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Missouri Minute: USDA move faces legal scrutiny; PayIt hires Uber exec



Good morning, MBA readers,

One of Kansas City’s hottest startups has hired a new marketing chief from one of Silicon Valley’s most valued — and controversial — companies. In other news, the USDA’s inspector general says the department may have acted prematurely when it announced Kansas City as the new home for two of its research agencies. Elsewhere, a mega media merger could lead to one of Missouri’s biggest newspapers changing hands. Scroll down to get caught up on these and other major business stories of the day.


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USDA may have broken law in KC relocation decisions
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s inspector general says the department may have broken the law by not obtaining congressional approval before relocating two of its research agencies from Washington D.C. to Kansas City. (Politico)

FEMA approves aid in six more Missouri counties
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has extended flood and severe weather aid to six more Missouri counties: Callaway, Jefferson, Lewis, McDonald, Newton and Saline. Residents in these counties may qualify for temporary housing, assistance with repairs and low-interest disaster loans. (Missourinet)

Stifel adds Wells Fargo, Google leaders to board
St. Louis investment bank Stifel Financial has added former Wells Fargo Advisors CEO Danny Ludeman and Google marketing director Adam Berlew to its board, expanding it from 10 to 12 directors. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Proposed media merger would involve big Missouri papers
GateHouse Media has agreed to buy Gannett for $1.4 billion in a tie-up between two of the largest U.S. newspaper companies. GateHouse has 17 Missouri properties, including the Columbia Daily Tribune, and Gannett owns the Springfield News-Leader. (Associated Press)

Wisconsin firm to bring almost 800 jobs to KC area
Two divisions of Faith Technologies, an electrical, engineering and technology systems firm, will open a new facility on the former site of a PacSun distribution center. The company said it plans to bring about 780 jobs to the area over the next few years. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Emerson shares surge despite earnings decline
Ferguson-based Emerson Electric reported fiscal third quarter earnings of $712 million, down 13% from a year earlier. The company’s shares rose 2% Tuesday. Emerson reaffirmed its forecasts for full-year earnings and cash flow, while sales grew 5% for the period that ended June 30. (Reuters)

KC design firm wins $605 million Florida project
The architectural and engineering team at Populous will work with Orlando-based C.T. Hsu + Associates to design a $605 million convention center expansion in Orange County, Florida. (Kansas City Business Journal)

St. Louis branding agency makes Chicago acquisition
Magnetize has acquired Chicago-based OrgStory, a marketing agency that caters to nonprofit organizations. The deal gives the St. Louis firm a foothold in Chicago and strengthens its presence in the nonprofit sector. (St. Louis Business Journal)

‘Manure-to-energy’ project takes off in northern Missouri
A project that converts hog manure into natural gas is now operational in Milan. The project is a joint effort between Smithfield Foods and Roeslein Alternative Energy of St. Louis. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

KC-area insurance brokerage sells to Chicago firm
Overland Park, Kansas-based Truss has been acquired by Hub International, a global insurance brokerage based in Chicago. The deal marks Hub International’s first acquisition in the area. (Kansas City Business Journal)

BioSTL scores $1.5 million from Bayer
Bayer, which owns Monsanto, has awarded $1.5 million to bioscience-oriented accelerator BioSTL. The funds will support BioSTL’s new facility and programming. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Columbia mulls cannabis application process
The Columbia City Council has set a tentative date of Oct. 1 to begin accepting commercial medical marijuana applications. Under the proposal discussed Monday, the city will score applicants based on diversity of ownership, local ownership, distance from city hall and whether the business has a cultural competency plan. (Columbia Missourian)


Say that again

“They’re getting their money, but they’re getting it with preserving the people’s dignity by and large.”

That’s Eric Banks, a St. Louis attorney with years of experience in the region’s municipal courts. Five years after the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, municipal courts have become less of a cash cow for their cities, Banks told St. Louis Public Radio. The 2014 incident highlighted the troubled relationship between the community, police and the courts that often disregarded defendants’ rights in favor of generating revenue through fines and fees.


Go figure

$560 million
That’s the price of Ameren’s new stock offering, which will finance two wind energy projects in Missouri, Reuters reports. The St. Louis-based utility will offer 7.55 million shares at $74.30, a 1% discount to Monday’s closing price, through a forward sale agreement with Goldman Sachs. The offering represents 3% of Ameren’s outstanding shares.


Hello, my name is

Alexandru Otrezov
The former Uber executive is joining PayIt as the Kansas City startup’s first chief market officer, Startland News reports. As the head of search and experimentation, Otrezov oversaw user acquisition and branding efforts across Uber brands, including Uber Eats. He will continue to work from San Francisco as he leads PayIt’s brand and growth efforts. Back in March, PayIt scored a $100 million investment from New York’s Insight Partners. Two months later, the startup received $25 million in follow-up investment from Tampa-based Weatherford Capital.


It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning.

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