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Missouri Minute: Emerson to cut 2,900 jobs; Kansas City Star owner files for bankruptcy



Good morning, MBA readers,

The Missouri House approved legislation this week that could represent both a step forward and a step back in the state’s efforts to support the growth of hyperloop technology.

Backers in Missouri have been pushing to bring the high-speed transportation technology to the state. The company developing the tube-based transit system says it could allow people to travel from Kansas City to St. Louis in less than 30 minutes.

According to an October report published by a special panel convened by the Missouri House Speaker, the best way to finance a track in Missouri would be through a public-private partnership. This would alleviate the risk to taxpayers and allow the use of state grants for the project, the report says. A full hyperloop track from Kansas City to St. Louis could cost up to $10.4 billion, and a test track alone could cost anywhere from $300 million to $500 million.

Missouri law allows public-private partnerships to be used for a number of transportation projects, but the tubed-transport of hyperloop technology is not currently specified in that law. The new bill, now under consideration by the Missouri Senate, would guarantee the government could use a public-private partnership for hyperloop technology.

However, included in the bill is an amendment that would ban the use of eminent domain for the project. While some fear that amendment will deter investors, others say it’s unlikely to cause problems.

Scroll down for more on Missouri’s hyperloop efforts and the state’s other top business stories.


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Now hear this

Speaking Startup: Cutting through the hyperloop hype
On this week’s episode of the Speaking Startup podcast, we take a closer look at the hyperloop. Developers of the futuristic transportation system say it could carry passengers between Kansas City and St. Louis in about half an hour, and that has led to lots of hyperloop buzz in Missouri. Despite that momentum, many questions remain.


Stay alert

Emerson to cut 2,900 jobs, close facilities
The Ferguson-based industrial conglomerate announced a major restructuring effort Thursday that will eliminate 2,900 salaried positions and “consolidate” as many as 145 facilities. The company may ask another 1,000 employees to relocate. The cuts, expected to happen this year or next, will save Emerson $450 million a year by 2023, an official said. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Kansas City Star owner files for bankruptcy
McClatchy, the publisher of The Kansas City Star and Belleville News-Democrat near St. Louis, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as it struggles with debt payments and shrinking advertising revenue. Buoyed by $50 million financing from Encina Business Credit, the company will continue to operate its 30 newspapers nationwide as it undergoes reorganization. (Associated Press)

KC area firm’s IPO could top $2 billion
SelectQuote, an insurance comparison firm based in Overland Park, Kansas, has hired investment banks Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse Group for an initial public offering that could be worth more than $2 billion. The potential offering could come in the first half of the year, according to sources. (Reuters)

Bayer plans new herbicide amid legal attacks on dicamba, glyphosate
Bayer’s Crop Science Division announced Thursday that it has discovered a new herbicide molecule that is entering a second phase of development. The molecule is not expected to become commercially available for up to a decade. It’s seen as an eventual complement to existing Bayer and Monsanto herbicides that are facing intense legal scrutiny. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Southwest again delays expected return of Boeing planes
The airline said Thursday it has removed the grounded Boeing 737 Max from its flight schedule for another two months, through early August. In all, Southwest Airlines will drop about 9% of its planned flights. (Associated Press)

Federal judge voids KC Teamsters election
A federal judge in Missouri has voided the November 2017 election of Ralph Stubbs as president of Teamsters Local 41 in Kansas City on grounds that the contest was unfair. The court also ordered a new election supervised by the U.S. Department of Labor, which sued the union in May 2018 over election safeguards. (Kansas City Business Journal)

McBride Homes targets $23 million in new revenue with acquisitions
The Chesterfield-based construction firm has acquired three St. Louis-area development sites from Benton Homebuilders, a move that it says will boost revenue by $23 million. McBride made $278 million in revenue in 2018. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Kirkwood man gets 4 years in prison for embezzling $3.8 million
Bryan Vonderahe, 45, has been sentenced in federal court to four years in prison on charges that he stole $3.8 million from his employer as CFO and controller of the Boyd Group. Prosecutors say Vonderahe set himself as a sham vendor and wrote about 500 company checks to himself between 2012 and 2019. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)


Show me

Valentine’s Day spending in the U.S. will set another record this year, according to the National Retail Federation. Americans are expected to spend around $27.4 billion for the holiday, which is 32% higher than last year.


Say that again

“We’re not trying to make a new market but fill a need.”

That’s Nick Sansone, principal of Clayton-based real estate broker Sansone Group, explaining the firm’s goals and strategy for 2020, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. Over the last three years, Sansone Group has grown 128% and manages some 8,000 multifamily housing units. Once known primarily as a retail brokerage, Sansone Group is eyeing deals in the industrial sector. In particular, the firm is targeting development in Indianapolis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, New Jersey, South Florida and Savannah, Georgia.


Go figure

17.6%

That’s how much Kansas City-based law firm Spencer Fane has boosted its roster of attorneys in the past year, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. Already in 2020, the firm has grown 8% in lawyer count to 295 attorneys nationwide. The firm has added 24 attorneys this year in markets including Minneapolis, Las Vegas, St. Louis and Denver. Most recently, the firm added eight more lawyers in Houston, where it opened an office in August.


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As restaurants fill up with Valentine’s Day reservations, diners in Kansas City and St. Louis can chose from a couple of the country’s most romantic options, according to a new ranking. Restaurant reservation service OpenTable has released a list of the country’s 100 most romantic restaurants, including Cafe Provence in the Kansas City area and Annie Gunn’s in suburban St. Louis.


Hello, my name is

Sam Fiorello

The Cortex Innovation Community on Thursday named this local executive as its new CEO, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. Fiorello, 57, comes from the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, where he is COO. He is also president of affiliated research campus BRDG Park. Fiorello, who replaces retiring Cortex CEO Dennis Lower, will begin his new post on March 30. “Sam was chosen to lead Cortex because he is a proven action-oriented leader with deep ties to the innovation community,” said Hank Webber, Cortex board chair and executive vice chancellor at Washington University. “He has a strong track record of recruiting companies from across the globe, and I am confident he will lead the organization into a bright and prosperous future.”


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

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