Missouri Minute: Southwest expects to ground 737 MAX longer; Hallmark raises tariff concerns

Good morning, MBA readers,

We’re days away from July Fourth, but Hallmark is thinking about Christmas. More specifically, the Kansas City-based company has voiced concerns about how a tariff on Chinese-assembled Christmas ornaments may affect the holiday season. In other news, Ascension has named a new chief clinical officer and St. Louis continues to attract health care startups — this time, from Portugal. Read on for these and other top business headlines from around Missouri.


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Stay alert

Southwest expects Boeing 737 MAX cancellations beyond Oct. 1
Southwest Airlines, the largest carrier at both St. Louis Lambert International Airport and Kansas City International Airport, expects to remove the grounded 737 MAX jets from its flying schedule beyond the current Oct. 1 reentry date after a new safety issue was discovered. (Reuters)

Ascension appoints new clinical executive
Richard Fogel will replace David Pryor, who retired as chief clinical officer for the health system effective Sunday. Fogel previously served as chief clinical officer at an Indiana hospital that is part of Ascension’s network. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Hallmark: Tariffs would hurt consumers, KC workers
The company’s federal affairs director has testified before the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and asked that the Trump administration remove greeting cards and Christmas ornaments from potential new tariffs against China. (Kansas City Business Journal)

St. Louis distributor expands New Mexico operation
Creve Coeur-based Bunzl Distribution USA has signed a “long-term” lease for a newly built 80,000-square-foot facility in Albuquerque. The company, which already employs 25 in Albuquerque, distributes food packaging and other products to food processors and supermarkets. (Albuquerque Business First)

United Way of the Ozarks hires new leader
Former Springfield City Manager Greg Burris will serve as president and CEO of the organization when Debi Meeds retires from the post Aug. 1. (Springfield News-Leader)

SIUE challenge hopes to boost St. Louis Metro East startups
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Small Business Development Center is now taking applications for its sixth Metro East Start-Up Challenge. The top three startups will split a $20,000 prize. (St. Louis Public Radio)


Show me

Missouri saw 0.8% annual average growth in labor productivity between 2007 and 2017, according to new state-level labor productivity data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Missouri ranked 30th nationally and tied for sixth among the 12 states in the Midwest region for productivity gains over that period.


In their words

Rocking the $4.5 billion boat: How a founder’s passion and a Facebook group fueled a startup
Michael Kiel had just sold his marketing agency when he decided to create a Facebook group to connect people who love boating at Lake of the Ozarks. He started by inviting a handful of boating friends. Before long, a few hundred boaters had joined the group. But that was just the start of it, as Kiel describes in a new guest post.


Hello, my name is

Lauren Conaway
The founder of InnovateHER KC is quitting her day job as director of operations for the Kansas City Startup Foundation this month to focus on her own women-focused startup full-time, Startland News reports. Founded in 2018, InnovateHER KC’s goal is to create a support system around strong, diverse female and female-identifying leaders.


Say that again

“One of the things that we’re finding is not just that there’s a significant health care market here, but the talent base in St. Louis is incredibly strong. … A St. Louis office is certainly something that we’re going to deeply consider.”

That’s Rahul Kar, regional vice president of sales at SWORD Health. SWORD, a health care startup based in Portugal, is discussing potential business partnerships with St. Louis companies to establish a local foothold, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. The company provides customized physical therapy treatments using digital therapists powered by artificial intelligence.


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


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