Missouri Minute: GM to lay off workers in Wentzville; AMC reaches financing deal

Hello, MBA readers,

Two federal investigations involving Missouri business deals are putting local governments in the crosshairs. In one of those investigations, the FBI has contacted members of the Cole County Commission over the decision to forgo buying ambulances from a company with ties to Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe. The second investigation is digging into utilities contracts and medical marijuana regulations in Independence. Elsewhere in municipal news, Springfield on Monday became the latest city in Missouri to adopt a mask order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. This comes after Kansas City, St. Louis and Columbia passed mask mandates and a group of Kansas City companies came out in support of their city’s order. As local governments try to prevent the spread of the virus, so do big businesses. The General Motors plant in Wentzville will cut its third shift, temporarily laying off some 1,200 workers, at a time when multiple workers have recently tested positive for COVID-19.


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GM to lay off workers in Wentzville
Roughly 1,200 workers from the third shift at the automobile factory will be laid off temporarily. The move comes amid efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, as the factory has already seen at least 23 cases. (Associated Press)

AMC reaches financing deal
The Leawood, Kansas-based cinema chain will refinance existing debt and take on $300 million of new loans in an effort to survive losses caused by the coronavirus. (Wall Street Journal)

Springfield adopts mask order
The Springfield City Council approved a measure that will require people to wear face coverings in public spaces beginning Thursday. The city joins Kansas City, St. Louis and Columbia in adopting a mask order to stem the spread of the coronavirus. (Springfield Business Journal)

Medicaid expansion advocates receive large donation
Missourians for Healthcare, a group advocating for the Medicaid expansion measure on the state’s August ballot, has received a $1.5 million donation from a Washington-based dark money group known as North Fund. This contribution makes up about one-fifth of the $7.2 million the group has raised. (Kansas City Star)

FBI investigating mid-Missouri ambulance deal with ties to Kehoe
The FBI has contacted members of the Cole County Commission regarding the commission’s decision not to purchase ambulances from a company owned by Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe’s brother. The commission voted to purchase ambulances from a Canadian company, rather than Osage Ambulances, after a purchasing process that Kehoe called unfair. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

FBI requests additional documents in Independence investigation
Investigators have requested records from Independence that pertain to utilities contracts and medical marijuana regulations. This follows the FBI’s request last month for coordinate maps of the boundaries within city council districts. (Kansas City Star)

Dispensaries may be open for business this fall
Medical marijuana could be on the shelf in Missouri dispensaries as early as this fall. With two cultivation facilities already receiving permission to grow, the 90-day time frame for the plants to mature could mean finished products by September or October. (Columbia Missourian)

Kansas City-area businesses express support for mask order
More than 100 businesses in the Kansas City area have signed a letter encouraging both customers and employees to wear masks when they enter their properties. The letter also encourages all people to socially distance and urge businesses to provide masks to those entering their store without one. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Missouri website for unemployment benefits experiences technical difficulties
Website outages on Monday prevented people from applying for or renewing benefits. The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations said the outages were caused by network errors and most people needing to file their request were eventually able to do so. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

National forests see rise in attendance
National forests in Missouri and beyond have recently welcomed more visitors, with many reporting full campgrounds over July Fourth weekend, as people seek outdoor destinations with ample space for social distancing. (St. Louis Public Radio)


Say that again

“This rigged airport deal only benefits wealthy special interests and the well-connected.”

That’s Lew Moye, president emeritus of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, speaking about the possible privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. While groups including the Carpenters Union, United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 655 and the St. Louis NAACP have expressed support for privatizing the airport, other unions have come out against it. The privatization push has also drawn criticism from the city’s chief attorney, who said the petition to put privatizing the airport on the Nov. 3 ballot violates both the city charter and the state Constitution. Because the petition could be barred from appearing on the ballot, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen is considering proposing its own plan for privatizing the airport, since that would not violate the ballot rules.


Go figure

684

That’s how many construction firms in the Kansas City area received Paycheck Protection Program loans of at least $150,000, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. In Kansas City, the construction sector had the most businesses receive PPP loans of at least $150,000. Those 684 companies received loans worth a total of between $273 million and $673 million, according to data provided by the Small Business Administration on the range of the PPP loans. Professional, scientific and technical service companies in the Kansas City area were also big beneficiaries of the lending program, receiving a total of 610 loans worth at least $150,000.


Send tweet


That’s Nicole Galloway, Missouri state auditor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, tweeting at Gov. Mike Parson in response to a tweet by the governor that showed him attending a weekend event without wearing a mask or social distancing. Parson’s tweet from the event was criticized as contradictory because of a tweet he posted the day before asking people to practice social distancing and wear masks, in order to be “safe, smart, and responsible.” Kansas City, St. Louis and Columbia are all under mandatory mask orders, and Missouri’s COVID-19 case count continues to rise. Guidelines from federal and state health officials recommend that people wear masks in public to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.


Hello, my name is

Kathleen Paese

She is slated to become the next chief operating officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, effective next year, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. Paese is currently executive vice president of the St. Louis Fed’s treasury division and serves on the bank’s management committee. She has been at the bank for more than 30 years and will replace David Sapenaro, who will be retiring after 35 years there.


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


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