Missouri Minute: Farmers to receive aid for crop production; Square adopts permanent remote work

Good morning, MBA readers,

Hospitals across Missouri have seen revenue plummet due to the cancellation of elective procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic. With inpatient revenue down 40% and outpatient revenue declining 60%, according to a Missouri Hospital Association report, the state’s hospitals have lost up to $32 million per day in aggregate. In a couple of the latest examples of the toll these financial losses are taking, BJC HealthCare said Tuesday the furloughs it announced last week would affect nearly 3,000 workers, or about 10% of its staff, and Mercy hospital executives announced they would retire early. That follows an earlier announcement that Mercy would furlough thousands of employees and cut executive pay. Although the federal government has delivered emergency funding to hospitals as part of its pandemic relief program, the funding’s “is temporary in staving off projected cutbacks,” the state hospital association said.

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US farmers set to receive aid for crop production
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced another round of coronavirus relief funding for farmers that grow crops including corn and soybeans. Farmers will receive 45 cents per bushel of soybeans and 32 cents per bushel of corn produced last year. (Reuters)

Square adopts permanent work-from-home policy
The payment processing company founded by St. Louis natives Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey will allow some workers to permanently work from home, including many of its 500 employees in St. Louis. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Garmin secures FAA certification for new aircraft system
The Olathe, Kansas-based device maker has been cleared to integrate its Autoland product in the Piper M600 plane, making it the first aircraft equipped with the system. Autoland is designed to take over when a pilot is incapacitated and land the plane at the nearest airport. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Top regional Mercy execs to retire early amid cuts across system
Jon Swope, head of Mercy Health’s regional operations in southwest Missouri and Kansas, and Fred McQueary, executive vice president and chief clinical officer at Mercy Hospital Springfield, will step down at the end of June. Both executives volunteered to retire early “to help Mercy navigate the difficult financial terrain ahead.” (Springfield News-Leader)

From masked patrons to mall lines, new norms greet St. Louis shoppers
Shopping centers across the region were allowed to reopen on Monday with a bevy of rules designed to limit new transmissions of COVID-19. Customers must frequently queue up outside stores, standing several feet apart from other prospective patrons. Some stores refused entry to people who weren’t wearing a face mask. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Evergy pledges $2 million for pandemic relief
The Kansas City-based utility company announced Tuesday that it will donate $2.2 million to community efforts addressing the coronavirus pandemic. Evergy’s pledge includes $1 million toward relief for customers and $800,000 toward economic recovery programs. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Post-Dispatch parent warns stock could be delisted
Lee Enterprises, owner of 75 newspapers including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is at risk of being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange because its shares dipped under the $1 threshold over a 30 trading-day period. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Springfield-area industrial park development changes hands
Rich and Bob Kramer of Rich Kramer Construction Inc. have bought their partners out of a planned 220-acre industrial park in Strafford. The development has drawn St. Louis-based footwear firm Warson Group, which plans to build a 160,000-square-foot distribution warehouse there. (Springfield Business Journal)

Two KC firms collaborate on new $30 million VA clinic
Workers have broken ground on a new Alabama clinic developed and designed by two Kansas City-area firms: Leawood, Kansas-based architecture firm Hoefer Wysocki and Kansas City’s US Federal Properties Co. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Kansas City gyms, salons see long lines as businesses reopen
Despite pent-up demand for services, many local businesses are far from working at capacity as they balance the overflow with social distancing rules. One salon reportedly had lines as long as an hour with customers waiting outside. (Kansas City Star)

Gym owners to meet with St. Louis County leaders about possible reopening plan
More than 30 gym owners from around the region have written to St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, asking that certain types of fitness businesses be allowed to reopen during the first phase of the county’s reopening plan. Page has agreed to meet the gym owners on Wednesday to discuss when and how they will be allowed to reopen. (KSDK)

Boone County officials reveal new reopening plan
Under a new reopening plan, restrictions on businesses may be further eased as early as next week. From May 26 to June 22, businesses like restaurants, retail, gyms and theaters will be allowed to open at 50% capacity with social distancing guidelines. (Columbia Missourian)

Springfield approves over $9 million in federal airport funding
The Springfield City Council unanimously approved nearly $9.3 million in federal relief funds for the Springfield-Branson National Airport. The funds were issued as part of $10 billion allocated for airports nationwide. (Springfield Business Journal)

Columbia rolls out new COVID-19 information hub
The City of Columbia has launched a new online repository designed to help citizens and other stakeholders track all data related to the local pandemic efforts, including city spending. (Columbia Missourian)

Say that again

“Our (Office of Cyber Security) team consistently operates as if a target is on our back, so when one really gets put there, I have full confidence that we will be diligent in our protection and response.”

That is Stephen Meyer, a special assistant in the Missouri Office of Administration, addressing concerns of Chinese retaliation as a response to the lawsuit Missouri filedagainst the Chinese government in April. Members of Gov. Mike Parson’s administration had feared that Missouri would see increased cyber attacks or experience supply disruptions in personal protective equipment shipped from China, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. While an Office of Administration spokesperson said there have not been any increases in cyber attacks, the Office of Cyber Security has been preparing for the possibility.

Go figure


That’s how many employees were furloughed last week by BJC HealthCare, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. On Tuesday, the St. Louis-based hospital system announced the number of affected workers, representing about 10% of its staff. These staffing changes are expected to last up to eight weeks or until the volume of patients demands the return of employees. BJC will cover the costs of medical and dental premiums for furloughed employees, with no expectation of repayment when employees return to work.

Hello, my name is

Cohen Architectural Woodworking

This St. James company has been named to the fifth annual Small Giants list published by Forbes. Cohen, which designs and builds a range of woodwork projects, is one of 25 U.S. small businesses to receive the honor. The list highlights private companies “whose commitment to greatness over fast growth” has helped “customers, employees and communities” while also ensuring profitability. Cohen has grown to employ 80 people with revenue of $12.5 million in 2019, according to Forbes. In recognizing the business, Forbes highlighted its efforts to hire formerly incarcerated people and people recovering from addiction.

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


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