Missouri Minute: Centene-WellCare merger clears hurdle; Sprint signs wind farm deal

Good morning, MBA readers,

Today’s headlines suggest a bit of turbulence around St. Louis Lambert International Airport. St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson has long feuded with the city’s comptroller over Lambert’s finances as well as efforts to privatize the airport. Now, the comptroller has taken to the airwaves to air her grievances over the privatization debate, claiming Lambert is doing just fine in its current state. At the same time, the airport is facing a lawsuit claiming that officials improperly scrapped an international freight cargo deal. Scroll down to find plenty more on these stories and other top business news from around the state.


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Centene, WellCare merger clears major regulatory hurdle
St. Louis-based insurer Centene has received approval from 17 states, including Missouri, to merge with WellCare Health Plans. (Becker’s Hospital Review)

Sprint signs wind farm deal with Duke Energy
Sprint has signed a 12-year virtual power-purchase agreement with Duke Energy Renewables, which will allow the Overland Park, Kansas, company to reduce its carbon emissions by 30%. (Charlotte Business Journal)

St. Louis officials question lack of local workers for $104 million redevelopment
St. Louis officials are calling on Alterra Worldwide, the Dallas-based developer behind the $104 million redevelopment of the Jefferson Arms building, to hire more local workers for the project. Mayor Lyda Krewson said the city is a “big investor” in the project with $20 million in promised tax incentives. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Lawsuit blames city for scrapped international cargo plans at St. Louis airport
Bi-National Gateway Terminal, the would-be operator of an international cargo facility at St. Louis Lambert International Airport, has sued the city of St. Louis, claiming airport officials improperly terminated the deal last May. The lawsuit contends that such an action could only be taken by an ordinance passed by the Board of Aldermen. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Comptroller: Lambert privatization ‘doesn’t make good financial sense’
St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green criticized proposals to privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport during a radio show Thursday, claiming airport revenues are strong even without a private operator. (St. Louis Public Radio)

KC jet-share company expands in five cities
Airshare, a Lenexa, Kansas, firm that facilitates shared jet ownership, has hired two industry veterans to support its expansion to five markets across the Midwest. The company, which boasts over 12,000 annual private aircraft flights, plans to double its revenue in the next three years. (MBA)

Joint venture plans $22 million hospital expansion in St. Louis area
Anderson Healthcare and Kindred Healthcare announced this week that Illinois regulators approved a $22 million plan to add a second building to a rehabilitation hospital in Edwardsville, Illinois. Construction is expected to begin next year. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Anchor tenant named for Chesterfield entertainment development
Main Event, a Texas-based indoor entertainment company, will be the anchor tenant for The District entertainment development in Chesterfield. The venue, Main Event’s first in the St. Louis area, will be roughly 50,000 square feet and is expected to hire around 150 employees. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Webster University restructures executive posts
Effective Thursday, Webster University President Elizabeth Stroble will take the title of chancellor while Provost Julian Schuster will take the president’s post. The school’s board of trustees said the changes “reflect the growing and challenging demands of leading Webster University as a global system.” (St. Louis Business Journal)

UM System considers changes to retirement plan
The University of Missouri System Board of Curators is considering a plan that would broaden the type of employee retirement compensation eligible for a match. The changes to the contribution plan would be effective Oct. 1, pending board approval. (Columbia Missourian)

Columbia School Board approves union agreement
The Columbia School Board has approved a long-contested collective bargaining deal between the district and the Columbia Missouri National Education Association. (Columbia Missourian)

Sprint, DFA open apps for 2020 accelerator programs
The Sprint Corporate Accelerator Program has opened applications for programs tailored to 5G technology and agricultural technology products. (Startland News)


Say that again

“I don’t want to be the person who takes care of funding other people’s issues… I feel like you all should come to town and do it yourselves.”

That’s Kansas City councilwoman Heather Hall talking about a promise made by a past city council to approve city funding for a 25-story downtown office tower, KCUR reports. Hall and the rest of the current council are stuck deciding whether to put taxpayer money into the building to fulfill city promises made in a 2004 development agreement with H&R Block, or to hold off in an attempt to save money. If the deal’s approved, the city would back $63 million of the $133 million project.


Show me


Today’s graphic looks at Missouri’s concentration of startups by industry as of 2018. Health care and social assistance was the most popular sector for such companies by a long shot. That’s one of the findings about startups and job creation highlighted in the Show Me Jobs report published Wednesday by MOSourceLink.


Go figure

$20 million
That’s how much Missouri still owes in tax refunds that were due five months ago, St. Louis Public Radio reports. Some 9,600 returns are still pending — only a small fraction of the 1.7 million individual returns the state has already claimed to have issued. The state Department of Revenue said that’s 96.2% of the total issued. However, State Auditor Nicole Galloway said the delay is “just not right.” Added Galloway: “It’s September, and Missourians are still waiting to get their own money back from the government.”


Send tweet

— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) September 19, 2019
U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, challenged Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Thursday during a Capitol Hill meeting with lawmakers about new tech regulations. After the meeting, Hawley took to Twitter claiming the Facebook billionaire admitted to censoring certain conservative commentators. Hawley has been a staunch critic of large tech companies such as Facebook during his short tenure as senator. The freshman lawmaker has introduced bills to require the company to ditch its infinite scroll feature and submit to regular federal audits.


Hello, my name is

Jill Meyer
The Kansas City tech leader has been tapped to fill a newly created role at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Innovation Center, Startland News reports. Meyer, who will become the senior director of technology ventures, has most recently served as senior technology development and commercialization consultant for the Missouri Small Business Development Center at UMKC and program director for ScaleUP! Kansas City. She’ll lead Innovation Center efforts to aid in the development of startups across the state.


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


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