Missouri Minute: WeWork to lay off 4,000; GM offers $1.5 billion Wentzville investment

Good morning, MBA readers,

As it nears what could be the end of a contentious contract negotiation, General Motors has added a $1.5 billion cherry on top for Missouri: promises of investment at its Wentzville plant that will bring new manufacturing. Elsewhere in the St. Louis area, another union is demanding better wages as 2,100 janitors get ready for their own contract talks. And up to 1,000 janitors could be laid off at WeWork as the office-sharing startup cuts jobs worldwide. Scroll down to learn more about these and other top business stories affecting Missouri.


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GM to invest $1.5 billion in Wentzville plant if contract approved
General Motors has promised to invest $1.5 billion in the company’s assembly plant in Wentzville if United Auto Workers members vote to approve a tentative contract agreement, ending the union’s five-week labor strike. With new upgrades, the Wentzville facility would make the “next generation” of GM’s midsize trucks, according to company documents. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

WeWork to lay off 4,000 staff
Office-sharing startup WeWork plans to cut as many as 4,000 jobs — roughly a third of its global — after Japan’s SoftBank Group agreed to take over the company for more than $10 billion. About 1,000 of the cuts will hit janitors and other staff globally, potentially affecting WeWork’s operations in Kansas City and St. Louis. (Reuters)

Missouri joins 47-state investigation of Facebook
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced this week that his office will join a coalition of 46 other states investigating Facebook for antitrust violations. Schmitt’s office said Missouri’s investigation will review Facebook’s businesses to “see if they’ve engaged in anti-competitive behavior or if it leads down another path.” (Columbia Missourian)

Hyperloop panel will present findings next week
The Blue Ribbon Panel on Hyperloop will release its findings on the implementation of the Virgin Hyperloop in Missouri in a report Monday. The bipartisan group will also host events across the state to highlight its findings. (Kansas City Business Journal)

KC firm’s new HQ will be the city’s most expensive office rent
Waddell & Reed expects to pay at least $40 per square foot to move to a new 250,000-square-foot space in downtown Kansas City. That’s well above the city’s average asking price of roughly $21.73 per square foot. (Kansas City Star)

Court issues $500 million judgment against bankrupt Missouri firm
A federal court has awarded a $500 million judgment against Xceligent, a Blue Springs-based company that filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2017, in a copyright lawsuit filed by Washington D.C.’s CoStar Group. The judgment includes damages of $50,000 per violation of CoStar’s copyrighted photographs used by Xceligent. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Morningstar downgrades Missouri college-savings program
Ratings agency Morningstar has downgraded the Missouri MOST 529 tax-advantaged college savings plan from a silver rating to bronze. Morningstar, which has not explained its reasoning for the downgrade, said plans with bronze ratings are still considered to follow industry best practices. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Janitors union rallies in St. Louis ahead of wage negotiation
The Service Employees International Union marched at the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis Wednesday, demanding a $15 minimum wage. The rally comes ahead of contract negotiations affecting more than 2,100 janitors, which begins next week. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

KC-area hospital plans $15.5 million expansion
Belton Regional Medical Center is planning a $15.5 million expansion, which would double the size of its intensive care unit and add a 12,000-square-foot floor above its existing emergency department. The 71-bed acute care hospital, which has grown from 48 staffed beds in 2018, expects to begin construction in the spring and open the new ICU a year later. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Boston real estate firm deepens St. Louis holdings with latest buy
STAG Industrial, a Boston-based real estate investment firm that specializes in industrial properties, has acquired a roughly 127,000-square-foot distribution center in Fenton for an undisclosed sum. (St. Louis Business Journal)

MU researcher receives $3.7 million federal grant
Diana Gil Pagés, an associate professor at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, has received a $3.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to further her research on immunotherapy and advanced cancer treatments. (Columbia Missourian)


Say that again

“Feral hogs weren’t a problem (in Missouri) 10 years ago, we just had a little problem. Well, is this going to become the next feral hog issue in the state.”

That’s Rep. Dan Shaul, R-Imperial, the chair of the Missouri House Special Interim Committee on Gaming. He compared the state’s feral hog problem to the challenge posed by gaming machines in gas stations and convenience stores across the state, Missourinet reports. As wild hogs shred through crops and damage the Missouri countryside, lawmakers have come to little consensus on how to deal with them in an orderly fashion due to conflicts between landowners and the Department of Conservation. Shaul worries the same will happen with the slot machines, maintaining that competing interests will likely lead to the issue landing at the Missouri Supreme Court.


Go figure

53%

That’s how much Boeing’s earnings in the third quarter decreased from the same period last year, Reuters reports. The company has grounded its 737 Max airliners in the wake of two deadly crashes but said Wednesday it expects to receive U.S. regulatory approval in the fourth quarter to begin flying the planes again. Company officials said Boeing could consider cutting 737 Max production if the plane does not receive the regulatory greenlight this year.


Send tweet

This is what Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, posted on Twitter Wednesday in response to a Washington Post op-ed entitled “The White House didn’t like my agency’s research. So it sent us to Missouri.” The op-ed offers a former federal employee’s perspective on why two U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies were transplanted to Kansas City. The author alleged that the agriculture secretary didn’t actually want the researchers to move to Kansas City, but rather wanted them to quit. Hawley has introduced the HIRE bill, which would relocate 90% of federal agency jobs from Washington to economically distressed regions across the U.S.


Hello, my name is

Garage Mahal

That’s what two environmental scientists, Chris Cady and Carl Orazio, are calling the garage where they’re storing all the fallen trees they’ve gathered since a devastating tornado hit Jefferson City in May, the Columbia Missourian reports. In an act of service, the two went around collecting all the fallen trees they could find, removing them from people’s property for free because insurance companies only pay to remove logs that cause damage. The two are turning the trees into furniture instead of disposing of them, which they said helps reduce carbon emissions.


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


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