Good morning, MBA readers,
Recent changes to prominent visa programs have left Missouri universities and businesses wondering what the future holds for their students and employees. This week, the Department of Homeland Security announced that international students with F-1 student visas cannot stay in the country if they are taking only online classes. That has raised concern among students and university officials, who may choose to administer courses remotely in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The University of Missouri released a statement reassuring international students that the new policy will not affect them, as MU plans to conduct classes in-person this fall. That visa change followed the Trump administration’s decision late last month to put a freeze on new green cards and H-1B visas until the end of the year. That decision met resistance from employers like Missouri’s Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, who say it leaves them with limited options for hiring highly specialized workers. In other news, Bayer has withdrawn a part of its proposed settlement over the weedkiller Roundup after the plan drew criticism from a judge. Plus, United Airlines has announced plans to lay off roughly one-third of its global workforce in the latest signal of the toll COVID-19 is taking on the airline industry.
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St. Louis County small business relief program to pay out $17.5 million
The COVID-19 grant program will begin paying out up to $15,000 apiece to more than 500 businesses in the county. Businesses could receive their checks as early as Friday. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Bayer withdraws part of Roundup settlement agreement
After criticism from a judge on Monday, Bayer has withdrawn part of its proposed plan for handling future claims that the weedkiller causes cancer. The judge said he was “tentatively inclined” to deny a motion that would allow a panel of scientists, rather than a jury, to oversee claims against the company. (St. Louis Business Journal)
Hartzler businesses received $480,000 in coronavirus aid
U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, is among the elected officials with ties to businesses that received funds from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. Her family’s equipment business and farm received $480,000. (Kansas City Star)
United Airlines to lay off up to 36,000 workers
The airline, which services all of Missouri’s major airports, has announced more than one-third of its employees face layoffs around Oct. 1. (USA Today)
MU assures international students amid visa changes
The University of Missouri addressed concerns raised by recent changes to student visas requiring international students to take in-person classes in order to remain in the country. With plans to resume physical classes in the fall, MU said its international students would not be affected by the new rule. (MBA)
Bank Midwest to close 3 branches in KC area
The bank will close eight branches, including three in the Kansas City area. The move is expected to save the company $3.5 million a year. (Kansas City Business Journal)
AMC nears financing deal to stave off bankruptcy
The Leawood, Kansas-based cinema chain is said to be considering restructuring offers that would help it avoid bankruptcy amid theater closures forced by the coronavirus. (Wall Street Journal)
Evictions to resume in St. Louis
A moratorium on evictions in the city that was put in place in March to help address concerns due to the coronavirus ends this week. The sheriff’s office has begun enforcing evictions, starting with those who received notices before the moratorium. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Kansas City surpasses 10,000 COVID-19 cases
The Kansas City metro area has surpassed 10,000 total confirmed cases, with more than 300 new cases confirmed on Wednesday. (Kansas City Star)
State laboratories processing COVID-19 tests are being overloaded
Missouri officials in May signed agreements with 11 labs to process COVID-19 tests in 72 hours, but as the amount of tests rise it’s leading to long waits and delayed reporting of confirmed cases. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Kansas City bike shops see shortages after increase in sales
The pandemic has led to a surge in sales at bike shops, but manufacturers can’t keep up. Because of this, shops are backed up on repairs and low on inventory. (Kansas City Star)
Boone County says allocation of CARES Act funding unlikely to be based on population
The county is still in early stages of deciding how to distribute $21.2 million of CARES Act funding. There has been disagreement over whether the funding should be distributed per capita or based on population. (Columbia Missourian)
Show-Me-State games have been canceled
The annual Olympic-style festival that takes place in Columbia will not go on due to concerns over COVID-19. All athletes and teams will receive a full refund of their entry fees. (Missourinet)
Kansas Speedway will not allow fans to attend July races
Kansas Speedway has announced that it will not allow fans to attend the July 23-25 NASCAR races due to concerns over COVID-19. Fans that already bought tickets will receive credit to their accounts for future races. (Kansas City Star)
Branson requires masks to be worn inside all city buildings
The city government adopted the requirement at its facilities Wednesday in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. (Springfield News-Leader)
Say that again
“The initial impulse is to think they’re taking jobs away from people locally. That’s simply not the case, because the numbers of positions that we need to fill vastly outnumbers the qualified individuals we have to choose from locally and across the country.”
That’s Jim Carrington, president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, speaking about the recent restrictions placed upon immigrants seeking green cards and H-1B visas, St. Louis Public Radio reports. More than 10% of the workforce at the Danforth Center hold visas of some kind, including the H-1B. These visas are specifically given to international workers with highly specialized knowledge, which in the case of Danforth includes ag-tech scientists. With many specialized positions to be filled, Carrington does not feel that there are enough qualified applicants in the St. Louis area. The Trump administration’s recent freeze on issuing H-1B visas constrains the Danforth Center’s ability to hire new employees, Carrington said, and it has raised concerns among current workers with H-1B visas, who are worried that they may have their visas revoked in the future.
That’s how much the value of new commercial construction projects increased in St. Louis from April to May, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. The area saw $216.8 million in new commercial projects in May. This is seen as a possible sign of improving market confidence, as residential construction projects also increased for the month. With $2.1 billion worth of construction starts so far this year, St. Louis construction spending as a whole is up 68% over 2019. However, some analysts fear that this trend may be short-lived and are waiting to see the outcomes of the market in September and October, when most of the current federal pandemic relief funding is set to expire.
Hello, my name is
This St. Louis-based organization seeks to train the next generation of African American entrepreneurs and business leaders. Founder Christal Rogers started the nonprofit with the belief that kids “should be encouraged to live ambitiously and to dream audaciously and to hope beyond limit.” This week, the organization will kick off its inaugural Brownpreneurs Teen Summit, a three-day seminar aimed at teaching teens the principles of entrepreneurship, including marketing, accounting, sales and management. The program is offered to participants at no cost.
It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning.