Missouri Minute: Protests draw thousands across Missouri; voters, officials contend with virus concerns for Tuesday election

Good morning, MBA readers,

Protests spread across the country this weekend, including in all of Missouri’s biggest cities, as outrage erupted over police treatment of African Americans, sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. On Saturday, Gov. Mike Parson declared a state of emergency, readying the Missouri National Guard and Highway Patrol to help local authorities. Protests were largely peaceful by day, but vandalism and violence broke out at night in Kansas City and St. Louis, causing additional hardship for some businesses already under strain from COVID-19.

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Protests draw thousands across Missouri, turn violent in KC and St. Louis
Cities across Missouri saw multiple days of people protesting police brutality over the weekend, spurred by the death of George Floyd, an African American man who died while being restrained by a police officer in Minneapolis. In some parts of the state, including Cape Girardeau, Columbia and Springfield, protests took place largely without incident. In the Kansas City and St. Louis areas, protests that started peacefully escalated at night into property damage and clashes with police. In both metro areas, businesses sustained damage. (St. Louis Post DispatchKansas City Star)

Voters, officials contend with virus concerns for Tuesday election 
After Missouri’s elections were moved from April 7 to Tuesday due to the coronavirus, voters can expect a variety of new safety precautions at polling places across Missouri. Election officials have seen surges in absentee voting by people hoping to avoid exposure to the virus. (Columbia Missourian, Kansas City Star, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

GM increases shifts, ramps up production in Wentzville
The General Motors plant in Wentzville is slated to increase from one to three shifts on Monday. The auto manufacturer stopped production and closed plants in March due to COVID-19, but it has slowly begun increasing shifts. Returning employees will be required to adhere to new safety protocols. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Movie theaters eye eventual reopening, but interest remains tepid
Movie theaters that shut down in response to the coronavirus have largely remain closed, and many appear likely to stay that way through June. Although cities and counties are allowing businesses to operate at closer to capacity, a poll last week showed that only 16% of respondents were comfortable returning to indoor theaters. (Kansas City Star)

Memorial Day Ozarks partygoer tests positive for COVID-19
The person, a Boone County resident, was likely infected by the virus before visiting bars and pool parties over the holiday weekend at the Lake of Ozarks, according to a statement by the Camden County Health Department. (Kansas City Star)

Church cancels November St. Louis event due to pandemic 
The Church of God in Christ is opting for an online version of its annual Holy Convocation, a nine-day event that was expected to bring thousands of people and millions of dollars in tourism revenue to St. Louis. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Student startups earn $26,000 in virtual pitch competition 
The pitch competition, organized by CommunityAmerica Credit Union and Startland, asked high school and college students to come up with business ideas that solved challenges posed by the pandemic. The big winner was HexaChat, a mental health app to help teens cope with COVID-19, which won $7,500. (Startland News)

Mid-Missouri lawmaker to lead state Children’s Division
State Rep. David Wood, R-Versailles, will become the new leader of the Missouri Department of Social Services’ Children’s Division. Wood said he hopes to bring stability to a division that has seen five directors in seven years. (Jefferson City News Tribune)

Furniture Factory Outlet shutters three Springfield stores
The Arkansas-based furniture retailer permanently closed all of its Springfield stores, citing the economic pressures of COVID-19. (Springfield Business Journal)

St. Louis astronaut achieves another first
SpaceX reached another milestone Sunday, when its Dragon capsule became the first privately built capsule to dock at the International Space Station. It delivered two astronauts, including Bob Behnken, a graduate of Washington University and native of the St. Louis area. (Associated Press)

Say that again

“We should be protesting without question, but this right here is the real Ferguson.”

That’s longtime Ferguson resident Becky Mueller on the community coming together to clean up and help local businesses cope with damage left by protests in the area over the weekend, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. In Ferguson and other parts of the St. Louis area, as well as in Kansas City, peaceful protests during the day this weekend gave way to outbursts of violence and vandalism at night. On Sunday morning in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas, local residents volunteered their time to help clean up. In Ferguson, where multiple businesses had sustained damage the night before, St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell expressed support for peaceful protests but spoke out against destruction. “People need to understand that many of these local businesses are not sitting on a nest egg,” Bell said. “They are struggling too.”

Go figure

$2.16 billion 

That’s about how much the Missouri tourism sector lost out on between Feb. 29 and May 9 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to estimates from research firm Tourism Economics. During the 2019 fiscal year, according to the firm, tourism had an economic impact of about $17.7 billion in Missouri, the Jefferson City News Tribune reports. However, with the pandemic’s effect on travel and other leisure activities, about one-third of the state’s hospitality, restaurant and entertainment workers have filed for unemployment.

Hello, my name is

Russell Cellular

This Battlefield-based company topped the Springfield Business Journal’s annual list of the fastest-growing companies in the Ozarks, released Thursday. The company, which operates more than 600 Verizon Wireless stores in 37 states, reported 2019 revenue of nearly $600, an increase of 88%. Russell Cellular’s big year included the two largest acquisitions in company history and a move into a new, 41,000-square-foot headquarters.

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


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