Missouri Minute: Hy-Vee plans renovations; nurses picket at SLU Hospital

Good morning, MBA readers,

It’s no secret that rising tariffs on Chinese goods will hit U.S. importers hard, but some Missouri companies are finding it even harder to shift supply chains away from China. Meanwhile, a recent survey of small business owners in Missouri revealed concerns about whether government officials understand the needs of small businesses. Plus, Hy-Vee has big plans for investment in stores across the state. Read on for these stories and other Missouri business news of the day.

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From our newsroom

Fed report suggests modest economic expansion, continued trade concern
Across the U.S., economic activity increased slightly between early July and late August, according to the latest Federal Reserve Bank Beige Book report.

Small business owners worry about health care costs, disconnect with government, report says
A poll of small business owners in Missouri found that only 12% felt their government understands their needs and challenges a lot. The poll, conducted on behalf of the advocacy group Small Business Majority, highlighted concerns about health care costs, the relationship between small business and government, and more.

SEMO aims to address college affordability with new scholarship program
A new scholarship program will give qualifying students a chance to attend Southeast Missouri State University for free. The university, which reallocated funds from another program to create the new scholarship, will begin offering the scholarship next fall.

Stay alert

Southwest still negotiating compensation from Boeing
The CEO of Southwest Airlines said Monday that the airline is considering ways to share compensation with workers as it continues to negotiate with Boeing over damage caused by the grounding of the 737 Max. Southwest, the top carrier at both St. Louis Lambert International Airport and Kansas City International Airport, has taken the Max out of its schedule through Jan. 5. (Associated Press)

Nestlé to close Earth City facility, cut 56 jobs
Nestlé announced that it will permanently close an ice cream manufacturing plant in Earth City by Dec. 31, eliminating all 56 jobs there. The closure is part of Nestlé’s planned transition from a direct-store-delivery model to a warehouse model. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Nurses picket short staffing at SLU Hospital
About 40 registered nurses and supporters gathered outside St. Louis University Hospital on Monday, claiming short staffing at the hospital puts patient care at risk and contributes to high staff turnover. A hospital spokesman has denied the claims of short staffing. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

SLU professor awarded $3.26 million NIH grant
Verna Hendricks-Ferguson, a professor at Saint Louis University’s Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing, has received $3.26 million from the National Institutes of Health to study how to best communicate with parents of children who have cancer that is difficult to survive. (St. Louis Business Journal)

St. Louis IT conference gifts $330,000 to local groups, schools
Gateway to Innovation, an annual St. Louis IT conference, announced Monday that it has donated about $330,000 in proceeds to 23 local nonprofits and schools, including LaunchCode and St. Louis Community College. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Mercy Springfield hosts ribbon cutting for new facility
Mercy Hospital Springfield held a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday for the second phase of its three-phase Heart Hospital construction project. Phase two relocates clinic space and opens a dedicated entrance for heart patients. (Springfield News-Leader)

Say that again

“You just can’t snap your fingers and change the supply chain overnight. If China controls 89% of the market, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know it will be difficult to move production anywhere else.”

That’s Cap America CEO Phil Page, who told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the latest round of tariffs on Chinese goods will “erode” his margins. Page, whose Fredericktown business puts custom designs and company logos on imported baseball caps, learned last month that the tariff on Chinese caps will jump to 30% on Oct. 1. Until now, Cap America has been able to cushion the financial blow by placing large orders while the tariff was just 10%. But with the last of that inventory used, Page faces an existential threat, he said, as he may not have enough time to find manufacturers in other countries.

Go figure

$90 million
That’s how much Iowa-based grocer Hy-Vee plans to spend on renovations to its stores across Missouri and Kansas, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. The renovations, which are slated for completion early next year, include converting gas stations to a new concept that offers grocery and lockers for picking up online orders. These changes will take place at 11 Hy-Vee locations in Kansas City, where the company also plans to open a fulfillment center to serve its online shopping service. The fulfillment center is expected to create 127 new jobs.

Hello, my name is

Nancy Blattner
This former Fontbonne University administrator is returning to the St. Louis school to serve as its new president effective July 2020, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. Blattner, who previously served as vice president and dean for academic affairs at Fontbonne, is currently president of Caldwell University in New Jersey. Back at Fontbonne, Blattner will replace Michael Pressimone, who announced his resignation earlier this year.

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


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