Missouri Minute: Sprint shutting down Virgin Mobile; legislative session opens

Good morning, MBA readers,

State lawmakers have returned to Jefferson City for the start of Missouri’s 2020 legislative session, and business issues ranging from support of startups to regulation of riverboats could be on the table over the next four months. Elsewhere, Missouri workers are grappling with layoffs — both anticipated and suddenly realized. In Springfield, employees of the local newspaper are banding together to form a union in the face of potential cuts by their new corporate parent. In Kansas City, the sudden closure of a countertop maker has left close to 200 employees without work. Scroll down to learn more about these stories and the day’s other top business news from across Missouri.

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Sprint shutting down Virgin Mobile ahead of T-Mobile merger
The Overland Park, Kansas-based wireless carrier is shutting down prepaid brand Virgin Mobile as a lawsuit seeking to block its merger with T-Mobile heads toward closing arguments on Jan. 15. Sprint said existing Virgin customers will be moved to a sister brand, Boost Mobile, beginning Feb. 2 and “receive a comparable or better Boost Mobile service plan with no extra cost.” (Kansas City Business Journal)

KC-area manufacturer shutters, cutting jobs
Premier Surfaces, a Riverside-based maker of countertops, shut down Friday, leaving about 200 employees without jobs. Former employees say they were offered no severance package, no transition assistance and no insurance coverage after separation. (KSHB)

Garmin partners with Ford on new electric Mustang
The Olathe, Kansas-based electronics maker will integrate its navigation technology into Ford’s SYNC in-car entertainment system. The newest version of SYNC will be available in Ford’s new electric Mustang Mach-E SUV. (Kansas City Star)

Carpenters union, NAACP press to revive Lambert privatization talks
Leaders of the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council and the St. Louis NAACP have urged St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson to revive discussions about leasing St. Louis Lambert International Airport to a private operator. The groups said they are submitting an open records request for all documents related to the ill-fated process and called on would-be bidders to submit their proposals to the city anyway. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

New Ameren transmission line in service in northern Missouri
Ameren announced Monday that the 100-mile Mark Twain Transmission Project is now in service near Hannibal. The $267 million transmission line is expected to drive down electricity costs in the state while promoting wind power. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Columbia weighs new Airbnb restrictions
New ordinances discussed by the Columbia City Council on Monday would require building owners to live in the residence for at least 270 days of the year in order to rent out their property as a short-term rental. Owners would also be required to be on-site when guests are present, except during certain daytime hours. (Columbia Missourian)

KC law firm files suit over hacked Ring systems
The law firm Stueve Siegel Hanson has joined Washington-based Tycko & Zavareei to file a class-action lawsuit against Ring, whose home security systems were targeted by hackers. The lawsuit claims lax safeguards allowed hackers to gain unauthorized access to security cameras and then threaten and harass Ring customers. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Say that again

“I care about my area here and the fact that they’ve had an economic bias placed against them.”

That’s Rep. Rocky Miller, R-Lake Ozark, who objects to Missouri’s constitution allowing riverboat gambling on only the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, the Springfield News-Leader reports. Miller has filed a resolution that would ask voters to add the Osage River to the list of waterways in the state where casinos are permitted. If passed, the law would not change the number of permitted casino licenses in the state from 13. Rather, Miller hopes his district “would become a great option to revive some revenue” if one of the state’s existing licenses were to become available.

Go figure


That’s the percent of new jobs in Missouri that come from startups and entrepreneurs, according to NEXT Missouri President Ben Johnson. NEXT Missouri, a new coalition of 17 organizations, plans to lobby legislators to improve policies in the state related to business development and entrepreneurship, St. Louis Public Radio reports. Part of the strategy includes raising the profile of entrepreneurs and the role they play in job creation. Another goal is to increase funding for the Missouri Technology Corporation, a private-public partnership that funds startups and technology companies in the state. The MTC has seen its funding slashed in recent years, to around $2 million in 2019 from about $18 million in 2015.

Send tweet

With this tweet and an accompanying news release, employees of the Springfield News-Leader announced plans to unionize as the Springfield News Guild. According to the release, all full-time staffers from the Springfield newspaper are filing cards with the government this week requesting a vote to establish a union. The move comes amid continued consolidation and job cuts in the newspaper industry. In November, New Media Investment Group closed on its acquisition of Gannett, the News-Leader’s parent. The combined company, called Gannett, has promised $275 million to $300 million in cost savings. The Springfield News Guild release states that corporate executives are making it more difficult for local journalists to cover the events and issues of the area. Unionizing, the guild says, will help “ensure we have a voice in those discussions for ourselves and our community.”

Hello, my name is

Claire Trunko

She has been hired by Together Credit Union, one of the largest credit unions in St. Louis, as its new chief people officer, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. She will manage several roles, from talent acquisition and recruitment to compensation and benefits. Prior to joining the credit union, Trunko was vice president of human resources for Lumeris, a medical billing business based in Maryland Heights.

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


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