Missouri Minute: Blue Springs manufacturer to lay off 154; MoDOT chief to lead national group

Good morning, MBA readers,

It’s a dreary day for news of jobs in the state’s automotive manufacturing sector. The impasse between General Motors and the United Auto Workers continues, and some workers are feeling the financial pinch. In Blue Springs, a truck parts manufacturer has announced plans to close its plant next year and ship manufacturing to Mexico, laying off 154 workers in the process. In the telecommunications realm, T-Mobile and Sprint reached a settlement with Mississippi over the companies’ desired coupling, marking the first of 18 state settlements required for the merger to pass. Read on for all the essential business news from across the state.


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New group to promote St. Louis geospatial industry
Civic and academic leaders from St. Louis have announced the formation of GeoFutures, a task force to promote the city’s geospatial industry. It’s modeled after BioSTL, the group formed to ignite growth in the city’s biotech and plant sciences sector 20 years ago. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Manufacturer to lay off 154 in KC area, move jobs to Mexico
Haldex Brake Products, a truck parts manufacturer, will close its Blue Springs facility by December 2020 and move the jobs to Mexico, where costs are “significantly lower” than in the U.S., the company said. Layoffs will begin in December 2019. (WDAF)

GM workers worry about paying bills as strike continues
The $250 weekly strike pay isn’t cutting it for some United Auto Workers strikers as they continue the fourth week of their work stoppage. General Motors is also hurting, losing about $82 million each day. (Associated Press)

Sprint, T-Mobile reach settlement with Mississippi on merger
The telecommunications giants reached a settlement with Mississippi, which had sued to block their merger. Some analysts expect that the 17 other states suing to halt the union will follow in Mississippi’s footsteps. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Loop trolley attracts small crowds in first year of operation
St. Louis’ Loop Trolley system is missing revenue expectations by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Originally pegged to make about $428,000 in fares in 2019, the trolley, which opened a year ago, has generated about $32,500 in fares. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Webster Groves engineering firm acquires Houston-based company
Ross & Baruzzini will make its sixth acquisition in three years, purchasing Houston-based medical equipment consulting firm Genesis Planning. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Coltrane hires former R.F. Fisher employees
St. Louis-based electrical contractor Coltrane Systems has hired 19 employees laid off from R.F. Fisher, effectively opening a Kansas City office in the process. (Kansas City Business Journal)

‘Cannabus’ touring Missouri, offering medical marijuana certifications
A medical marijuana certification van is chugging across the state, stopping in cities and offering physician certifications — which are necessary to obtain medical marijuana ID cards — for $125. (KQFX)

MoDOT chief to lead national transportation group
Missouri Department of Transportation Director Patrick McKenna will start a term as the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ president for 2019-2020. The organization represents state departments of transportation. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Mozaic Group CEO pleads guilty to bank fraud
Mary Ann Gibson, CEO of the St. Louis market research firm, could face up to three years in prison after admitting Thursday to inflating the company’s finances to maintain a line of credit. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)


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As General Motors workers continue to strike and the effects are felt around plants in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas, today’s graphic story looks at auto manufacturing jobs in Missouri. All told, the state had about 11,500 workers in motor vehicle manufacturing as of last year. That was off significantly from a three-decade high of 20,000 in 1996.


Say that again

“It’s a very hard building to understand … You have to come down here and see it to understand how big and diverse we are.”

That’s developer Steve Foutch, who led the transformation of the former Kemper Arena in Kansas City, explaining why the rebranded venue has struggled to break even in its first year, The Kansas City Star reports. Since the city sold him the venue in 2017, Foutch has transformed it from a vast, single-use structure into one that can house dozens of different events each day. However, Foutch has struggled to sell the venue, now known as Hy-Vee Arena, as a place for concerts and corporate events. Still, he remains hopeful that the venture may be in the black a year from now as the pace is starting to pick up for future events.


Go figure

$3.8 billion

That’s the net worth of Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris, who recently came in at No. 207 on Forbes Magazine’s list of the 400 richest Americans. Morris, who started the company in the back of his father’s Springfield liquor store in 1972, scored nine out of 10 on the list’s “self-made” score.


Hello, my name is

Nexus Group

The Jefferson City-based lobbying firm is working with one of the major contenders looking to lease St. Louis Lambert International Airport, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. Los Angeles-based Oaktree Capital Management has added four Nexus lawyers to its STL Aviation Group: Rodney Boyd, Kate Casas, Brian Grace and Kelvin Simmons. Oaktree also employs Jeff Rainford, former chief of staff to ex-St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. The former mayor, meanwhile, is representing a Spanish firm that is interested in bidding for the airport. Oaktree and its competitors have until Nov. 1 to submit their qualifications to lease the airport.


It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning. The weekend is almost here; make it a great one.


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