Missouri Minute: Ferguson makes historic mayoral choice; Parson increases National Guard presence

Good morning, MBA readers,

As protests over the death of George Floyd continue across the state, some businesses are beginning to feel the strain of multiple crises. Many owners just began opening their doors after closing them due to the coronavirus pandemic, and now some are closing once again to guard against damage caused by looters and rioters — or to recover from such damage. The Country Club Plaza in Kansas City has become an epicenter for protests, as well as some looting, and the shopping district announced it is closed again on Wednesday. As many businesses voice support for protestors, frustration among businesses is mounting over damage inflicted by looting and vandalism.

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Election roundup: Ferguson makes historic mayoral choice; KC approves fire department funding
After Missouri’s April municipal elections were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, voters on Tuesday decided on tax increases, funding for local school districts and races for local elected office. (MBA)

Protests continue Tuesday; night proves calmer
Demonstrators gathered in cities including Columbia, Kansas City and St. Louis on Tuesday to protest police brutality toward African Americans. After incidents of violence and destruction in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas the previous few nights, Tuesday was quieter in both of the state’s largest cities. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Kansas City Star)

Parson increases National Guard presence; cities enact curfews
Gov. Mike Parson announced Tuesday that he would “call up over 1,000 troops,” increasing the National Guard presence across the state in response to violence in recent days. City officials in St. Louis and Ferguson announced curfews in an attempt to curtail nighttime violence. In Kansas City, Mayor Quinton Lucas declined to issue a curfew. (St. Louis Post Dispatch, Kansas City Star)

Country Club Plaza remains shuttered in wake of protests
The Kansas City shopping and restaurant district said it would remain closed Wednesday after protests and violence in the area over the past several days. (MBA)

Springfield council split on COVID-19 relief spending
The Springfield City Council is divided over how to spend $916,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for COVID-19 relief. The council is torn between prioritizing housing assistance and small businesses. (Springfield Business Journal)

Build-A-Bear Workshop evaluates options amid cash crunch
The St. Louis-based stuffed bear retailer is exploring options for cash to meet the terms of an agreement with lender U.S. Bank. Options include new loans, government assistance or more cost cutting. In March, the retailer furloughed almost 90% of its workforce. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Mall stores face uncertainty, bankruptcy
Although Columbia Mall reopened May 5, stores there are in different stages of reopening due to COVID-19 and resulting financial difficulties for their parent companies. While some retailers, like JCPenney, have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, other national stores, like Victoria’s Secret, have stopped paying rent. (Columbia Missourian)

Say that again

“I get the looks. I get the confusion. I get the messages on social media when I post and people are stunned that a black man could own a business on the Plaza.”

That’s Isaac Collins, who owns two Yogurtini locations in Kansas City, commenting on his experiences as a black business owner in the city, Startland News reports. One of Collins’ frozen yogurt shops is located on the Country Club Plaza, where looters have damaged some stores in recent days, but his storefront has not been harmed. Collins said he has experienced racism while running his businesses, so he understands what protesters are fighting for, even though looting and destruction has negatively impacted some businesses. He said that the looting is done by a much smaller group of people that are largely separate from wider protests, so he’s not concerned about the risk posed to his business.

Go figure

30,000 tons

That’s how much sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide an aluminum smelter emitted into the air in New Madrid County last year, Reuters reports. The Magnitude 7 Metals smelter reopened in southeast Missouri in 2018 after President Donald Trump applied tariffs to aluminum as part of the trade war. It brought over 500 jobs to the area, but it also has made the air around it the dirtiest in America. In 2019, the area received an air quality index score of 131 from the Environmental Protection Agency; anything over 100 is considered unhealthy. The next highest score in the country was 80 in a California county that experienced heavy smoke from wildfires.

Send tweet

That’s Beau Williams, owner of the restaurant-bar Julep in Kansas City. In the tweet, Williams asked Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas to address his concern that Julep will lose its liquor license because of a local ordinance that requires restaurant-bars to meet a minimum level of food sales, Startland News reports. Williams said that, because Julep closed, it will not be able to meet these food minimums, despite the city increasing capacity limits for restaurants and allowing them to expand operations outdoors. His concern draws attention to the possibility that requirements put in place before coronavirus-related lockdowns will hamper business’ efforts to reopen, and even have a significant impact on their ability to stay in business.

Hello, my name is

Dr. Matthew Broom

SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital has made Broom its chief medical officer and vice president of medical affairs, the St. Louis Business Journal Reports. Broom has held the top medical post since November on an interim basis, and he will now help the hospital transition to its new facility and start a new outpatient care center.

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


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