Missouri Minute: State restores suspended unemployment requirements; Treasury issues $700M to YRC

Good morning, MBA readers,

Missourians seeking unemployment benefits will now have to do three work searches each week to qualify, reverting back to pre-coronavirus requirements. The rules had been suspended after the onset of the pandemic, allowing easier access to government assistance amid a surge in job losses. Meanwhile, the governor is making decisions about how to use Missouri’s federal CARES Act funding, and $50 million of it will be allocated to improving broadband internet access across the state. The move is designed to enhance connectivity in underserved communities, improve distance education and strengthen telehealth capabilities. While that piece of the state’s coronavirus response aims to improve Missourians’ ability to function remotely, another effort focuses on in-person operations — namely, the tourism businesses that drive $17.7 billion in spending each year. An economic recovery task force created for the state’s tourism sector is working to balance safety and economic survival for hotels, restaurants and attractions across the state.


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State restores suspended unemployment requirements
Missourians filing for unemployment benefits will be required to complete three work search activities per week beginning this week. Additionally, employers will start being charged again for unemployment claims. The requirements had been suspended due to COVID-19. (Missourinet)

Treasury issues $700 million to YRC, takes equity stake 
The U.S. Treasury has announced it will provide $700 million in relief funds to Overland Park, Kansas-based shipping company YRC Worldwide. The treasury will receive 29.6% of the company’s common stock in exchange. (Kansas City Star)

Some KC restaurants closing again after positive COVID-19 tests
Some establishments that recently resumed dine-in service are shuttering again due to employees testing positive for COVID-19. Some had continued offering carry-out service during their initial shutdowns but are closing completely this time around. (KCUR)

KC-tested COVID-19 vaccine selected for federal program
Inovio Pharmaceuticals will be part of a national program seeking to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 by January. The Pennsylvania-based firm began human clinical testing of the vaccine in April at the Center for Pharmaceutical Research in Kansas City. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Eight job centers in Missouri reopen for in-person help 
Missouri’s 29 job centers closed when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Eight job centers across the state, including those in St. Louis, St. Charles, Springfield and Branson, have reopened. (Missourinet)


Say that again

“People need their employment. So, the economics of this are from care and concern about citizens of our region. It’s a balancing act — how can you protect people safely but also don’t go under financially.”

That’s Kathleen Ratcliffe, president of the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission and member of a statewide task force focused on economic recovery for the tourism sector. Tourism is one of the state’s biggest industries, employing more than 300,000 people and driving $17.7 billion in annual spending, according to the Missouri Division of Tourism. But since the onset of the coronavirus, hotels, attractions and restaurants have suffered steep losses — one estimate suggests Missouri missed out on nearly $2.2 billion in tourist spending from Feb. 29 to May 9 alone. In response, state tourism officials created the task force. Members of that group and operators of tourism-driven businesses all across the state now find themselves trying to balance public health and economic survival.


Go figure

$50 million

That’s how much of Missouri’s federal CARES Act funding will be allocated to improving broadband internet access in the state, the Columbia Missourian reports. The funds will support several initiatives, including efforts to improve access to underserved communities, facilitate distance learning and improve telehealth infrastructure. The Missouri Department of Economic Development estimates 300,000 households and 54,000 businesses and farms in the state lack access to high-speed internet. Rob Dixon, the department’s director, said improved infrastructure is “essential to the resiliency of our economy in this pandemic and beyond.”


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Ballpark Village, the downtown St. Louis bar and restaurant venue, kicked off the holiday weekend with that tweet looking forward to the return of St. Louis Cardinals baseball at Busch Stadium. Without fans flocking downtown for games so far this summer, businesses in the area that rely on traffic from the more than 3 million fans the Cardinals draw per year have suffered. The St. Louis Regional Chamber estimated last season that the team has an economic impact of more than $300 million, and with a shortened 2020 season planned without fans in stadiums, downtown businesses anticipate major revenue declines. “It hurts. It hurts all of downtown and anything surrounding the ballparks,” downtown restaurateur Stephen Savage told the St. Louis Business Journal. “You don’t have the amount of overall people down here.”


Hello, my name is

The Clean Hands System

This technology, developed by the St. Louis-based Clean Hands Co., aims to help companies track employee hand washing, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. The system involves a soap dispenser that, when activated, prompts users to say their names, then logs who has used the dispenser to provide a record of which workers comply with health regulations. The company introduced the system in 2009, but it views the increased focus on hand washing brought by the coronavirus as an opportunity to gain more customers.


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


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