Missouri Minute: Chamber endorses Medicaid expansion; St. Louis County to relax COVID-19 restrictions

Good morning, MBA readers,

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry has thrown its support behind expanding Medicaid, the government-funded health insurance program for low-income people. Missourians will vote in August whether to extend coverage to adults making up to 138% of the federal poverty level. The chamber’s endorsement contrasts with Gov. Mike Parson’s opposition to the initiative, marking a rare disagreement between the business lobby and the governor. Chamber President Dan Mehan called the measure a “chance to bolster our economy during this recovery while expanding access to health care for our fellow Missourians.” While voters mull the future of Medicaid in Missouri, Parson must decide the fate of another measure dealing with health care in the state. Lawmakers approved a bill that would allow families to install surveillance cameras in the rooms of nursing home residents, and it’s awaiting the governor’s signature. A nursing home industry group has opposed similar measures for years, but the bill gained traction this year as COVID-19 heightened concerns about senior living facilities. And in Kansas City, developers will go before city officials this week to pitch their plan for a multibillion-dollar data center park that they envision becoming one of the largest in the world.


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Chamber of commerce endorses Medicaid expansion
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry announced that it will join the coalition in favor of expanding Medicaid for low-income Missourians. The business group called the ballot initiative, which Gov. Mike Parson opposes, a “pro-jobs measure” that will help spur economic growth. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

St. Louis County to relax COVID-19 restrictions at end of June
County officials said limits on outdoor gatherings will be removed at the end of the month. All businesses in the county are allowed to open Monday. By June 29, businesses can raise their capacity from 25% to 50%. (KSDK)

CVS adds more free COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites 
With two new sites in the St. Louis area, the pharmacy chain now has 25 testing sites in Missouri. The tests are being offered for symptomatic and high-risk individuals and are free regardless of insurance status. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

KC businesses support renaming J.C. Nichols fountain, parkway 
In the wake of anti-racism protests, several businesses supported efforts to rename Kansas City’s J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain and J.C. Nichols Parkway. Nichols, who opened the Country Club Plaza in 1923, has been denounced because of deed restrictions he used that denied housing to black Kansas Citians. (Kansas City Star)

Edgewell eliminates COO role in leadership restructuring 
The consumer products company’s chief operating officer, Colin Hutchinson, will depart, and his role will be eliminated. It’s one of several executive changes for the company, which was formerly based in Chesterfield and maintains a big presence there. (St. Louis Business Journal)

KC, St. Louis buyers acquire Hawaiian brewery 
VantEdge Partners, a private equity firm in Overland Park, Kansas, and Dave Peacock, a Schnuck Markets executive and former Anheuser-Busch president, have acquired the Hawaiian arm of Kona Brewing. Terms of the purchase were not disclosed. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Pandemic drives boom for yard sign businesses
As people try to celebrate special occasions like birthdays while social distancing, businesses selling yard signs have seen spikes in demand. The company Yard Love has been doing over 20 greetings a week in Columbia, up from about six a week before the pandemic. Another business, Yard Party COMO, launched last month in response to the trend. (Columbia Missourian)

Credit union CEO to retire 
Don Ackerman, president and CEO of Springfield’s TelComm Credit Union, said he will retire by the end of the year. In 23 years as CEO, Ackerman has overseen TelComm’s growth from two branches to six and $29 million in assets to $203 million. (Springfield Business Journal)


Say that again

“It’s not hard for any of us to imagine how many tasks, processes, interactions, and experiences are being quickly adapted for a digital-first environment. This will be a great opportunity for technology investors like our fund.”

That’s what Brian Hopcraft, managing director of St. Louis-based Lewis & Clark Ventures, had to say about the future of startup investing as a result of the coronavirus. St. Louis investors spoke to the St. Louis Business Journal about the types of innovation they foresee coming from the pandemic. Hopcraft also said he anticipates investors will focus more on efficient business models, since the cost of capital will be higher than in recent years. Investors said they anticipate a focus on businesses that can offer remote technologies and bring automation to more physical industries. Despite the expectation of investment opportunities arising from the pandemic, early-stage investors find themselves protecting existing investments, rather than making new ones. Startup Genome, which specializes in research and consulting on startup ecosystems, reported recently that global startup investment has decreased by 20% since the outbreak of the virus in late 2019.


Go figure

$423,743

That’s how much the Missouri Health Care Association PAC gave to political candidates and committees from 2015 to 2018, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The MHCA, a group representing nursing homes, is one of the most politically involved industry groups in the state. It has worked against a measure that would allow families to install surveillance cameras in the rooms of nursing home residents. The Missouri General Assembly passed the bill this year, and it is awaiting a decision from Gov. Mike Parson. Backers of the measure, who have been trying to pass similar legislation for years, said the surveillance would help prevent abuse and neglect. This year, they compromised with the MHCA to agree that any video would not be released without permission from the resident or the resident’s family and the nursing home operator. The bill gained traction this year as nursing homes closed their doors to visitors in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.


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After months of delays due the coronavirus, DoubleTapKC is set to host its formal grand opening on Saturday. The virtual reality arcade and pub in Kansas City’s River Market neighborhood has worked to open for two years. The 5,000-square-foot space features seven gaming lanes for small groups and a room for individual players, Startland News reports. The barcade was originally slated to open in February, but COVID-19 changed those plans. DoubleTapKC’s founders say the layout of the space was planned with social distancing in mind, so it should not affect the customer experience.


Hello, my name is

Golden Plains Technology Park

Developers behind this planned data center complex envision it as a multibillion-dollar facility and one of the largest data centers in the world. Diode Ventures, a subsidiary of engineering firm Black & Veatch, will present a proposal for the technology park to the Kansas City Plan Commission on Tuesday. The plan includes up to 13 data center buildings on more than 880 acres in Platte and Clay counties, according to the Kansas City Business Journal. Construction would be completed in three phases through 2036, and each phase would require initial investment of $1.6 billion to $2 billion.


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


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