Missouri Minute: Chao promotes rural road program; court sides with Missouri prison guards

Good morning, MBA readers,

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao visited St. Louis on Tuesday to launch a new program designed to help improve rural roads, which she said are “challenged by disparities.” But what about rural bike routes? Business along the state’s popular Katy Trail was down 12.7% this summer after spring flood events made the path impossible to access in some areas. And while we’re talking transportation, today’s graphic offers a look at what the transportation sector has meant to Missouri’s energy consumption over the last two decades. Read on for all of that and the rest of the state’s top business stories.

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Court sides with Missouri prison guards in pay case
A state appeals court on Tuesday sided with prison guards who alleged the Missouri Department of Corrections did not pay them for time spent on mandatory procedures at the start and end of shifts. The judgment could cost taxpayers $125 million. (Associated Press)

KC-based electrical contractor appears to have shuttered
R.F. Fisher Electric Co. may have shut its doors after a lawsuit filed by Bank Midwest alleging the company is in default on over $11.4 million in loans and accounts held by the bank. The company’s phones don’t work, and officials haven’t responded to requests for comment. (Kansas City Business Journal)

New MetLife campus prompts questions about existing facility
MetLife will open a new office in Creve Coeur, stoking uncertainty about the future of the company’s existing facility in south St. Louis County, which is among the largest corporate campuses in the St. Louis area. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Surveillance system proposed to fight St. Louis crime
Persistent Surveillance Systems, a company that developed an aerial surveillance system to help military efforts abroad, wants to test its technology fighting crime in St. Louis. Some in the city say the plan presents privacy concerns. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Marriott plans hotel at $80 million Chesterfield development
An AC Hotels by Marriott property is scheduled to open in summer 2021 on the east end of WildHorse, an $80 million mixed-use development in Chesterfield. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Six of highest-paid St. Louis employees work for airport authority
Of the 30 highest-paid public employees in St. Louis, six work at the airport, earning a combined income of nearly $900,000 for 2019. Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, the airport director, is paid the most of all St. Louis public employees, with a 2019 salary of $212,108. (St. Louis Business Journal)

St. Louis 5th, KC 13th in ranking of Midwestern startup cities
M25, a Chicago-based venture capital firm, ranked St. Louis No. 5 and Kansas City No. 13 on its list of the 25 top startup cities in the Midwest. St. Louis fell one spot from last year, and Kansas City rose one position. (Startland News)

Plexpod rebrands women-led coworking concept
Plexpod, a Kansas City-based coworking space operator, will partner with InnovateHER KC, a membership group for women leaders, to offer new paid programming for women startup leaders. (Startland News).

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Today’s graphic offers another snapshot of Missouri’s energy profile. Since the turn of the century, transportation has consistently been at or near the top of energy consumption by sector in Missouri. Combined energy use across the four sectors peaked in 2007 and hit its lowest level in 2017.

Say that again

“Rural America just wants fairness and equity in the distribution of funds.”

That’s U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who announced a new rural infrastructure initiative at a St. Louis event Tuesday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Speaking to highway and transportation officials from around the country, Chao said federal officials will work to examine grant programs so that they “better support” rural areas under the new Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success, or ROUTES. She added that rural areas receive less funding for roads than urban areas yet account for a disproportionate rate of crash fatalities.

Go figure


That’s how much attendance dropped on Missouri’s Katy Trail this summer due to flooding along the Missouri River, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. About 187,000 people used the trail from January to August 2019, down from around 214,000 people for the same period last year, according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Businesses along the trail say the dip in traffic negatively impacted their sales as groups canceled reservations for tours and lodgings. Attendance dropped further along a 237-mile stretch in the middle of the trail which was covered by floodwater. The DNR reports that attendance on the trail dropped as much as 37% between Portland and Boonville.

Hello, my name is

Matthew Lue

The current finance director for Warrensburg will become Columbia’s new finance director, Columbia’s city manager announced Tuesday. Lue told the Columbia Missourian he hasn’t had a chance to formulate specific plans for his new role, but that maintaining the city’s credit rating will be a top priority. Lue, who has worked in both the private and public sector, will replace Janet Frazier, who has served as finance director on an interim basis since last September.

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


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