Missouri Minute: Safety National plans $32 million expansion; Mercy acquires three properties

Good morning, MBA readers,

While the United Auto Workers union continues to picket General Motors for a better contract, the group is contending with a new complication. A union official from the St. Louis area, who has been advising the national bargaining team, is facing federal charges of money laundering and embezzlement. And here’s something else unexpected: A St. Louis agtech firm is working to turn weeds into a source of biofuel, with $10 million in fresh federal funding to help that effort. You can read more on these stories and other Missouri business news below.

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Missouri CAFO law now in effect
A new law that prevents Missouri counties from passing health regulations stricter than state laws governing large scale feedlots is now in effect. A lawsuit challenging the law is due for a court hearing Dec. 9. (Associated Press)

St. Charles UAW official advising GM negotiations while facing criminal charges
Vance Pearson, director of the United Auto Workers’ Hazelwood chapter, has been advising the union’s bargaining team while facing criminal charges of embezzling hundreds of thousands in union funds. (The Detroit News)

Wentzville GM workers demand better wages, job security, health benefits
Union workers have set up pickets and tents outside the General Motors plant in Wentzville, asking the company for better wages and job security and more comprehensive health benefits. United Auto Workers members are receiving $250 a week while on strike. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Mercy acquires three Sachs properties
St. Louis-based Mercy Hospital has acquired three former Sachs assets near its Virtual Care Center in Chesterfield from Gershman Commercial Real Estate. The health care network said it “will manage and continue to lease office space to tenants.” (St. Louis Business Journal)

St. Louis insurer plans $32 million HQ expansion
Safety National Casualty Corp., a specialty insurance carrier, will begin work on a 145,000-square-foot expansion of its Maryland Heights campus in October. The company expects the construction of two new buildings and a parking lot to be completed by late 2020 and upgrades to its existing building to wrap up by April 2021. (St. Louis Business Journal)

St. Louis firm gets $10 million federal grant to turn weeds into cash crops
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded $10 million to an effort involving Creve Coeur’s CoverCress to commercialize pennycress, a winter-growing weed that produces high-quality oil. CoverCress will work with professors from five universities to further refine the crop with the goal of producing 2 billion gallons of biofuel annually. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

KC architects preparing Hawaii stadium renovation
Kansas City-based Crawford Architects has been hired by the state of Hawaii as the master planning consultant for a redevelopment of Aloha Stadium. The new stadium district would scale down the existing stadium while adding hotel, retail, office and residential spaces. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Kauffman support revives Pitch Perfect startup bootcamp
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has agreed to back Pitch Perfect, a startup bootcamp at the Enterprise Center in Johnson County, after the program ran out of money. Pitch Perfect will relaunch Oct. 23 and launch two more cohorts in 2020 and 2021. (Startland News)

KC man sues e-cigarette maker over marketing practice
Issac Gant, a Johnson County, Kansas, man who says he has used Juul e-cigarettes since he was a high school senior, is suing the maker of the e-cigarette product, citing misleading marketing and labels. In his lawsuit, Gant says he understood Juul products to be “a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes,” and claims that his use of the product has led to respiratory problems and coughing fits. (KSHB)

Show me

In 2018, startups created more than 44,000 jobs in Missouri, accounting for nearly 80% of all new jobs in the state. That’s one of the insights from MoSourceLink’s new Show Me Jobs report, which looks at the impact of first-time employers on job creation in Missouri.

Say that again

“It is really shocking to me that the underlying mechanism by which we’re granting the authority to move forward has so significantly changed without a single peep to the public.”

That’s St. Louis Alderwoman Cara Spencer, who is questioning why the push for a public vote on the privatization of the St. Louis Lambert Airport was seemingly swept under the rug, St. Louis Public Radio reports. The city’s application to the Federal Aviation Administration outlined two methods of approval: a petition signed by 10% of residents to trigger a public vote, or a vote by the Board of Aldermen to amend a city law, allowing the airport to be privately leased. Spencer said she didn’t know about the former option for the past year she has spent lobbying for a public vote. Now, she’s asking the mayor and the board why it wasn’t considered.

Go figure

$195 million
That’s how much Brennan Investment, an industrial property investor and developer based in the Chicago area, paid for a portfolio acquisition including two LMI Aerospace locations in St. Charles, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. LMI Aerospace, a unit of Belgian aerospace company Sonaca Group, appears to be the only St. Louis-area property included in the acquisition.

Hello, my name is

Randall Landes
The former CFO of Kansas City retired on Friday, but he’s not going too far, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. Landes will begin in a new CFO position for Visit KC, the city’s tourism group, at the end of the month. Landes has worked for the city since 1989.

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


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