Missouri Minute: Century-old KC insurance group acquired; St. Louis hotel market heats up

Good morning, MBA readers,

Is an influx of new hotels making it harder for old ones to survive in St. Louis? That’s the position of Saint Louis University, which has put its 49-room Hotel Ignacio on the market, citing “increasing hotel capacity” in the area. And who could blame them? St. Louis is experiencing a hospitality rush, with 13 hotels and over 1,000 rooms currently being planned or built in the city. With that hot hotel market in its own hometown, Midas Hospitality has marked Milwaukee as a new growth market. Last week, the St. Louis-based hotel investor made its entrance in Wisconsin’s biggest city with an eight-digit purchase. Scroll down to catch up on these and other stories as you prepare for Thanksgiving week.

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Monsanto pleads guilty to illegal pesticide use in Hawaii
Creve Coeur-based Monsanto will pay $10 million for spraying a banned pesticide on research crops on a Hawaiian island in 2014. Prosecutors have agreed not to prosecute the company if it abides by the agreement. (Associated Press)

Judge rules states can keep their attorney in Sprint, T-Mobile lawsuit
A federal judge ruled that the U.S. Department of Justice waited too long to try and disqualify attorney Glenn Pomerantz, who had represented the department in 2011 when it stopped AT&T’s purchase of T-Mobile. Pomerantz and his firm, Munger, Tolles & Olson, represent the state of California in the 15-state lawsuit to block Sprint and T-Mobile’s merger. (Reuters)

Insurance giant buys 109-year-old independent broker in KC
Thomas McGee Group, which employs close to 100 people in Kansas City and St. Louis, has sold to Boston-based Risk Strategies for an undisclosed amount. The independent insurance broker had $200 million in premium volume last year and would give Risk Strategies, which underwrote over $4 billion in 2018 premiums, a new platform in the Midwest. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Midas expands hotel portfolio with Milwaukee purchase
St. Louis-based Midas Hospitality has purchased the 160-room Aloft Hotel in the heart of downtown Milwaukee for $26.5 million. The move follows a June report to Midas investors, which called Milwaukee the next growth market for its Midas Hotel Fund. (Milwaukee Business Journal)

St. Louis Metro to spend $18.6 million on electric buses
The St. Louis Metro Transit board has approved a plan to buy 14 new electric buses for up to $18.6 million. The purchase, paid for in large part by a federal grant, marks the city’s first major commitment to electric vehicles and gives the city a fleet of electric vehicles comparable in size to cities like Chicago. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Proposal would ban criminal history questions for St. Louis job seekers
The St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Friday began debate on a bill that would bar local employers from asking job applicants about their criminal history. Part of a national movement, the proposal is intended to give people “a second chance and expanded employment opportunities,” said Alderman John Collins-Muhammad, who sponsored the bill. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

UMB acquires Commerce Trust’s corporate division
Kansas City-based UMB Bank has agreed to acquire the corporate trust business of Commerce Trust Co. for an undisclosed sum. The team, which administers corporate and municipal bonds, had fewer than 10 people and affected minimal financial contribution to Commerce, the company said. (Kansas City Business Journal)

After delays, historic green apartment project in KC set for 2020 opening
Second + Delaware, a $90 million apartment project, is slated to open next year after several delays since its inception in 2016. The 276-unit apartment complex was designed to be the largest structure in the world to achieve Passive House energy efficiency standards. (Kansas City Business Journal)

SLU puts midtown hotel on the market
Saint Louis University plans to sell Hotel Ignacio, a 49-room establishment that employs 15 people near the university’s main campus. University officials cited an increase of hotels in the area and a lack of funds required to keep the hotel competitive in that environment. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Show me

As travelers gear up to hit the road in droves for Thanksgiving, today’s graphic offers another look at the condition of Missouri’s transportation infrastructure. Most state bridges are in fair condition, but the percentage of those in poor condition has increased in recent years. It was 8.7% last year, up from 8.2% in 2014.

Say that again

“Health care costs in Missouri and around the country are completely out of control. I’m proud to sponsor this legislation to bring down health care costs for families while maintaining our commitment to providing affordable care to those with pre-existing conditions.”

That’s U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, who announced Friday that he’s backing a new bill aimed at addressing high-cost health care claims, St. Louis Public Radio reports. The Premium Reduction Act of 2019, authored by Maine Sen. Susan Collins, would provide federal funds for states to create reinsurance programs to cover high-cost claims. The goal of the bill is to make insurance companies less reliant on increasing premiums for people with expensive pre-existing conditions. The bill has the backing of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Go figure

$6 million

That’s how much Stackify, a software company based in the Kansas City area, has raised in a recent round of financing, Startland News reports. Stackify founder and CEO Matt Watson said the recent raise, which included investment from Dallas-based Cypress Group Capital, was a mix of debt and equity. The funds, which follow a $2.74 million capital injection in January, are expected to help Stackify double its staff in 2020. According to Watson, the company is in a “weird stage” where it’s not quite big enough for venture funding but is too big for seed investing. Stackify, which makes tools to help software developers monitor the performance of their applications, was 379th on Inc. magazine’s list of the country’s fastest-growing private companies released in August.

Send tweet

— Mayor Quinton Lucas (@MayorLucasKC) November 22, 2019
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas’ tweet follows Troy Schulte’s official resignation Friday as city manager of Kansas City, about three months ahead of his initially planned retirement. An acting city manager will replace Schulte after Thanksgiving. Schulte is expected to take a job just across the street from City Hall as the new Jackson County administrator. He would report to Jackson County Executive Frank White, who has clashed with county legislators over issues ranging from the county jail to property reassessments, according to The Kansas City Star. Schulte told The Star that he would undertake some “sizable projects” but views the Jackson County job as a short-term one.

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


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