Missouri Minute: Burns & McDonnell adds new consulting arm; Boeing says 737 Max cuts possible

Good morning, MBA readers,

The housing market, especially for first-time buyers, is shaping up to be a tight one across much of the country in 2020. Housing supply is expected to decline in the coming year, with the potential to reach a historic low, according to an annual forecast from Realtor.com. Only 35 of the 100 largest markets in the country are projected to see increases in home sales, but Kansas City is among them. In fact, Kansas City ranks seventh nationally for forecasted growth of home sales in 2020, with a projected increase of 3.4%. That compares to a projected sales decline of 1.8% nationally and regional drops as steep as 10.5% in Des Moines. The Kansas City area also is expected to see the largest decline in home prices of any major U.S. market, at 4%. Whether it’s housing data, dog bars or airport privatization that tickles your fancy, scroll down for the day’s most important business stories.

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Centene, WellCare score merger approval in 2 more states
The Clayton-based health insurer gained approval from state agencies in Illinois and New Jersey to move ahead with its acquisition of Tampa-based WellCare. The deal now has approval from all 27 states needed. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Boeing: Grounding could force halt of 737 production
In an October letter to regulators that was released Thursday, the aviation company noted that any delays in the un-grounding of the 737 Max could result in the plane’s production being halted or cut. Nearly every country has grounded the aircraft after two deadly crashes in five months. (Reuters)

Missouri has cut environmental budgets, staffing
A report by the Environmental Integrity Project shows a 19% decline in Missouri Department of Natural Resources employment from 2009 to 2018. A number of states across the nation have seen similar drops. The report raises questions surrounding the Trump administration’s policy of shifting enforcement of environmental law to states. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Reuters)

St. Louis airport commission members grill mayor’s aide on privatization
Commissioners expressed concern over their lack of involvement in airport privatization talks and the city’s lack of transparency throughout the deliberation process. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Burns & McDonnell to add new business segment
The Kansas City-based architecture, construction and engineering firm plans to add a new team focusing on oil, gas and chemical consulting. The move follows the October launch of the firm’s 1898 & Co. consulting brand. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Build-a-Bear posts quarterly loss, maintains plans to close stores
The St. Louis-based stuffed bear retailer lost $5.9 million in its third fiscal quarter, an improvement from last year. The company plans to shutter 30 stores over the next two years. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

H&R Block program to combat loneliness
The Kansas City-based tax services company has committed $6.5 million to the effort and will work with five organizations to support community revitalization efforts. (Kansas City Star)

Chesterfield retail vacancy rates growing
Retail vacancy has grown to 4.4% in the former shopping capital of St. Louis, which boasted a vacancy rate of just 1.8% five years ago. The vacancy rate for big-box retail properties in Chesterfield has jumped 170% in the past five years, highest in the area. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Marmic Fire & Safety to acquire Charlotte-based company
Joplin-based Marmic Fire & Safety, a portfolio company of St. Louis’ Thompson Capital Partners, will acquire Fire Control Systems, a provider of commercial fire protection services. Thompson Street has acquired over 100 companies since its founding in 2000 and had revenue of $700 million last year. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Developer wants to bring dog park and bar to St. Louis
Clayton-based developer Green Street wants to convert an industrial building in St. Louis’ Forest Park Southeast neighborhood into the newest location for Bar K. The bar and dog-park concept started in Kansas City in 2018, and management has indicated it’s looking to expand to two new markets in 2020. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Say that again

“I’ve never seen stores empty like this, with the possible exception of maybe a devastating ice storm. The barricades were equal to a devastating ice storm.”

That’s Bob Schuette, owner of the St. Charles home décor store First Capital Trading, KSDK reports. Schuette and 10 other local business owners filed for a temporary restraining order against the city over barricades installed along Main Street for the annual Christmas Traditions event. The business owners said the barriers have greatly harmed traffic, sapping as much as 40% in sales last weekend. The barriers were meant to limit the street to pedestrians only for the next few weeks, but business owners said the arrangement is eliminating vital parking spots. On Thursday, a judge ruled in favor of the businesses.

Go figure


That’s how much home prices in Kansas City are expected to drop next year, marking the biggest decline across the largest 100 U.S. metros, according to a new Realtor.com forecast. Citing “constrained” inventory and economic uncertainties,” the report predicts that existing home sales will drop 1.8% nationally while home prices will grow just 0.8%. “Sellers in 2020 will contend with flattening price growth and slowing activity, requiring more patience and a thoughtful approach to pricing,” the report said. Conversely, buyers are likely to be more receptive to the lower prices. While prices may drop steeply in Kansas City, home sales are expected to grow 3.4% there, bucking the predicted national trend. Meanwhile, the report projects a 0.6% decline in prices and 1.2% drop in sales in St. Louis.

Hello, my name is

Carl White

The longtime Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis executive will succeed Julie Stackhouse as senior vice president when she retires in March, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. White, who most recently served as a vice president overseeing applications, credit discount and payment risk management, has worked 32 years in bank supervision at the St. Louis Fed. In his new role, White will head up the department of Banking Supervision, Credit, Community Development and Learning Innovation. He will oversee inspections of state-chartered banks across the seven-state Fed district. Stackhouse has worked 34 years across three Federal Reserve Banks, including 17 in St. Louis.

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


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