Missouri Minute: Casey’s plans Joplin distribution center; T-Mobile CEO to step down

Good morning, MBA readers,

Catholic school enrollment in the St. Louis area is declining, and school administrators are taking notice. Nearly 1,000 Catholic schools have closed across the country over the last decade, and in St. Louis schools are contending with lower birth and baptism rates, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. That’s left officials scrambling to compete with public schools, adding new scholarships and outreach programs to stave off enrollment declines. Scroll down to read more about this story and other top business news from around the state.


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WeWork to lay off thousands
The beleaguered coworking company plans to cut at least 4,000 jobs as an austerity measure in the face of mounting losses, sources say. WeWork, which accrued billions in debt, has two office spaces in Kansas City and one in St. Louis. (New York Times)

Ex-Monsanto employee accused of stealing trade secrets
Officials say Haitao Xiang, 42, was detained while boarding a flight to China from Chicago, with proprietary Monsanto software in hand. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

New distribution center promises 125 jobs in Joplin
Casey’s General Stores plans to invest about $40 million in a new distribution center in Joplin. The facility, which is expected to create about 125 new jobs, will initially serve between 400 and 600 of the company’s stores throughout the Midwest and the South. (Missourinet)

Energizer scouts new factory in Indiana
The St. Louis-based batter maker is looking to build a new packaging and distribution center in Indiana that could employ 440 workers. Energizer is asking local officials for about $7.5 million of tax breaks. (Associated Press)

Companies sue St. Louis, airport over loss of minority contractor status
Four companies whose owners claim Native American ancestry have sued St. Louis, its airport authority and officials, claiming that the firms were improperly decertified as minority contractors. The lawsuit, filed Thursday, seeks monetary damage and a judge’s order to reverse the city’s decision. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Wash U kicks in $250,000 to back Medicaid expansion
Washington University has cut a $250,000 check to Missourians for Healthcare, a group that is collecting signatures to put Medicaid expansion on the ballot in 2020. The donation, which came from the School of Medicine, follows a joint letter from Chancellor Andrew Martin and David Perlmutter, dean of the School of Medicine, endorsing the ballot initiative. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

St. Louis breweries land on best-of-decade list
Three St. Louis-area craft breweries — Urban Chestnut Brewing, Perennial Artisan Ales and Side Project Brewing — were recognized in Paste Magazine’s “50 Best American Breweries of the 2010s” list. The rating considered factors like consistency, innovation and importance to the local beer community. (Paste Magazine)


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The World Trade Organization announced Monday that global merchandise trade is expected to grow at a slower pace than usual for the fourth quarter of 2019, hampered by trade tensions and tariffs. Today’s graphic offers a snapshot of the impact global trade has in Missouri, looking at the state’s top sources of imports in 2018.


Say that again

“When we shotgun and do all over the place, you don’t feel the impact. But just by standing on this corner, people see new businesses, new jobs being created and they think there’s hope.”

That’s developer Don Maxwell, who said he’s intentionally focused his efforts on building new businesses in the heart of Kansas City’s black community, The Kansas City Star reports. In 2016, Maxwell sold a shopping center on the west side of Prospect Avenue, finally allowing a grocery store to enter the area. Now, he’s fixing up a strip mall across the street, with plans for office and residential development along Prospect. Such projects demonstrate how financial backing has breathed new life into the corridor, said Marquita Taylor, a Prospect Avenue resident and president of the Santa Fe Area Council. Collectively, Kansas City agencies have spent $150 million over the last five years on projects aimed at redeveloping the area. Taylor credits the city and said residents of the historically black neighborhoods along Prospect have generally welcomed new development.


Go figure

22%

That’s how much Catholic high school enrollment in St. Louis has declined over the last decade, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The trend mirrors a national phenomenon that has Catholic educators worried: nearly 1,000 Catholic schools have shuttered nationwide since 2009. Experts say rising tuition is the top factor in the decline. Many Catholic schools in the St. Louis area charge more than the University of Missouri’s $12,000 annual tuition. At the same time, Catholic school officials say their budgets for financial aid have also grown. Many schools have also invested heavily in admissions and marketing departments, hoping to reach non-Catholic students from public schools.


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— John Legere (@JohnLegere) November 18, 2019
That’s John Legere, T-Mobile’s magenta-loving CEO, who announced Monday that he will step down May 1. He’ll be replaced by President and COO Mike Sievert, who has been expected to succeed Legere once T-Mobile’s merger with Overland Park, Kansas-based Sprint is completed. The $26 billion merger has cleared regulatory hurdles but still faces a lawsuit by state attorneys general looking to stop the deal. While Legere did not post his next steps, his announcement closely follows reports last week that he may take the top job at WeWork. In a Monday conference call, however, Legere denied that he was ever in talks to be WeWork’s new CEO.


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Incredible Pizza

The Springfield-based attraction and restaurant chain is entering the Kansas City market while expanding its existing foothold in Texas, the Springfield Business Journal reports. Incredible Pizza has acquired a 73,000-square-foot building in Shawnee, Kansas, and plans to spend $4 million renovating the building. The company expects to open the new location by February 2020. It also purchased 73,000 square feet of new space in a former Kmart in San Antonio for $7 million.


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