Missouri Minute: Runway issue grounds Columbia flights; Express Scripts faces congressional scrutiny

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March Madness wrapped up last night, and chances are your office pool is going to the coworker who knows nothing about basketball and picked winners based on something like mascots, school colors or where their second cousins went to college. Let’s not dwell on that, though. After all, there’s always next March, and today there’s plenty of business news to cover, including an extended shutdown of the Columbia airport, double-digit growth for SSM Health and new verticals for LaunchKC.

Stay alert

Runway issue grounds Columbia flights for a week
American and United Airlines have cited an “emergency construction” on the Columbia Regional Airport runway, which city officials say is to address the “crown” between two runways. (Columbia Missourian)

Express Scripts faces congressional scrutiny over high drug costs
The St. Louis County company, one of the largest pharmacy benefit managers in the country, will join CVS Health and UnitedHealth’s OptumRx in a hearing Tuesday before the Senate Finance Committee. (Washington Post)

KC Council takes up debate on tax incentive caps
A newly proposed ballot measure would ask voters to delay the implementation of another measure — that would lower the cap on tax incentives to developers — until competing counties have enacted similar measures. (KSHB)

Flood conditions improving, but St. Louis region remains vulnerable
The Army Corps of Engineers said the next six to eight weeks could hold potential for additional flooding. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Centene awards $100 million to Washington University
The 10-year grant is to fund research into Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer, diabetes and obesity. (Associated Press)

Build-A-Bear under pressure from activist investors
Florida investor David Kanen, who owns 9.7 percent of the Overland-based stuffed bear retailer, said he’s pursuing “potential business combinations” and other plans to “enhance shareholder value.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

UMSL leader and St. Louis Public Radio founder dies at 80
Donald Driemeier, who founded the radio station in 1972, served in various administrative roles at UMSL, including dean of the school of business and interim chancellor in 2003. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Les Bourgeois Vineyards changes hands
Curtis Bourgeois, former owner of the Rocheport winery, has retired after 32 years in the family business. (Columbia Missourian)

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Ballwin is Missouri’s most profitable market for house flippers, a new report says. The average gross profit on flipped houses in the St. Louis suburb was $105,150 in 2018, according to an annual report from ATTOM Data Solutions. The Missouri average, based on 46 cities and towns tracked, was $45,387. That trailed the national average of $65,000.

Say that again

“If we can get the structure in, I believe that the free market will take place, and people will offer (camera installation) as an incentive for (nursing home residents) to come to their facility.”

Missouri lawmakers like Rep. Andrew McDaniel, R-Deering, are mulling two bills that would allow nursing home residents to install cameras in their rooms to help prevent or verify abuse and neglect by staff. One version would outright forbid facilities from preventing residents from monitoring their own rooms. Another, sponsored by McDaniel, would require patients to get the facility’s permission first, the Columbia Missourian reports.

Go figure

16.2 percent
That is how much SSM Health grew in revenue last year, to $7.6 billion from $6.5 billion, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. Kris Zimmer, chief financial officer for the St. Louis-based nonprofit hospital system, said its acquisition of the merged Agnesian health system in Wisconsin was the primary driver of the growth.

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LaunchKC, the grant competition and accelerator program designed to draw early-stage startups to Kansas City, is changing its approach this year, Startland News reports. LaunchKC will shift from one general accelerator program to three accelerators focused on specific industries: financial technology, health technology and “clean” technology. Organizers will unveil more at an event Wednesday.

Hello, my name is

Juan Ferreira 
The former vice president for global crop protection at Monsanto has been named a venture partner at Yield Lab, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. Ferreira is the fourth Monsanto executive to join the St. Louis accelerator, including founders Jeff Peterson, former vice president of strategic development at Monsanto, and Thad Simons, an ex-Monsanto lawyer and former CEO of Novus International.

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