Missouri Minute: Parson lifting coronavirus restrictions; major shopping center deal falls apart

Good morning, MBA readers,

Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday that statewide restrictions in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 will be lifted next week, but Missouri will remain under a state of emergency until the end of the year to continue receiving federal relief funds. As Missouri moves to Phase 2 of the governor’s recovery plan, local officials will be able to enforce their own guidelines related to COVID-19. The decision comes amid an effort to inject life into the state’s tourism industry, as sites like the Gateway Arch Museum and Ballpark Village in St. Louis reopen. As Missouri navigates reopening and economic recovery, the state’s tourism division plans to create a health and safety certification for tourist attractions looking to reassure guests.

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State-level coronavirus restrictions to be lifted Tuesday
Gov. Mike Parson announced the state will enter Phase 2 of its reopening plan, lifting all statewide restrictions, although Missouri will remain in a state of emergency. Local officials can still enforce their own restrictions and ordinances. (Columbia Missourian)

KC metro COVID-19 case count increases by 100
For the second consecutive day, more than 100 new cases were announced in the Kansas City metro on Thursday. Statewide, the number of confirmed cases approached 15,400, with 860 deaths. (Kansas City Star)

Gateway Arch museum, visitor center to reopen Wednesday
Visitors will not be able to take the tram to the top of the St. Louis landmark, but the visitor center, museum, store and cafe will open. Visitors must make ticket reservations to enter. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Ballpark Village beginning reopening next week
The St. Louis bar and entertainment district will reopen its outdoor plaza and OneLife Fitness on Wednesday, and it will host the grand opening of Sports & Social St. Louis, part of the district’s next phase of expansion. (St. Louis Business Journal)

State announces new online portal to train out-of-work Missourians
The portal, called Return Strong, provides vouchers worth up to $4,000 for unemployed residents to take training classes, many through local community colleges. Schools like St. Louis Community College and St. Charles Community College have lists of voucher-eligible classes. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Boeing supplier LMI Aerospace to lay off 60 people
The cuts come after news in April that the supplier would furlough 140 people from its St. Charles facilities and 160 people from facilities elsewhere in Missouri. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Fast-growing KC company acquires robotics firm
Pivot International acquired Phoenix-based Solar Pool Technologies, maker of a product called Solar Breeze, which is like a Roomba for pools. It’s the eighth acquisition in three years for Pivot International, a product design and manufacturing company. (Kansas City Business Journal)

EPA awards Springfield $300,000 to clean up contaminated sites
The federal funds will help rehabilitate vacant and abandoned properties, opening them up for new uses. (Springfield Business Journal)

Little Sunshine’s Enterprises to open four more schools nationwide
The Springfield-based child care and education company originally delayed the opening of the schools, but it now says they will open by the end of the year. Between 2017 and 2019, the company has reported 50% revenue growth. (Springfield Business Journal)

H&R Block subsidiary launches new small business banking product
Wave Financial, which Kansas City’s H&R Block acquired last year for $405 million, has introduced Wave Money, which offers banking and bookkeeping functions without charging monthly fees. (Startland News)

Say that again

We’re hopeful that we as a division can play a leading role in jumpstarting the economy when people are ready to and feel safe traveling again.”

That’s Stephen Foutes, director of the Missouri Division of Tourism, talking about plans to safely reopen tourist attractions in Missouri, which have been battered by closures and declines in travelers during the pandemic. As coronavirus-related restrictions are being lifted, the state tourism division is planning to develop a universal health and safety certification for local attractions that want to reassure visitors. The certification will be crafted after consulting guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Also, the tourism division has allotted roughly $3.2 million of its budget to assisting various destination marketing organizations across the state.

Go figure

$3.6 billion 

That’s how much Simon Property Group, the largest U.S. mall owner, was set to pay to acquire Taubman Centers, a real estate investment trust whose portfolio of high-end shopping properties includes the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. Simon, which owns malls in Chesterfield, Osage Beach and Springfield, backed out of the deal, alleging that Taubman violated parts of the merger agreement, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. Simon claimed the COVID-19 pandemic has had a “disproportionate effect” on Taubman relative to other retail real estate companies. Taubman responded, saying the termination of the deal is invalid and Simon will be “bound to the transaction in all respects.”

Despite occupying close quarters during shifts at the fire station and facing the risk of coronavirus exposure responding to calls, firefighters at departments in Missouri have found comfort in their coronavirus protocols. In the tweet above, the Columbia Fire Department illustrated some of its new precautions in response to COVID-19. The pandemic hasn’t slowed the Columbia department in delivering its essential services, according to Brad Fraizer, an assistant chief. “If they do need care of any kind, we’re gonna continue to provide it,” Fraizer said. “We’re just gonna have different protective equipment on.”

Hello, my name is

Lyle Foster 

He’s the CEO of Big Momma’s Coffee and Espresso Bar in Springfield and has been appointed as the administrator of $34.4 million of COVID-19 relief funding for Greene County, the Springfield Business Journal reports. The funds are a part of $2.3 billion in CARES Act federal funding received by the state in April. Foster, a community activist who has advocated for black residents in Springfield, brings 40 years of experience in management and 20 years of experience in nonprofit administration to the role. He will oversee distribution of the funds for pandemic-related expenses in the county until the end of the year.

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


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