Missouri Minute: State government returning gradually; St. Louis police to adopt body cameras

Hello, MBA readers,

An economic development “border war” that was declared dead last year is still showing signs of life. BlueScope Construction, a company with a location in Kansas City’s West Bottoms, is in negotiations with both Missouri and Kansas to decide whether it will stay in Missouri or hop across the state line. BlueScope is eligible for such incentives because it started negotiations prior to last year’s border war agreement, Kansas officials said. But a fight over tax incentives is exactly what the two state’s governors agreed to end 10 months ago. In other news of gubernatorial declarations, state offices in Missouri are gradually returning to operation — but not back to normal yet — after Gov. Mike Parson lifted statewide coronavirus restrictions. And two tech companies in the St. Louis region are making acquisitions, with Perficient and Handled both buying up other firms.


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State government returns slowly as Missouri reopens
Despite Gov. Mike Parson declaring that “Missouri is FULLY OPEN,” many state offices have not returned to full operation. A spokesperson said 31% of the state’s workforce continues to work remotely for now. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

St. Louis, KC airports begin to rise from coronavirus lows
St. Louis Lambert International Airport is now operating at around 25% of its pre-coronavirus passenger traffic, an increase from its lowest point since the pandemic started, and is running 159 flights daily. Kansas City International Airport flights dropped 70% from March to May, but the airport has begun reinstating suspended routes, with most slated to return in August. (St. Louis Business JournalKansas City Business Journal)

Missouri’s COVID-19 death rate is more than double Kansas’
Missouri’s COVID-19 death rate is 5.3%, over twice that of Kansas, which has a rate of 2.1%. Doctor’s aren’t sure what’s causing the disparity, but the size of cities in each state and their population density could be a factor. (Kansas City Star)

Perficient makes third acquisition of year
The St. Louis-based IT services and consulting firm purchased Colombian software development company Productora de Software in an acquisition said to be its biggest yet, although terms of the deal were not disclosed. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Missouri to restart stamp recertification
Missouri had suspended the food stamp reapplication process in response to the coronavirus so recipients could more easily continue receiving benefits. The reapplication requirements will be reinstated July 1. (Missourinet)

Coronavirus outbreak hits state correctional facility
Seven employees and seven inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 at a state prison for women in Vandalia. Other prisons have had cases, but the number of infected in Missouri prisons has stayed low relative to other states. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

The Children’s Place to close one third of locations
The national children’s clothing retailer, which has 11 locations in Missouri, will close a portion of physical storefronts in order to shift more of its business online. (St. Louis Business Journal)

CrossFirst Bank names new president of KC area
The Leawood, Kansas-based bank promoted Kristin Tyson to president of the Kansas City area, making her one of four female banking presidents or CEOs in the region. Tyson will succeed Mike Maddox, who became president and CEO of the bank’s holding company on June 1. (Kansas City Business Journal)

New Schnucks format to open in Columbia
Schnuck Markets will open its new natural food store, EatWell, in Columbia on Wednesday. It will take the location of health food store Lucky’s. Schnucks announced the new store format last month. (St. Louis Business Journal)

New fitness center coming to St. Louis
Hotworx, a gym that holds workouts inside of saunas, will open its first Missouri location in an Element Hotel currently being constructed in St. Louis. The gym has over 140 locations total. (St. Louis Business Journal)

St. Louis County to reevaluate names of roads, parks
The county will consider renaming roads and parks as part of a new study. The announcement comes amid protests across the country and citizen complaints. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

KC country club’s expansion plan meets resistance
Oakwood Country Club wants to expand its golf course into an area taken up by Blue River Parkway Trails System. The plans have angered some hikers and mountain bikers that use the trail. (KCUR)


Say that again

“I think it’s a horrible dirty, nasty trick that I would do too if I were in their shoes. I think they’re doing just exactly what anybody else would do.”

That’s Bill Haw, a leader of redevelopment efforts in Kansas City’s Stockyards District, speaking on the demands made by the company BlueScope Construction in order to keep them in Missouri, The Kansas City Star reports. Haw used to own the site on which BlueScope currently operates, but he does not currently have associations with the Australian construction company. The move comes just 10 months after Gov. Mike Parson and Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly signed an agreement to end the economic development “border war” caused by using tax incentives to lure companies across the state line. However, Kansas officials said BlueScope had begun discussing the move before this truce was made, making the company’s incentives immune from the new agreement. BlueScope could stand to receive more than $20 million in incentives if it decides to cross the border. Meanwhile, Missouri is offering $5.6 million and Kansas City is considering $8.4 million in concessions to keep the company where it is.


Go figure

$67,800

That is the average per-patient cost for the nearly $2 million project that converted a Florissant hotel into an emergency hospital in response to the coronavirus, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. During its time of operation, the hospital saw 28 patients, the last of those on May 12. The city retains a lease agreement with the hotel until mid-July. This is but one of several emergency efforts to convert facilities in anticipation of the effects of the pandemic. St. Louis County constructed a $2 million morgue in Earth City with the capacity to hold 1,300 bodies, but it has only held 57 thus far.


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St. Louis has become the latest city to adopt the use of body cameras for its police force, KSDK reports. St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson tweeted about the decision Wednesday. The city authorized the use of $5.7 million to provide 800 cameras for police officers and another 200 for their vehicles. Among other cities taking similar measures, Springfield is looking into financing and vendors for an investment that would supply its police department with 240 body cameras. Kansas City’s department received nearly $2.5 million from donors two weeks ago to outfit officers with cameras. However, many civil rights groups have expressed concerns that the cameras themselves are not enough to combat police brutality. They have asked for rules to be made that prohibit officers from turning the cameras off or restricting access to footage.


Hello, my name is

Handled

This St. Louis-based startup, which makes an app designed to help users price, book and schedule movers, has acquired Columbia-based startup Roo, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. Touting itself as an “Airbnb for storage,” Roo allows people with extra room in their home or office to rent it out to people needing storage space. Roo’s services complement those already offered by Handled, which include the use of artificial intelligence to determine contactless home pricing and bookings.


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


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