Missouri Minute: Analysis projects end of state unemployment dollars; rural hospitals to get $4M in aid

Good morning, MBA readers,

Another week has brought millions of unemployment claims nationally and tens of thousands in Missouri — 4.4 million and 53,000, respectively, according to the latest Labor Department data. As job losses mount, a new analysis by the Tax Foundation looked at how long states can fund unemployment benefits at current levels. The answer in Missouri? About 13 weeks. The threat of funds drying up has grown more pressing for startups, too. A new survey suggests that four in 10 early-stage businesses have three months or less of funding needed to remain in operation.

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Analysis projects limit of state unemployment dollars
According to the Tax Foundation, a Washington think tank, Missouri will only be able to pay around 13 more weeks of unemployment benefits at the rate it’s going. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Missouri sees nearly 53,000 new unemployment filings
There were 52,678 claims filed in the state for the week ended April 18, a decline of 48% from the week before. Nationally, more than 4.4 million people filed for unemployment. (MBA)

Franklin County to start reopening this weekend
Franklin County’s presiding commissioner said the county, located on the western edge of the St. Louis area, will allow facilities including movie theaters, concert halls and gymnasiums to reopen Saturday. The county has a population of about 104,000, and as of Wednesday it had reported 105 cases of the coronavirus. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

St. Louis stay-at-home order extended indefinitely
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced the indefinite extension of the county’s stay-at-home order, adding he will announce something later this week about the gradual reopening of trails and parks. (KMOX)

Federal court hears dicamba registration argument
A federal appeals court heard arguments Tuesday in a case that could ban dicamba spraying this growing season. The lawsuit alleges the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of the herbicide for use on genetically engineered soybean and cotton seeds made by Monsanto was unlawful. (Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting)

Bunge to sell 35 grain elevators
A division of the St. Louis-based grain trader will sell a number of its grain elevators along the Mississippi River to Zen-Noh Grain, a subsidiary of the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations of Japan, reducing Bunge’s global storage. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Rural Missouri counties see COVID-19 spikes at meat plants
Saline and Moniteau counties, both home to large meatpacking factories, have reported over 150 COVID-19 cases with many connected to the plants, where people work shoulder-to-shoulder. (Associated Press)

Rural hospitals get over $4 million in aid
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday the state will get some $4.1 million in relief to help rural hospitals finance testing services and personal protective equipment for the coronavirus. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

MU plans to resume in-person classes for fall
While summer classes will remain remote, the University of Missouri in Columbia plans to return to in-person classes in the fall, UM System President Mun Choi wrote Wednesday in an email. Other universities across the country have announced classes will be held online until 2021. (Columbia Missourian)

Say that again

“We know in the last recession, enrollment, spending and quality standards were cut, and that spending impacts continued well after the economic recovery was underway. In most states, pre-K is discretionary. But it needs to grow and improve, not just hold on.”

That’s Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, who warns that the coronavirus pandemic could wipe out state investments made in pre-K education since the last recession, St. Louis Public Radio reports. Missouri does not have a widely used pre-K program, but it has grown quite a bit in the past few years. In 2019, 6% of 4-year-olds in the state were enrolled in state-funded pre-K programs, up from 2% just a year earlier. Missouri’s budget shortfall, however, is likely to put a pause on any further investment in the program and possibly even endanger current levels of funding for pre-K programs. “As pre-K programs tend to serve lower and middle-income families, that means that cuts to pre-K like this exacerbate educational inequality,” Barnett said.

Go figure


That’s how much of its April rent and mortgage payments that Kansas City’s EPR Properties received amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. Much of the blow comes from Leawood, Kansas-based AMC Entertainment, which comprised 18% of EPR’s revenue last year, or about $124 million. The cinema operator announced last month it would close all of its U.S. theaters due to widespread stay-at-home orders. Shortly thereafter, AMC announced that it would not pay rent for its theaters beginning in April. EPR said it would write off $12.5 million in rent receivable for the first quarter. The real estate investment trust has also agreed to defer rent and mortgage payments on a month-to-month basis for customers that did not make payments this month. EPR said it had $994 million in cash at the end of March, which means it could remain liquid while still paying a dividend for 19 months.

Send tweet

That’s investor and startup veteran Lolita Taub summarizing a few of the key findings of a new global survey conducted by Startup Genome, a research and advisory organization focused on startup ecosystems. Among the most troubling ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for early-stage companies, the survey found, is that about four in 10 startups suggest they have three months or less of runway.

Hello, my name is

Onyx 7

This Gladstone-based medical cannabis company will be opening five new dispensaries in Kansas City under a popular California brand, WDAF reports. The first “From The Earth” dispensary is currently getting ready to open in August. Onyx 7 President Nate Ruby said the first location lies “on the economic dividing line of Kansas City,” with widely varying levels of income in the surrounding area. “So I thought this would be a great centralized location to kind of bring together two communities through cannabis,” Ruby said. Onyx 7’s agreement allows it to use the brand and intellectual property of From The Earth, which is based in the Los Angeles area. Four more From The Earth shops are slated to open in the Kansas City area by the end of the year. Ruby said the first location will offer delivery service from the day it opens if social distancing rules continue through the summer.

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


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