremac

Each of the real estate investment trusts are supported by pension funds of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1, which partners with the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) to form the Electrical Connection.

“The investments we supported were particularly valuable in the wake of the Great Recession,” noted Frank Jacobs, business manager, IBEW Local 1.”  “Projects were in danger of stalling when funding dried up and we were enduring depression-level unemployment in the trades.  The entire region needed an infusion of investment.  Fortunately, we had quality developments built with the skill of union labor that attracted investments supported by our union pension funds.”

Doug Martin, executive vice president, St. Louis Chapter NECA, concurred and added, “These are job-generating construction projects that not only provide a good return on investment, but also add to the quality of life in St. Louis.”


The local impact of each of the real estate investment trusts on St. Louis includes:

  • Since inception 30 years ago, the AFL-CIO HIT has invested $575 million to support 32 projects with total development value of $946 million. These projects have built or preserved more than 5,065 housing units and created an estimated 13.5 million hours of union construction work.  In the last 10 years, AFL-CIO HIT has invested $260 million in 13 projects with a total development investment of $484 million in St. Louis. These projects are creating an estimated 6.5 million hours of union construction work. Those investments include:
  • Villas at Crystal Lake, Swansea, IL
  • Council Tower Senior Apt., St. Louis
  • Park Pacific Apt., St. Louis
  • The Laurel, St. Louis
  • Parkway Lakeside Apt., O’Fallon, Ill.  ·
  • Holy Infant & St. Joseph Apt., Shrewsbury, Mo.
  • St. John Neuman Apt., Jennings, Mo.           ·
  • The Heights at Manhassett, Richmond Heights, Mo.
  • The Gatesworth, St. Louis      ·
  • Hampden Hall, St. Louis
  • The Fountains of Ellisville, Ellisville, Mo.       ·
  • Covenent Place II, St. Louis

More on AFL-CIO HIT can be found at

AFL-CIO BIT has invested $180 million in nine St. Louis area projects, producing 1.5 million manhours of construction work.  Most recently, this includes the $51 million Encore at Forest Park.  It also includesthe $42 million Cortona Apartments at Forest Park.   Other projects include the Veterans Administration, IRS Building, and FBI Building in St. Louis, various projects at Fountain Lakes Commerce Center in St. Charles and more.  More can be found at

ULLICO has invested over $191 million in Missouri through its “J for Jobs” program. Most recently it invested $55.7 million to create 212 Meramec Apartments in Clayton, Mo.  More can be found at

“We work with our business, civic and economic development partners throughout the St. Louis region to find meaningful projects that would merit reinvesting union pension funds back into our community,” said Jim Curran, executive vice president, Electrical Connection.

Electrical Connection members provide safe and reliable electrical construction, maintenance, repair and replacement services across Missouri, the nation and the world.  For more information visit

KAI Build & PARIC Corporation Break Ground on $21 Million Ameren Missouri Operating Center

in Companies/News

New facility to serve as electric operations hub for more than 135,000 customers 

KAI Build and joint venture partner PARIC Corporation broke ground on Oct. 24 to start construction of Ameren Missouri’s new North Metro Operating Center at 4427 Geraldine Avenue. The $21 million facility will replace the adjacent Geraldine Operating Center which has employed hundreds of Ameren employees and provided electric operations to North St. Louis for over 60 years.

The North Metro Operating Center will be a localized hub for up to 500 Ameren employees who perform work from electric system repairs to major infrastructure upgrade projects to storm restoration. The new facility, which is expected to be completed in Dec. 2020, will include:

  • 19,600-square-foot office building for administrative offices and a crew area
  • 26,000-square-foot open truck shelter for 42 trucks
  • 6,400-square-foot storage building
  • 4,400-square-foot, three-sided trailer storage building

“Ameren Missouri is committed to creating stronger communities where we work and live, which is why we are reinvesting in North St. Louis by building the new North Metro Operating Center next door to our current facility,” said Michael Moehn, Chairman and President of Ameren Missouri. “The new, larger facility was needed to continue to meet our customers’ service reliability needs in North St. Louis and surrounding communities. A project of this magnitude requires collaboration and partnership with a number of stakeholders, including local government officials, community leaders and a host of diverse contractors.”

Ameren Missouri is constructing the project through a joint venture partnership with its general contractors, PARIC Corporation and minority-owned KAI Build.

“KAI Build is proud to be a part of helping the transformation of the north bookend of the city. Ameren, being an excellent corporate citizen and making this investment, gets the snowball rolling to help start the development infill between this project and the central corridor,” said Michael Kennedy, Jr., CEO of KAI Enterprises. “This allows developers to start looking at all the possibilities north of Delmar. These anchor projects are so important. This feels really good.”

The joint venture partnership between PARIC and KAI will represent the two firms’ eighth project together over the past 20 years. As a prominent construction leader in the area, PARIC recognizes the impact of partnership with diverse businesses.

“We are very excited to start this project with Ameren Missouri alongside our longtime partners KAI,” said Keith Wolkoff, President of PARIC Corporation. “We pride ourselves on bringing meaningful inclusion efforts to all of our projects and embed that into our company culture. The importance of growing the capabilities of minority firms in our area is crucial.”

KAI Enterprises is a national design and build firm providing delivery-oriented building solutions with a diverse portfolio of experience, in-house multi-discipline professionals, and expertise in both design and construction delivery. Founded in 1980, KAI has grown into one of the largest minority-owned firms in the AEC industry. To learn more about KAI, visit

PARIC Corporation was established in 1979 and is currently one of the largest privately held, St. Louis based, companies and ranked nationally in the ENR Top 200. PARIC is at the forefront of construction advancements, utilizing the latest in virtual design and construction technology. For more information about PARIC visit 

Photo Credit – Megan Maune

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