Missouri Minute: St. Louis hotel workers face layoffs this week; Missouri COVID-19 case count tops 14,500

Good morning, MBA readers,

Although Friday’s jobs report brought unexpectedly positive news about the U.S. labor market, workers across numerous industries are still feeling the harsh effects of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 1,000 hotel workers in the St. Louis area will lose their jobs this week as the hospitality sector continues to reel from fewer people traveling. With live sports still largely on hiatus, the University of Missouri athletics department has started layoffs and cuts as part of a plan to reduce its annual spending by $16.5 million. On Friday, MU athletics announced that all of its employees making more than $60,000 will see a pay cut of at least 7.5% over the next three months. And for some employers that were already struggling before COVID-19, job losses have deepened during the pandemic. JCPenney announced the closure of 154 stores nationwide, including two in Missouri, as the retailer navigates Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

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More than 1,000 St. Louis hotel workers face layoffs this week
Lodging Hospitality Management will lay off employees at hotel properties across the St. Louis metro area due to fiscal pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic. St. Louis Union Station Hotel and Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark will see the biggest cuts, with more than 300 jobs eliminated. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Missouri COVID-19 case count tops 14,500 
As of Sunday, 14,533 cases of COVID-19 and 809 deaths have been reported in Missouri. The Kansas City metro area, which includes Kansas counties, was nearing 5,000 confirmed cases and 200 deaths. (MBA, Kansas City Star)

Protests continue, draw large crowds 
Hot temperatures didn’t deter demonstrators across Missouri over the weekend, with protests against racism and police brutality drawing their biggest crowds to date in some places. An estimated 2,500 people marched in Springfield on Saturday. A Sunday protest in Columbia drew a crowd estimated at more than 1,000 people. (Springfield News-Leader, Columbia Missourian)

KC-area appraisal company bought by global real estate firm
Stewart Information Services has acquired United States Appraisals, one of the fastest-growing companies in the Kansas City area, for an undisclosed amount. United States Appraisals provides residential appraisal management. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Planned JCPenney store closures include two in Missouri
The retailer announced 154 store closures nationally as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. The list includes locations in Independence and Kirksville. (USA Today)

KC home builders to host delayed showcase
The Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City will start its Spring Parade of Homes on Saturday after a seven-week delay due to COVID-19. The event, which typically kicks off the spring selling season, will feature 375 homes. New health guidelines have been announced this year. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Proposal to allow bear hunt in Missouri draws criticism
The Missouri Department of Conservation has proposed allowing black bear hunting in October 2021 to manage the growing population of the bears in the state. The plan drew vocal opposition during a comment period ended Friday. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Husch Blackwell wins national award
The Kansas City-based law firm was one of three firms to win the inaugural award for innovation in operations from the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium. The firm was recognized for its alternative fee arrangements, which are designed to make fees more predictable and improve client retention. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Hy-Vee gives away 40,000 free peaches in Columbia 
Columbia Hy-Vee stores gave away more than 40,000 peaches on Saturday to provide relief to community members financially struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Columbia Missourian)

Say that again

“I think we are so focused on if I lose, you win, and if I win, you lose, and that type of mentality did not help minority-owned businesses. The way I look at it is if you build the economic pie to be bigger, then one will not have to worry about winners and losers because everybody wins.”

That’s what John Oke-Thomas has to say about struggles he has faced while running his architectural firm, Oke-Thomas and Associates, in Springfield. He is also a former president and one of the founders of Minorities in Business, an organization that aims to promote economic development and opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses. Oke-Thomas was one of several black entrepreneurs who spoke with the Springfield News-Leader about their experiences starting businesses. Amid an uptick in conversations about race and racism in recent days, calls to support black-owned businesses have increased. Lists of local businesses owned by African American entrepreneurs have circulated in communities including Springfield and Columbia.

Go figure


Employees of the University of Missouri athletics department making more than $60,000 will have their pay cut starting July 1, the Columbia Missourian reports. Those employees will take a 7.5% cut for three months, while employees making more than $100,000 will take a 10% cut over the same period. Staff who took voluntary pay cuts in April will not be further impacted, including MU football coach Eliah Drinkwitz, women’s basketball coach Robin Pingeton and men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin. The department is bracing for a 20% revenue decrease next year.

Word to the wise

Ghost kitchen

With a rise in restaurant delivery orders and third-party delivery apps, these kitchens are becoming a cheaper avenue for restaurants to provide food to customers. Ghost kitchens are shared spaces, without dine-in space, that give tenants a place to cook food before it is picked up by delivery drivers, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. Much of the cost of operating these kitchens falls on the companies that own them, reducing costs for restaurateurs. Kansas City-based Hawaiian Bros. became the first tenant of the Kitchen United ghost kitchen in Austin, Texas. Kitchen United manages the facility and has its own delivery platform, while Hawaiian Bros. can focus on the food. Kitchen United plans to open more than 400 locations over the next four years.

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


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