Missouri Minute: St. Louis firm, clients plan to sue TitleMax; Hawley calls out NBA

Good morning, MBA readers,

Hide your pocketbooks, make amends and pay your debts, because everyone’s getting sued, and at the rate it’s going, you might be next. Just kidding. But the courts have been busy this week, as St. Louis-based Onder Law has gathered 850 clients to sue TitleMax, while the U.S. Supreme Court struck down any chances the Rams may have had to avoid facing trial for their Los Angeles relocation. For something less litigious, both this week’s Speaking Startup podcast and a new report from the KC Tech Council address a pressing issue for many communities across the state: attracting and retaining a skilled workforce. Read on for those stories and more.

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Revitalizing rural Missouri through entrepreneurship

As Sandy Allison looks to build up the business communities of small towns in mid-Missouri, she focuses on unique local assets. “Each town is a diamond in the rough for somebody to find and work with,” said Allison, the executive director of the Marshall-Saline Development Corporation. This week’s episode of the Speaking Startup podcast features a conversation with Allison, offering a sneak peek at our forthcoming project on entrepreneurship in Marshall.

Stay alert

St. Louis law firm and 850 clients plan to sue TitleMax
Onder Law in St. Louis and its 850 clients plan to refile 10 lawsuits against car title lender TitleMax, claiming the company has operated without a title lending license. Although the clients would prefer to consolidate the cases into a single class-action, they are barred from doing so by TitleMax contracts. (St. Louis Business Journal)

U.S. Supreme Court rejects Rams request to avoid trial in relocation case
The U.S. Supreme Court this week sided against the Los Angeles Rams, allowing for a trial in St. Louis’ relocation lawsuit against the team. The Rams had asked the court to stop enforcement of an earlier ruling by the Missouri Supreme Court, which barred the team from settling the case in arbitration. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Lack of clarity prompts KC TIF commission to again delay luxury hotel incentives
The Tax Increment Financing Commission of Kansas City has again delayed a substantial incentive package for a $63 million luxury hotel planned for near the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. A presentation Wednesday by the development team, led by Cushman & Wakefield, created little clarity on the city’s participation in the project. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Desco Group sues Wentzville to block Kroenke-backed special sales tax
The Desco Group, which owns a shopping center in the heart of Wentzville, has sued the city, claiming it was not given enough notice before the city formed a community improvement district that levies a new 1% sales tax. The district is backed by developer and Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke through his associates. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Court affirms Missouri firm’s $17.4 million judgment
An appeals court has affirmed a bench verdict for 4SEMO.com, which won a $17.4 million judgment against a national storm-shelter manufacturer for willful trademark infringement. (Reuters)

St. Louis County partially withholds Bi-State funding until transit security is improved
The St. Louis County Council voted 6-1 Tuesday to send the Bi-State Development Agency about two-thirds of the $164 million in requested funding. The council is withholding about $60 million of the agency’s budget until it sees an updated transit safety plan from Bi-State. (St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis Port Authority to seek proposals for Clayton properties
The St. Louis County Port Authority plans to issue requests for proposals for three downtown Clayton properties that could be worth a combined $25 million. The Port Authority hopes to have offers by December to help alleviate a tight county budget. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

KC company bids for struggling rural hospital
Rural Hospital Group, which turns around financially distressed hospitals, has offered to purchase Hillsboro Community Hospital in rural Kansas for $6.9 million. The hospital was placed in receivership in January and then Chapter 11 bankruptcy after its previous owner defaulted on financial obligations. (KCUR)

New administrator to oversee $5.6 million art project at new KCI terminal
The city of Kansas City has hired consultant and curator James Martin as its new public art administrator. Martin, who will begin his new post Oct. 21, will oversee the $5.6 million art budget — the city’s largest public art project yet— at the new $1.5 billion single terminal at Kansas City International Airport. (KCUR)

St. Louis hires contractors to be ‘stewards’ of vacant land
The city of St. Louis has hired five small businesses as part of a new pilot program that pays private crews to maintain vacant lots across the city. Crews have tended to about 300 of 8,000 vacant lots in the city this year, totaling 30 acres under stewardship. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Crew breaks ground on $17.2 million Hilton in Springfield
A Tulsa-based hotel developer broke ground on a $17.2 million Homewood Suites by Hilton in south Springfield. The 122-room hotel is slated for completion in November 2020. (Springfield Business Journal)

Say that again

“The biggest problem facing KC’s tech industry is the lack of a skilled workforce. We share this problem with the entire country.”

That’s Ryan Weber, CEO of the KC Tech Council, writing in the group’s third annual KC Tech Specs report. Kansas City has experienced “brain gain,” meaning the city has drawn skilled tech workers from other places to compensate for a deficit of such workers locally. But the city still needs more tech talent, the Tech Council says. Despite facing a shortage of talent, the tech industry in Kansas City contributed roughly $12 billion — or about 10% — to the local economy in 2018, according to the report.

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Attempts at Twitter diplomacy ensued after the NBA condemned Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey’s weekend statement in support of the protests in Hong Kong. A number of congressional representatives, including Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, took to the platform to share their disgust with China’s handling of Hong Kong and the NBA’s response to it. Missouri’s junior senator also released a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver calling on the executive to “remember that some things are more important than money.”

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Atlas Air

St. Louis Lambert International Airport’s newest cargo airline will come to St. Louis on Oct. 17, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. The deal was made last week in an attempt to increase cargo revenue at Lambert and will allow the airport to profit off of charges for space and baggage handling system usage; landing fees based on the airline’s monthly landed weight; and fees for parking, utilities and other charges. Two other cargo airlines arrived at Lambert last month — Arkansas-based Air Transport International and Ohio-based ABX Air.

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


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