Missouri Minute: Mayors declare coronavirus emergency; Haahr expects legislative ‘disruptions’

Good morning, MBA readers,

Cancellations mounted and markets cratered Thursday amid coronavirus concerns. The mayors of Kansas City and St. Louis declared emergencies, prohibiting large gatherings in those cities. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced the state’s second “presumptive positive” case of the virus, in the Springfield area. On the Kansas side of the Kansas City area, three new cases of coronavirus and the area’s first death from COVID-19 were reported. As U.S. stock markets suffered their worst day in more than 30 years, the Federal Reserve Bank said it would inject $1.5 trillion into the financial system to avert “unusual disruptions” in markets. Major professional and college sports organizations couldn’t avoid disruptions, postponing or canceling competitions — including basketball tournaments scheduled for the next two weekends in Kansas City and St. Louis. Scroll down to read more Missouri business news, from how coronavirus is affecting public events to how Kansas City could boost revenue by changing taxation of Airbnb.

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Parson announces second Missouri coronavirus case
A Springfield resident in their 20s tested “presumptive positive” after recently visiting Austria, bringing Missouri’s number of positive cases to two. So far, about 73 people in the state have been tested for coronavirus, Gov. Mike Parson said Thursday evening. (Springfield News-Leader)

First coronavirus death, more new cases reported in KC area
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced Thursday night that a man in his 70s had died in Wyandotte County, in the Kansas City area. Health officials on Thursday said three men in Johnson County, Kansas, tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a Florida conference. (Kansas City Star)

Mayors declare coronavirus emergency, restricting public gatherings
Kansas City and St. Louis mayors Quinton Lucas and Lyda Krewson issued states of emergency Thursday, forcing all events of over 1,000 people to cancel. St. Louis County Executive Sam Page was said to be mulling a similar ban for the county. (Kansas City Star, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Haahr expects ‘disruptions’ to legislative session
Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, said Thursday that the House will return next week to advance the state budget, while the Senate plans to break due to concerns about coronavirus. Both chambers will start a 10-day spring break next Thursday, after which lawmakers will have to “reevaluate” what policy items to take up, Haahr said. (Columbia Missourian)

Sports betting firm delays St. Louis-area grand opening
The Argosy Casino Alton, the area’s first legal sports betting operation, quietly opened Thursday, forgoing a grand opening planned for Monday. The event, intended to preface March Madness, was postponed after the NCAA canceled all basketball tournaments Thursday. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

St. Louis County plans to repurchase 43 acres involved in Stenger case
The St. Louis County Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority may borrow $530,000 from a development board to repurchase two parcels of land in Wellston at the center of ex-county executive Steve Stenger’s corruption schemes. A deal with a partnership that acquired the properties in 2017 for $525,000 is expected to close by the end of March. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Historic Clayton hotel undergoes $9.5 million facelift
The redevelopment firm Restoration St. Louis has completed an 18-month renovation of the historic Seven Gables Inn in Clayton. The project included room upgrades, a new HVAC system and an elevator. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

KC-based dog bar plans St. Louis expansion
Bar K, a concept that combines a bar and dog park, plans to open a second Missouri location in St. Louis in the winter. The new 10,000-square-foot space will feature off-leash play space for pets and the same amenities found in the flagship location in Kansas City. Bar K also plans to open a location in Oklahoma City later this year or in 2021. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Say that again

“We focused — across the whole place — on efficiency and employing technology to drive down costs. We want people to come in here and feel a real sense of value.”

That’s Strang Hall CIO Jason Roberts explaining the technology framework of the Kansas City area chef collective, Startland News reports. Part eatery and part incubator for restaurateurs, Strang Hall opened in December and operates completely cashless. One button on its point-of-sale system allows the venue to close quickly and prepare for the next day, Roberts said. Guests can use major credit cards or load disposable cards with cash, allowing the restaurant to centralize its cash in one place. Cash use “is 10% and falling and almost all of those people have a backup method,” Roberts said. “So I think we’ll see it decline more and more. Certainly the economics of not having to do all the processing and taking all the risk and insurance of dealing with massive amounts of cash makes it a pretty smart move.”

Go figure


That’s how much potential revenue Kansas City missed last year by not taxing short-term rental services like Airbnb, KCUR reports. The city stands out from at least four others that have reached voluntary tax agreements with Airbnb. In 2018, the company agreed to pay a 3.5% convention and sports tax in St. Louis and a 3.75% tax on bookings within the city. Airbnb hosts in St. Louis earned $20.5 million in 2019, generating almost $1.5 million in new taxes. Meanwhile, Kansas City’s proposed budget projects that existing lodging tax revenue will shrink by $1.1 million due to the growing popularity of short-term rental services. Still, officials say they cannot levy tax on Airbnb hosts unless the state updates a statute that strictly limits lodging taxes to properties with more than eight bedrooms.

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The NCAA on Thursday canceled all remaining championships for winter and spring sports, including the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, as a coronavirus precaution. The decision came less than one week before the start of the basketball tournaments, affecting first-and second-round games that were scheduled to take place at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. It’s the first time the NCAA Tournament will not be held since it began in 1939. Earlier in the day, the Big 12 Conference canceled its basketball tournaments, which were set to tip off Thursday in downtown Kansas City.

It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning. Best wishes for a safe and restful weekend.


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