Missouri Minute: St. Louis renews city-county merger debate; Cerner hires marketing chief

Good morning, MBA readers,

General Motors may be feeling the heat from striking workers, but in Missouri the automaker is dealing with the more pleasant prospect of $50 million in tax breaks that it’s working out with the state. Elsewhere in incentive news, Missouri officials are expected to dole out more subsidies to another firm to hop the border from Kansas, despite the economic truce between the two states. And in the St. Louis area, local officials have revived talk of a city-county merger. Read on for more about these stories and the rest of the day’s top business news.

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As workers walk out, GM continues to mull Missouri tax breaks
General Motors and the state of Missouri remain in talks over a subsidy package that would give the company $50 million in tax credits to invest $750 million in its Wentzville assembly plant. These talks continue as workers at the Wentzville plant, which employs 3,500, take part in a national labor strike that began Monday. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Parson heads to California for economic development trip
Gov. Mike Parson has traveled to California this week to pitch to companies that may be interested in expanding or investing in Missouri. His plans include meeting agricultural technology firms and other businesses that already have a presence in the state. (Missourinet)

Missouri offers $62 million incentive for Kansas firm’s move, despite economic truce
Missouri has agreed to offer Waddell & Reed over $62 million in incentives for the financial firm to move from Overland Park, Kansas, to Kansas City, Missouri. The company, which has pledged about $90 million for a new headquarters in Missouri, said the move was already in the works before the governors of Missouri and Kansas agreed to stop offering incentives for companies to move across the border. (Kansas City Star)

St. Louis rekindles city-county merger debate
The Municipal League of Metro St. Louis has launched the Board of Freeholders, a 19-person body that will have a year to present local voters with a city-county merger plan. St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County Executive Sam page will each appoint nine members to the board and Gov. Mike Parson will appoint the final member. (St. Louis Public Radio)

A-B InBev subsidiary acquires canned wine maker
Carlton & United Breweries, the Australian business unit of Anheuser-Busch InBev, has acquired Riot Wine Co., which sells wine exclusively in kegs and cans. St. Louis-headquartered A-B InBev plans to sell Carlton & United to Asahi Group Holdings in an $11.3 billion deal that is expected to close early next year. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Cerner hires marketing chief
North Kansas City-based Cerner has hired Darrell Johnson, a former executive at medical device maker Medtronic, as its first chief marketing officer. (Kansas City Business Journal)

California fashion brand targets KC for its first pop-up store
Liverpool Los Angeles will open its first pop-up store in Overland Park, Kansas, from Nov. 7 through Dec. 7. The hybrid retail-wholesale business called the area a “target growth area” for its brand. (Kansas City Star)

St. Louis redeveloper acquires retired coal power plant
Commercial Liability Partners has acquired the Wood River Power Plant from Dynergy Midwest Generation. The coal-powered plant in East Alton, Illinois, closed in 2016. CLP, which specializes in redeveloping properties with environmental concerns, is in talks with local stakeholders and regulators for input on what the development could entail. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Varsity Tutors offers $50 million in free test prep
Clayton-based education startup Varsity Tutors has launched a new $50 million initiative to help students nationwide prepare for the ACT and SAT exams for free. The company said the recent college admissions scandal inspired its so-called “Test Prep 4 All” program. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Two St. Louis TV stations to switch hands after Tribune acquisition
The Federal Communications Commission on Monday approved Nexstar Media Group’s acquisition of Tribune Media for $6.4 billion, giving Nexstar ownership of KPLR channels 2 and 11 in the St. Louis market. Tribune previously agreed to sell to Sinclair Broadcast group, but backed out of the deal in August 2018. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Say that again

“Forget about Kroenke. … Anyone can invest. That’s personal. This is business for our city.”

That’s Wentzville Mayor Nick Guccione, who says that a $38 million public-private partnership is a boon for his fast-growing city regardless of its possible ties to Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Earlier this year, the Wentzville Board of Aldermen approved a deal that would pay at least $23 million to Wentzville Bend Development to build a recreation center in the St. Louis suburb. A company listed in the development agreement, UTW Realty, has named Kroenke as a partner. Although city officials have not dealt with Kroenke directly, they say that the developer — a controversial figure in the St. Louis area after moving the Rams out of town — may be an investor in the project.

Go figure

That’s how many new workers Mid Continent Steel and Wire says it has hired since March, when the Poplar Bluff company employed about 300, Missourinet reports. Mid Continent, one of the largest nail manufacturers in the U.S., cut about 200 jobs last year, citing foreign competitors that could make cheaper nails. About 80% of Mid Continent’s sales have returned since it received a tariff waiver on steel imports from Mexico, according to a company official. The company expects to have up to 500 workers by the end of this year.

Hello, my name is

Lowenhaupt Global Advisors
The St. Louis wealth management firm has been sold to Chicago’s CIBC Private Wealth Management for an undisclosed amount, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. The sale of LGA, which managed $1.8 billion in assets, comes as its namesake founder and owner Charles Lowenhaupt shifts his focus to the family law firm Lowenhaupt & Chasnoff. LGA has a long history with CIBC dating back decades. More recently, former LGA president Chris Quinn joined CIBC as a managing director.

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


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