Missouri Minute: Cerner acquires health IT firm; Ameren to install electric car chargers

Good morning, MBA readers,

The eviction saga surrounding the Kansas City T-Bones minor league baseball team has come to a close. Under the management of a new ownership group, Max Fun LLC, the T-Bones will get to stay in their stadium, with the hope that the new ownership group and a plan for year-round activities at the ballpark will make the venue profitable. In other news of organizations making big pivots, a Boston startup that recently graduated from the Ameren Accelerator is staying in Missouri to research whether its technology, which was originally envisioned for use in energy extraction, can be used to break concrete for construction purposes. Scroll down to start your week by learning more about these and other top business stories from around the state.


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Cerner acquires Washington health IT firm
North Kansas City-based Cerner has announced its acquisition of Washington, D.C.-based AbleVets as a wholly owned subsidiary. The purchase boosts Cerner’s capability to handle federal projects for the Department of Defense and other agencies. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Ameren to spend $11 million on new electric car chargers for Missouri
The Public Service Commission has approved an Ameren Missouri plan to install 11 electric vehicle charging stations across the state next year with the hopes of financing more. The company also plans to offer financial support for local businesses and other public areas to add charging stations, potentially adding as many as 1,000 across the state. (St. Louis Business Journal)

St. Louis plastics maker sells to private equity firm
Maryland Heights-based Spartech has sold for an undisclosed amount to Rhode Island’s Nautic Partners in partnership with Spartech management. Spartech’s previous owner, private equity firm Arsenal Capital Partners, paid $115 million for the structures and solutions segment of Spartech in mid-2017. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Missouri blocks Medicaid payments to scammer
Missouri officials have prevented over $2 million in payments to a company that attempted to scam the state’s Medicaid program. The amount of blocked payments could be higher as Gov. Mike Parson’s administration continues to investigate out-of-state labs and marketing companies that sought to be reimbursed for fraudulent genetic tests done mainly on senior citizens. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Counties enter St. Louis airport privatization debate
The leaders of St. Louis and St. Charles counties are backing a move to explore regional governance of St. Louis Lambert International Airport as city officials weigh private management of the airport. In a statement issued Friday, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page called the airport a “regional asset” that could warrant regional governance. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

KC economic agency launches startup bootcamp for women, minority entrepreneurs
The Economic Development Corp. of Kansas City has launched a six-month startup bootcamp catering to women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color. The program covers funding, talent placement, in-demand technology and other topics. (Kansas City Business Journal)

St. Louis aldermen advance subsidies for McKee hospital development
St. Louis aldermen have authorized up to $6.4 million in tax increment financing for a health care development backed by Paul McKee’s NorthSide Regeneration. The bill also includes $1.6 million in financing for another phase to boost the development to 103,000 square feet and add other medical facilities. (St. Louis Business Journal)

As home prices soar in Columbia, city moves to keep homeownership affordable
The sale of homes worth $400,000 or more in the Columbia school district jumped 49% between 2016 and 2018. The city of Columbia has set aside more than $5 million for affordable housing programs aimed at mitigating the rising cost of home ownership. (Columbia Missourian)

Kansas City Star names new president as publisher departs
The Kansas City Star has named longtime editor Mike Fannin as its new president. Star Publisher Tony Berg will become publisher of The Wichita Eagle in Kansas. The move comes amid corporate reshuffling at The McClatchy Co., which owns both The Star and The Eagle. (KCUR)


Say that again

“Kansas City might be the biggest city in America that hasn’t figured out how to embrace its big river system. We’re never going to have a mountain or an ocean in Kansas City, but we’ve got rivers. It’s time to figure out how to use them.”

That’s developer Michael Zeller, whose company Flying Truss plans to turn an abandoned bridge in Kansas City, Kansas, into an entertainment and recreation venue, The Kansas City Star reports. Zeller and his firm are part of a local push for increased riverfront development to make Kansas City a hub for activity along the Kansas River. Proponents say that these developments could allow Kansas City to compete economically with nearby riverfront cities like Oklahoma City and Wichita, which have invested heavily in their riverfront development in recent years. Even some skeptical locals say they are convinced of Zeller’s vision after an open house on the bridge last week.


Go figure

100%

That’s how confident the CEO of Eden GeoTech is that his startup’s electric fracturing technology can be used to break concrete, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The Boston-born company recently completed the 12-week Ameren Accelerator in St. Louis. During the program, Eden CEO Paris Smalls met with a city official who suggested the startup’s technology, which uses electricity to break apart rocks during natural gas extraction, could be applied to the construction industry. That conversation took Smalls to the Missouri University of Science and Technology, where Eden will conduct trials on this new market for its equipment. “There’s a 100% chance that you can break concrete with electricity,” Smalls said.


Hello, my name is

Max Fun
That’s the group taking over the Kansas City T-Bones under a new ownership agreement passed late Thursday, The Kansas City Star reports. The deal allows the team, which the city evicted from its stadium just days earlier, to stay under new management, pending approval from the American Association of Professional Baseball. Local government and Max Fun will pay at least $1 million and $500,000, respectively, for upgrades to T-Bones Ballpark. Both the new owners and city officials hope the upgrades will turn the stadium into a year-round venue with a range of games and activities on the field, including ice skating and hockey in the offseason.


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


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