Missouri Minute: Hedge fund urges Emerson split; auditor warns of state’s recession preparation

Good morning, MBA readers,

The economy keeps chugging along, like the St. Louis Loop Trolley, but for how long until it derails? Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway warned lawmakers Tuesday that the state is “woefully” unprepared for a recession. She suggested the allocation of more money into Missouri’s reserve fund could help provide cushion for when the next recession hits. In the St. Louis region, officials are bracing for the possibility that the struggling Loop Trolley will become insolvent. Heavily subsidized by federal transportation money, the trolley may need to pay the government back if it halts operations. As for you, well-prepared Minutes reader? You should keep clattering down these tracks to get all the day’s top business news.


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Hedge fund urges Emerson board to break up company
Activist investment fund D.E. Shaw sent a letter Tuesday calling on Emerson directors and executives to break up the Ferguson-based conglomerate, saying management “let shareholders down.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

If St. Louis Loop Trolley goes under, government may want its money back
The federal government covered roughly two-thirds of the $51.5 million cost of the St. Louis Loop Trolley. If the trolley ceases operations, the government will likely ask for some of that money back, an area transportation official said. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Missouri appeals court reverses $110 million Johnson & Johnson verdict
The ruling overturns a 2017 judgment in favor of the plaintiff, who claimed she developed ovarian cancer due to decades of use of the talc-based baby powder for feminine hygiene. (Reuters)

Missouri to address vaping through education campaign
Instead of banning the sale of vaping devices like some other states have done, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced a new public education campaign to halt e-cigarette use. (KCUR)

Anheuser-Busch foundation to continue sponsoring presidential debates
The foundation, which has donated since 1996 to support national presidential debates, announced Tuesday that it will continue its sponsorship. (St. Louis-Post Dispatch)

Former KC Kmart to be renovated into restaurant, retail space
A Kansas City investment group has purchased a former Kmart north of the Missouri River, and realtor Block & Company plans to fill the shopping center with entertainment, retail, restaurant and hotel tenants. (Kansas City Star)

DESCO Group drops lawsuit against Kroenke-affiliated CID, allowing it to move forward
DESCO Group dropped its lawsuit against a community improvement district in Wentzville with ties to developer Stan Kroenke. The district, where DESCO Group owns property, will levy a 1% sales tax to subsidize the development of a new retail and recreation center. DESCO had alleged it did not receive proper notice of a hearing about an ordinance to create the CID. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Kansas City homeowners say local contractor ripped them off
Two Kansas City couples say they were defrauded by Telos Contracting, claiming they paid for renovations with their life savings only for the construction company to steal their windows, plumbing and wiring, amounting to tens of thousands of dollars of losses. (KSHB)


Say that again

“Missouri is woefully unprepared for an economic downturn.”

That’s Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in the 2020 election. Galloway on Tuesday urged lawmakers to increase the amount in Missouri’s Budget Reserve Fund, the Associated Press reports. State law currently limits the reserve fund to 7.5% of net general revenue. Galloway said without cutting spending or raising taxes, the state would need $1.3 billion in reserve to survive a moderate recession; Missouri started the fiscal year with $642 million in the fund.


Show me

Today’s graphic compares the time it takes to travel across Missouri via different modes of transportation — both extant and envisioned. Transportation technology firm Virgin Hyperloop One made stops in Columbia and St. Louis this month to promote the tube-based transit system it’s developing, which the company says could carry passenger pods at speeds of up to 670 miles per hour.


Go figure

10 cents

That’s how much shoppers in Edwardsville, Illinois, will need to cough up if they forget their reusable grocery bag, the Belleville News-Democrat reports. The city council voted to make Edwardsville the first city in the St. Louis area to adopt a fee for single-use plastic and paper grocery bags. Such fees have been implemented in other towns and cities across the country. The ordinance takes effect next April.


Hello, my name is

UN&UP

The St. Louis-based life sciences startup has won National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation and Research grants at a rate unmatched by any other Missouri company, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. With a name short for “Unmet Needs and Underserved Populations,” the two-employee company, launched in 2018, has visions of becoming an “innovation empire,” planning to create robotic systems for neurology and cardiology procedures and drug-delivery technologies to treat brain trauma and tumors.


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


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