Missouri Minute: Bill would add Loop Trolley roadblock; KC convention hotel set for hiring spree

Good morning, MBA readers,

The latest roadblock to the potential revival of the St. Louis Loop Trolley comes from Jefferson City. A new law introduced in the Missouri House would ban St. Louis’ Bi-State Development Agency from supporting efforts to get the short-lived and financially troubled trolley back on track. Also encountering some setbacks: the Department of Veterans Affairs, in its rollout of the electronic health records system made by North Kansas City-based Cerner. But elsewhere, projects are progressing full steam ahead: In Kansas City, the operators of the Loews Hotel are set to embark on a hiring spree to add 350 staff ahead of the convention hotel’s April debut. Scroll down for more on those stories and the day’s other Missouri business headlines.


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VA seeks another $1.2 billion to implement Cerner system in 2021
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has requested $2.6 billion in fiscal year 2021 funding, $1.2 billion more than the previous year, to continue implementation of Cerner’s electronic health record system. The VA also pushed back its launch date for Cerner’s system. (Kansas City Business Journal)

New bill casts further uncertainties for Loop Trolley
Legislation introduced in the Missouri House would ban the Bi-State Development Agency from spending any money or using its influence to support the revival of the Loop Trolley in St. Louis. Last month, Bi-State’s board failed to advance a four-year plan to intervene and run the 2.2-mile trolley system. (KSDK)

Industry report suggests Sprint merger will calm KC office market
A report by commercial real estate firm JLL says that the almost-complete merger of T-Mobile and Overland Park, Kansas-based Sprint will “pave the way for stability in the Kansas City office market and the companies’ commitment to remaining in Kansas City.” (Kansas City Business Journal)

St. Louis software firm expands again in another local merger
Kirkwood-based Benchmark Email, which provides sales and marketing software, said Tuesday it acquired MarketVolt, an email marketing firm in St. Louis. The deal comes just months after Benchmark merged with St. Louis-based Hatchbuck. The company reports over 130 employees and 150,000 users worldwide. (St. Louis Business Journal)

KC convention hotel prepares for hiring spree
The Loews Kansas City Hotel is looking to hire 350 people ahead of its April 2 opening. The positions include managers, banquet servers, front desk agents, bartenders and concierge staff. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Springfield excused for misusing federal grants
The U.S. Department of Labor will not require the city of Springfield to repay over $245,000 in federal grants that were found to be misused. An audit last year found that 59 of the 376 participants in a local tuition-free community college program were ineligible under the $3 million in federal grants the city received. (Springfield Business Journal)

Lucas’ budget nixes funding for KC innovation district project
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas’ proposed budget would slash $300,000 in funding for the construction of a new business accelerator and coworking space dubbed the Keystone Development District. The budget also would cut $50,000 for the LaunchKC program and $75,000 for KCSourceLink. (Startland News)

St. Louis hospital owner won’t contest takeover of facility
Grant White, majority owner of St. Alexius Hospital in south St. Louis, will not oppose a request in court to put St. Alexius in control of a bankruptcy trustee as its owner files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Legacy Bank set to build new HQ
The Springfield-based bank will move its headquarters to a new 40,000-square-foot building. Construction on the new facility is expected to start this spring, with an estimated completion in summer 2021. (Springfield Business Journal)

Mid-Missouri Boy Scouts likely unaffected by BSA bankruptcy
Officials with the Great Rivers Council said local Boy Scout troops will likely not be affected by the nationwide bankruptcy of the Boy Scouts of America organization. (Columbia Missourian)


Show me

Today’s graphic looks at annual home sales in Missouri. After continuously increasing since 2014, the number of residential properties sold in the state declined in 2019. That dip can be attributed to a shortage of housing supply, according to a Missouri Realtors spokesperson.


Say that again

“This is just blatant, right in front of us, just poking us in the eye.”

That’s Sen. Mike Cunningham, R-Rogersville, talking about a bill he shelved Monday in the state legislature after a bipartisan group of lawmakers denied it, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. While Cunningham’s bill clearly outlaws the contentious gambling machines that have spread throughout the state to gas stations and convenience stores, it doesn’t expand legal gambling in Missouri. Sen. Karla May, D-St. Louis, introduced a bill that would allow the Missouri Lottery to license the machines. Funds earned through regulated gambling machines are funneled into the state’s public education system.


Go figure

$7 million

That’s how much CareSignal, a St. Louis-based digital health startup, has raised from four investors, the company announced Tuesday. Investors in the latest raise included UnityPoint Health Ventures, Nueterra Capital, 1984 Ventures and OSF Ventures, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. The company, which started in 2015 as Epharmix, developed a remote patient monitoring platform used by physicians and health systems. It rebranded as CareSignal in January and plans to use its new funding to invest in marketing and sales.


Hello, my name is

Midland Loan Services

The PNC Financial Services Group subsidiary topped the Mortgage Bankers Association’s annual list ranking commercial and multifamily mortgage servicers’ volumes, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. The Overland Park, Kansas-based firm topped the list with $702 billion in master and primary servicing — that is, collecting loan payments from borrowers and performing other property-related activities — to beat out Wells Fargo by a $2 billion margin.


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


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