Missouri Minute: Taking the trade war temperature

Good morning, MBA readers,

Before you sign off for the weekend, consider the impact of the ongoing trade war with China. A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City shows regional manufacturing activity at its lowest level in nearly three years, citing trade concerns. Elsewhere, the USDA will pay American farmers another $16 billion in trade aid as they face diminished demand from China. Meanwhile, Sen. Josh Hawley is calling on Missouri universities to cut ties with a Chinese program. Scroll down for those and the rest of the day’s top business stories.


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From our newsroom

After big Equifax settlement, KC attorney not expecting federal data security reform
Attorney Norman Siegel, a partner at the Kansas City law firm of Stueve Siegel Hanson, played a key role in the $700 million settlement of the Equifax data breach. Siegel says that, despite its reach, the 2017 breach probably won’t have many long-term effects on data privacy legislation.

Speaking Startup: Taking tech innovation to the farm
For this week’s podcast, we stopped by the InfoAg conference in St. Louis to chat with Vijay Chauhan of GlobalSTL. The onetime Monsanto executive is now working to help connect agricultural producers to innovative technology.


Stay alert

Governors weigh health care plans as they await ACA ruling
Republican governors have called on Congress to quickly pass a new health care bill to replace the Affordable Care Act if a federal appeals court upholds a December ruling that declared the Obama-era law unconstitutional. Missouri was part of a lawsuit filed by 18 Republican-leaning states last year to challenge the ACA. (Associated Press)

KC factory index drops near three-year low
Regional factory growth was flat, and firms noted increased uncertainty in June from trade concerns and weaker domestic demand, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City reported Thursday. (Reuters)

A-B InBev reports profit as beer sales hit five-year high
Anheuser-Busch InBev beat analyst expectations after beer sales grew at their fastest pace in over five years. Beer volumes grew 2.1% in the second quarter. (Reuters)

Southwest to cut St. Louis-Newark flights amid 737 Max groundings
Starting Nov. 3, Southwest Airlines will cut about 14 weekly direct flights from St. Louis Lambert International Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport to “mitigate damage” from the groundings of Boeing 737 Max jets. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Hawley calls on universities to cut ties with Chinese program
U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, wrote to top leaders at the University of Missouri and Webster University to ask them to cut ties with the Confucius Institute, describing the program as a “danger to our national defense.” (Columbia Missourian)

Cerner achieves $40 million in savings from buyouts
Cerner CFO Marc Naughton said the Kansas City health IT company has saved $40 million after an undisclosed number of employees took a voluntary buyout. The company plans to cut costs by $200 million by the end of 2020. (Kansas City Business Journal)

CEO: Centene-WellCare merger is ahead of schedule
Centene, the managed care provider based in Clayton, has obtained regulatory approval in eight of 27 states to merge with rival firm WellCare Health Plans, Centene Chairman and CEO Michael Neidorff said earlier this week. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Missouri health centers to split $910,000 grant
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $910,000 to the Missouri Primary Care Association to support 26 health centers across the state. (Columbia Missourian)

KC area company wins NASA certification
Lenexa, Kansas-based Enduralock was one of three winners at the NASA iTech competition earlier this month based on technical viability and impact on future space exploration. The agency has expressed interest in using Enduralock’s vibration-resistant fasteners on future missions. (Kansas City Business Journal)

New BioSTL building brings startup support under one roof
The renovated BioSTL building in the St. Louis Cortex district will provide lab space, free resources and support for startups and entrepreneurs. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Metro East farmers market appeals to SNAP users
The Old Town Farmers Market in Belleville, Illinois, has begun accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to offer fresh groceries to low-income customers. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Pokémon pop-up bar coming to KC
Los Angeles-based PokéBar will set up shop in seven regions across Kansas City on Feb. 8 and 9. (Startland News)


Say that again

“Our goal is to capture the whole market of Kansas City while we’re also focusing nationally. And (grocery stores are) the easiest way for us to spread our wings.”

That’s Isaac Collins, co-founder of Kansas City startup SERV Nutrition. SERV has recently partnered with Mr. Checkout, a national distribution network that has a 35,000-store reach, Startland News reports. Less than a year into business, SERV has landed its patented protein pods on shelves at Price Chopper and Hen House in the Kansas City area. While the company has an online sales presence, a focus on traditional distribution channels has helped SERV reach more customers.


Go figure

$16 billion
That’s how much the U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to pay in new aid to farmers hurt by the trade war with China, The Wall Street Journal reports. Farmers will receive between $15 and $150 per acre. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said the new aid was designed based on feedback after last year’s $12 billion trade aid program. China, one of the top buyers of American crops, has imposed $60 billion in tariffs on U.S. imports in response to American tariffs to Chinese goods.


Hello, my name is

MathBRIX
This St. Louis startup plans to expand its staff after winning a $225,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. The grant will allow MathBRIX to hire two new employees focused on machine learning. MathBRIX plans to use machine learning for Parent Connect, an app in development that would help parents assist their children in learning math.


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