Missouri Minute: Ascension, Google partner on data project; KC Ford workers approve labor deal

Good morning, MBA readers,

Despite borrowing its name from a storied health care reformer, a new initiative from tech giant Google and St. Louis-based hospital operator Ascension is raising questions from the companies’ own employees over its ethics and secrecy. The so-called “Project Nightingale” reportedly started in secret last year, marking the largest effort by Silicon Valley to gain access to patients’ medical data through cloud computing services. Shortly after The Wall Street Journal broke the news of Nightingale on Monday, the companies issued an announcement about the partnership and asserted that their collaboration is compliant with federal health laws. Scroll down to learn more about this story and others from around the state.

Want Missouri’s top business news in your inbox? Subscribe here.

Stay alert

Ascension inks deal sharing health care data with Google
The St. Louis-based nonprofit health care system has agreed to share data including lab results, hospitalization records and more as part of a cloud computing deal with Google, the companies announced Monday. The announcement quickly followed The Wall Street Journal’s reporting on “Project Nightingale,” a secret initiative through which Ascension has shared data with Google since last year. (Wall Street Journal)

Boeing plans to get grounded jets flying by December
Boeing announced Monday that it hopes to resume deliveries of its 737 Max jet to airlines by December. The move comes just days after Southwest and American airlines extended their cancellation of 737 Max flights through early March. The new timetable would allow Boeing to generate cash by delivering planes even before the Federal Aviation Administration approves the new training regimen for Max pilots. (Associated Press)

T-Mobile CEO reportedly in talks to lead WeWork
Sources say WeWork is in talks with T-Mobile CEO John Legere to potentially replace its co-founder Adam Neumann, whose tenure ended last month after the company’s failed attempt to go public. While WeWork hopes to find a new leader by January, there is no guarantee that Legere, who stands to earn a windfall if T-Mobile completes its takeover of Sprint, will take the job. (Wall Street Journal)

KC Ford workers approve new labor deal
Members of United Auto Workers Local 249 approved a tentative deal reached between the UAW and Ford Motor earlier this month. As part of the new agreement, Ford has pledged to invest $400 million in the Claycomo plant, which would bring the assembly of a new F-150 pickup truck to the area. (Kansas City Business Journal)

U.S. Steel lays off non-union workers near St. Louis
An undisclosed number of non-union workers have been laid off from the U.S. Steel plant in Granite City, Illinois. The company cited “challenging market conditions.” U.S. Steel, which brought back 800 jobs to the area after U.S. tariffs were imposed on imported steel last year, announced a savings plan last month that could save the company $200 million by 2022. (Belleville News-Democrat)

Local groups partner to push for public vote on Lambert privatization
A group called STL Not for Sale and the union rights group Jobs for Justice have joined forces to promote a ballot initiative requiring any airport lease agreement to go to a public vote. STL Not for Sale also plans to host a town hall on Thursday. (St. Louis Public Radio)

National mortgage lender opens first St. Louis offices
Wisconsin-based Waterstone Mortgage has opened two offices in the St. Louis area led by local banker Abraham Rezex. Waterstone had over $2.6 billion in loan obligations last year. (St. Louis Business Journal)

St. Charles logistics firm expands in Florida
Milestone Equipment Holdings has acquired a trailer leasing office in Jacksonville, Florida, as part of a larger strategy to expand in the Southeast. The company, which reported nearly $212 million in 2018 revenue, has expanded to several new locations already this year, including a branch office in Orlando, Florida. (St. Louis Business Journal)

S&T leader presents ambitious goals for campus
Mo Dehghani, who has led the Missouri University of Science and Technology for 100 days, has laid out new plans to grow the school, including strengthening ties with the U.S. Army with a research building on campus. Dehghani’s goals include boosting enrollment from 8,000 to 12,000, but he has not provided specifics on how new projects would be funded. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Missouri fines firm over lead emissions
The Doe Run Co., which runs a lead battery recycling facility in Boss, Missouri, must pay a $1.2 million fine after state inspectors discovered dozens of environmental violations. The fine, which Doe Run will pay in $400,000 increments each year, is one of the largest monetary penalties the Department of Natural Resources has issued in the last five years. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Branson’s Moon River Theatre hits the market
The theater made famous by the late singer Andy Williams is now for sale. Also known as the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center & Theatre, the venue has attracted interest from hotel developers and an out-of-town theater operator, according to a listing agent. (Springfield Business Journal)

Say that again

“I mean if we have to cut all politics out of art or theater, we’d have nothing. You know, we’re just advocating for awareness and consideration of the situation, and the topic, that’s all we’re trying to do.”

That’s John Rensenhouse, actor and director in Theatre Alliance Kansas City. The theater association is working to address climate change as part of an international initiative of short plays called Climate Change Theatre Action, KCUR reports. Theaters and art centers across the country, such as Kansas City’s outdoor Starlight Theatre, are exploring new ways to deal with issues such as extreme heat and flooding, as well as raise awareness of such issues through performance. For Starlight Theatre, which is grappling with the issue of excessive heat, this has meant the installation of four mega-fans.

Go figure


That’s about how much state funding for higher education per college student in Missouri has dropped since 2001, KBIA reports. University of Missouri tuition is more than double the cost it was 20 years ago. But while tuition costs have risen, state aid has stayed static. For low-income students, this lack of aid plus higher enrollment may mean fewer opportunities. Bradley Curs, an MU professor of higher education, said there are “two classes of students: those that have the money and engage and can live close to campus, and those that don’t have the money. They’re having to work off campus, but they also have to live further from campus, and just have less time to get everything done.”

Hello, my name is


This St. Louis-based startup is aiming to become the “Uber of used car sales”, according to the St. Louis Business Journal. Co-founded by Rocky Hauhe, the owner of Missouri car dealership Pinnacle Automotive Gallery, and local entrepreneur Randy Wild, the app is built for people looking to buy used cars, including buyers with little prior experience purchasing cars. It allows buyers to send a so-called “R8TR,” to inspect a car and rate it for a fee. The minimum is typically around $80, Hauhe said. It’s an attempt to help mitigate the risk of used-car buyers being scammed or sold cars with hidden defects.

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


Leave a Reply

Have you heard?

Missouri Business Alert is participating in CoMoGives2019!

Find out how we plan to use your gift to enhance training and programming for our students