Missouri Minute: CEOs join White House task force; Elanco-Bayer deal inches forward

Good morning, MBA readers,

The COVID-19 outbreak has put a stop to many activities, but it hasn’t foiled plans for some big mergers of local impact that were already underway before the pandemic hit. In particular, Elanco’s $7.6 billion bid for Bayer’s animal health unit in Kansas City is proceeding on schedule, with the companies asking European regulators for their blessing. The virus also hasn’t stopped officials in Joplin from floating an offer of $1 billion in tax incentives to attract the latest “Gigafactory” manufacturing base for carmaker Tesla. The pandemic has, however, continued to take a toll on jobs in Missouri over the last month, with the latest federal unemployment data showing the state surpassing 90,000 initial claims for a third straight week.


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KC mayor extends stay-at-home order
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas announced Thursday that the city’s stay-at-home order, initially set to expire April 24, will now run until May 15. Residents are to remain at home unless engaging in essential activities. The move to stop the spread of the coronavirus comes with Missouri’s confirmed COVID-19 case total at nearly 4,900, including 147 deaths. (Kansas City Star)

KC, St. Louis CEOs join White House task force on pandemic recovery
President Donald Trump has named four leaders of Kansas City and St. Louis companies to advise the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic: Joseph Impicciche of St. Louis-based Ascension; David Farr of Ferguson-based Emerson; Steven Bresky of Merriam, Kansas-based Seaboard; and Darren Hawkins of Overland Park, Kansas-based YRC Worldwide. (St. Louis Business Journal, Kansas City Business Journal)

Elanco/Bayer deal inches forward with European filing
Elanco Animal Health has formally asked the European Union to approve its proposed $7.6 billion purchase of Bayer Animal Health, putting the deal on pace to close mid-year. The deal, which still awaits U.S. federal approval, would give Elanco a stronghold in Kansas City, with 550 new local workers from Bayer. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Joplin woos Tesla factory with $1 billion in subsidies
The city is offering Tesla $1 billion in incentives and savings, including a 100% tax break for 12 years, in a bid to become the home of the carmaker’s new “Cybertruck Gigafactory,” which could yield 7,000 new jobs for the area. (Springfield News-Leader)

Group cedes recreational marijuana campaign due to coronavirus
A Columbia group pushing to get a ballot vote on recreational marijuana has officially ended its campaign, claiming the coronavirus pandemic prevents it from gathering the 170,000 required signatures by the early May deadline. (Springfield News-Leader)

State relaxes restrictions on curbside sale of mixed drinks
Seeking to help restaurants recoup some lost revenue, the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control has temporarily waived restrictions on selling alcoholic cocktails to go. Businesses must place drinks in disposable, tamper-proof containers and only sell drinks with a meal. (Associated Press)

Smithfield Foods shutters KC-area pork plant
The world’s largest pork processor said Wednesday it would close two U.S. factories that process bacon and ham, including one in the Kansas City area that employs more than 400 people. The shutdowns come after more than 200 Smithfield employees working at a slaughterhouse supplying the Missouri plant tested positive for COVID-19. (Reuters)

Second lawsuit accuses Cerner of mismanaging employee retirement funds
Another class-action lawsuit filed by a former Cerner employee claims that the Kansas City-based health care IT company did not do enough to reduce expenses and fees related to its employee retirement plan. It’s the second lawsuit against Cerner on these charges in two months. (KCUR)

Silver Dollar City lays off 257 workers
The Branson amusement park said Tuesday that it will lay off 257 workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Its parent company, Herschend Enterprises, said minimal park staff will stay on with a 50% salary reduction while company leaders take zero salary. (Springfield News-Leader)

Missouri airports to get $152 million in stimulus
Facing steep drops in passenger traffic, 75 Missouri airports are set to receive more than $152 million as part of a $10 billion economic relief package for airports around the country. St. Louis Lambert International airport will receive $60 million, and Kansas City International will get $43 million. (MBA)

UM System chief: Families may be ‘rethinking their strategy’ for college
The University of Missouri System expects some families to reconsider sending their children to college this fall due to financial difficulties fueled by the coronavirus outbreak, UM System President Mun Choi said in a virtual town hall Wednesday. (Columbia Missourian)

Page proposes special fund to handle $175 million in federal aid
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page has asked the county council to create a new fund that will act as a landing place for about $175 million in federal funds from the CARES Act. He also asked the council to reallocate $7 million from the county health fund to county efforts to fight COVID-19. (St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis commission recommends $60 million in subsidies for Midtown project
The Tax Increment Financing Commission on Wednesday recommended the city approve up to $60 million in construction subsidies for a $334 million plan to build offices, apartments and a hotel near Saint Louis University’s medical campus. The developer, Cullinan Properties, cited about $67 million in infrastructure costs needed on the site as its primary reason for incentives. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Organizers call off Boulevardia 2020
The two-day Kansas City beer and music festival, slated for its seventh year in June, has been canceled due to coronavirus concerns. Pre-purchased tickets and hotel rooms booked through event partners will be refunded or canceled. (Kansas City Business Journal)

MSU executives take coronavirus pay cuts
Missouri State University President Clif Smart has announced that he will take a 20% pay cut in May and June, while other members of MSU leadership will take 10% cuts, to help offset some costs during the coronavirus pandemic. The school is also eliminating online course incentive payments for faculty teaching summer courses, a move expected to generate $700,000 in savings. (Springfield Business Journal)

Electrical contractor plans new Springfield headquarters
Falcon Electric hopes to break ground this month on a new $1.9 million headquarters in Springfield. The 20,000-square-foot space is designed to accommodate growth by Falcon, which has grown to 40 employees. (Springfield Business Journal)

Springfield car wash business eyes expansion
Blue Iguana Car Wash is currently developing its second and third Springfield locations, which are slated to open this year. The company, which started in 2013, currently operates five car washes in Missouri. (Springfield Business Journal)

Facebook group to ‘adopt’ Missouri health care workers gains 600 members
Since it was created last Thursday, the “Adopt a Missouri Healthcare Worker” Facebook group has swelled to more than 600 members who are looking to send small gifts and care packages to health care workers. Members can nominate a health care worker and describe gifts that they may enjoy. (Columbia Missourian)

Bank of Missouri executive exits
Mick Nitsch, regional bank president at The Bank of Missouri, has left his post. (Springfield Business Journal)


Say that again

“We’ve gotten a lot more inquiries from folks who are due very soon and were planning to deliver in a hospital and, for one reason or another, are concerned about that.”

That’s Katy Miller, owner of Columbia-based Birth Strong Midwifery, who said she has noticed an uptick in expectant mothers thinking about home birth as the number of COVID-19 cases in Missouri continues to rise, the Columbia Missourian reports. For these women, the concerns vary from visitor restrictions to the potential of a viral infection in a conventional hospital. It’s not for everyone, Miller warned, adding that, while home birth provides mothers a strong support system outside hospitals, it’s not recommended for high-risk pregnancies. Delivery using a midwife is not common practice, but it makes up 8% of all U.S. births, according to the American College of Nurse-Midwives. As of 2015, Missouri had 84 certified nurse-midwives. To accommodate the increased interest in home births, Miller and several other local midwives have begun practicing together in a partner model, allowing them greater flexibility in caring for their patients.


Go figure

95,785

That’s the number of people who filed for unemployment insurance in Missouri last week, marking the third consecutive week the state has seen more than 90,000 initial claims as COVID-19 continues to take a toll on jobs. Nationally, initial unemployment claims decreased for the week, to 5.2 million, bringing the total of first-time filings over the last four weeks to 22 million.


Hello, my name is

Catherine Hanaway

The former U.S. attorney and Missouri House speaker has been named the next chairwoman of Husch Blackwell, effective April 2021. She will become the first woman to lead the law firm, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. Hanaway joined Husch in 2013 and has helped form and lead the firm’s Government Solutions group. She will replace Greg Smith as chair.


Send tweet


That’s one Twitter user’s account of Build-a-Bear’s launch of The Child, a highly anticipated push doll based on the character Baby Yoda from Disney’s Star Wars series “The Mandalorian.” The doll was made available for online purchase Wednesday at $59.99. Diehard Star Wars fans came out in force to snatch up the doll. “The galaxy’s most in-demand alien sold out in record time!” the company wrote online, adding that customers can sign up for email alerts notifying them when Baby Yoda is restocked.


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


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