Missouri Minute: St. Louis airport eyes biometric screening; FEMA encourages flood insurance

Good morning, MBA readers,

Mother nature has not been kind to Missourians by the river lately. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has paid nearly $70 million in Missouri flood insurance claims since last year’s flooding, and those payments are likely to rise. So, with forecasts of above-average precipitation in 2020, FEMA is encouraging people to invest in flood insurance before floods hit.

At the same time, local officials are investing in a variety of projects away from the state’s waterways. In St. Louis, the airport is moving toward introducing biometric screening to speed up security checks. And in Springfield, the Greene County Commission is boosting the county budget by more than 20% over last year’s levels.

Spend a few minutes of your morning to learn more about those stories and what else is happening in Missouri business.

Stay alert

Congressman presses regulators over Sprint merger approval
Rep. David Cicilline, D-Rhode Island, who chairs the House antitrust subcommittee, pressed top regulators at the U.S. Department of Justice over their decision to approve T-Mobile and Sprint’s proposed merger and their ties to the involved parties. Cicilline asked a Justice Department official about text messages sent to Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen suggesting that Ergen ask a U.S. senator to influence the Federal Communications Commission’s approval of the deal. (Reuters)

Lack of China orders may force Boeing to scale back 787 production
John Plueger, CEO of the airplane leasing firm Air Lease Corp., said Thursday that Boeing’s current plan to lower production of its 787 Dreamliners to 12 per month in late 2020, from 14 now, may be unsustainable due to a lack of new orders from China, a major buyer of the 787. (Reuters)

FEMA urges Missouri residents to get flood insurance
With above-average precipitation projected for 2020, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has recommended that Missouri and Illinois residents enroll in flood insurance soon before new flooding occurs. FEMA has paid nearly $70 million in Missouri flood insurance claims since last spring’s flooding, and those payments are likely to climb as some claims are still pending. (St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis airport plans biometric screening to speed up security checks
The city’s Airport Commission has endorsed a contract with New York-based Alclear to bring its CLEAR biometrics system to St. Louis Lambert International Airport. Under the contract, Alclear will pay Lambert $66,000 a year plus 10% of the fees paid by area travelers who sign up for the quicker screening, which costs $179 a year. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Pipeline names OKC entrepreneur as fellowship’s new executive director
Pipeline, a Kansas City-based entrepreneurial fellowship program, has named Melissa Vincent as its new leader. Vincent, who succeeds founding president and CEO Joni Cobb, was the founder of software firm 9tribe and co-founder of the software platform Locked in Sports. (Startland News)

Construction firm names new leadership for KC-area office
Nabholz Corp., an Arkansas-based general contractor, has named project executive Jeff Gattis to head its Lenexa, Kansas, office and lead operations in the state. The company has more than 100 local employees. (Kansas City Business Journal)

St. Louis VC names new accelerator director
Stadia Ventures, which focuses on sports and esports investments, has named accelerator coordinator Mike Bynum as its new director of accelerator programs. It’s a quick promotion for Bynum, who joined Stadia Ventures as an intern in January 2019 while finishing up his MBA at Washington University. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Officials give final OK for $47 million redevelopment of KC-area shopping center
Leawood, Kansas, officials have approved plans for a major revamp of the Ranch Mart Shopping Center. The $47 million project will be partially funded by a 1% community improvement district sales tax that is expected to raise roughly $13.5 million. (Shawnee Mission Post)

Planned $27 million Springfield apartment complex targets dog owners
Construction is expected to begin this month on The Crossings at East Cherry, a new Springfield apartment complex with canine-friendly amenities. Plans for the complex include dog-friendly community spaces and dog access to the pool. (Springfield Business Journal)

Court rejects St. Louis hospital’s creditor list in bankruptcy claim
A bankruptcy court in Kentucky has deemed a list of the top 20 creditors for Americore, the owner of St. Alexius Hospital in south St. Louis, deficient. The company has 14 days to file an amended list or the bankruptcy case for Americore and its hospitals could be dismissed. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Evangel president to retire
Carol Taylor, who has led Evangel University since 2013, announced Thursday that she plans to retire once the school’s board hires her successor. Donations and grants to the school topped $35 million during Taylor’s tenure, and enrollment went up 9% this year. (Springfield Business Journal)

Say that again

“Trade regime uncertainty will continue, but firms are adjusting business strategies to be profitable even in the face of uncertainty.”

That’s St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard, who on Thursday told a crowd in Madison, Wisconsin, that the Fed’s loose monetary policy last year may have helped avoid risks of another recession, Reuters reports. Speaking at an economic forecast lunch with the Wisconsin Bankers Association, Bullard said the U.S. economy is returning to its underlying trend, despite still-looming trade uncertainty and the prospect of slower economic growth in 2020. He added that “U.S. monetary policy is considerably more accommodative today” than in 2018, asserting that Fed policies have acted as a buffer against negative economic fallout from the U.S. trade war with China.

Go figure


That’s how much larger Greene County’s 2020 budget is compared to last year’s, the Springfield Business Journal reports. Budgeted expenses this year are $233.7 million — up from $191.5 million in 2019. A chunk of the budget, $45 million, will go toward a $150 million jail expansion project. During the county budgeting process, more than $14.8 million in requests were cut. “I commend the judges, officeholders and directors for looking ahead, making the most of the resources available and working collaboratively to make this year’s budget possible,” Presiding Commissioner Bob Dixon said in a press release.

Send tweet
Good news for Panera Bread fans: French onion soup is back after the Sunset Hills-based restaurant chain took the item off its menu last fall. To announce the return, Panera made a video featuring actress and St. Louis native Phyllis Smith, who reprised her character, Phyllis Vance, from NBC’s “The Office.” In the skit, Smith is hired as Panera’s social media coordinator reading Twitter responses from French onion soup fanatics such as: “Bring back French onion soup, you cowards.” Panera dropped the soup last fall to make room for seasonal menu items, AdAge reports. The move enraged fans of the soup, which had been on the menu for more than 20 years.
Hello, my name is

Odd Couples Housing 

The St. Louis-based housing startup matches empty nesters with millennials, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. It taps into the growing population of people over age 65 who want to remain home but may be lacking the funds or need help with chores. Founder John Levis enlisted the help of Washington University psychological and brain science professor Brian Carpenter to create a housemate compatibility test, which asks questions about deal-breakers, personality and lifestyle. Once the questions are answered, a compatibility score is calculated, and users are free to find the perfect match. That creates housemate duos like Sally Lorina, 68, and Nagesh Khanvilkar, 32, a graduate student at Webster University. Khanvilkar’s classmate, Amisha Wankhede, also moved into Lorina’s home. So far, things seem to be going well. “I was slogging to achieve my master’s degree,” Wankhede said. “When I started staying with Sally, I started to enjoy new things and explore new things. She’s very informative.”

It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning. Stay warm out there this weekend.


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