Good morning, MBA readers,
A traditional fixture of spring has sprung up during the dog days of summer this year, as Major League Baseball begins its pandemic-shortened season this weekend. Most teams, including the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals, will play their first games Friday, and baseball-reliant businesses are adjusting to a very different dynamic this summer. While sports fans will once again have baseball on their TVs, film buffs will have to wait a little longer to see movies on the big screen. AMC Theaters, the world’s largest cinema chain, announced it plans to push back its theater reopening dates to mid-August. Plus, as the race for a coronavirus vaccine continues, Pfizer has indicated that a St. Louis-area facility will play a prominent role in the process. The pharmaceutical giant landed a $1.95 billion order for an experimental vaccine, and Pfizer’s Chesterfield location will be one of three to produce it.
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Missouri unemployment claims drop again
The state’s weekly unemployment claims fell by 4,000 last week to about 12,100, their lowest level since coronavirus job losses started but much higher than pre-pandemic norms. State jobless claims have been declining steadily from a peak of around 20,000 in late May. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Pfizer gets $1.95 billion order for vaccine to be produced in Chesterfield
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotech company BioNTech received $1.95 billion from the U.S. government to produce 100 million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer’s Chesterfield facility is one of three sites identified as manufacturing centers for the vaccines. (St. Louis Business Journal)
Missouri reports 1,673 new cases as virus surges across state
Missouri reported its largest single-day increase in new COVID-19 cases Thursday. State officials announced 1,673 new cases, 336 more than the previous record. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
AMC decides to push back reopening dates
The Leawood, Kansas-based cinema chain said Thursday it now plans to reopen theaters in mid- or late August. Theaters are slated to open in coordination with the release dates of films such as “Tenet” and “Mulan.” AMC had originally planned to reopen in mid-July. (Kansas City Business Journal)
State offers $20 million in pandemic relief for meat, poultry processors
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has announced a grant program to support meat and poultry processing facilities and address supply chain disruptions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. (MBA)
State officials competed to attract Chewy facility to Belton
City and state economic development officials had to act quickly to entice Chewy, an online pet supply retailer, to establish its new e-commerce fulfillment center in Belton. The center will bring $143 million in capital investment and could add 1,600 jobs by 2023. (Kansas City Business Journal)
Say that again
“We’re seeing income being spent on more expensive items that people might’ve been holding off on, but being cooped up inside for two months, they have something of a nest egg.”
That’s David Overfelt, president of the Missouri Retailers Association, discussing how consumers in Missouri reacted when statewide COVID-19 related restrictions were lifted. National retail sales, which were drastically reduced by pandemic-induced shutdowns, rebounded by 18.2% in May and 7.5% in June. Overfelt said consumers were able to reallocate funds they had initially planned to use for traveling, which was largely canceled due to the coronavirus. Retailers across the state reported improved business after reopening, but many remain concerned about the longevity of that recovery as the pandemic continues and COVID-19 case counts in the state reach record levels.
That’s how much park attendance increased in June when compared to the same time last year, according to data provided by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Campgrounds also saw traffic increase, up 14% last month, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The surge in park attendance comes after several Missouri state parks had to be shuttered in April when too many people packed in the facilities. Parks such as Ha Ha Tonka State Park, where attendance has increased 75%, have posed as an alternative to more distant summer vacation destinations.
St. Louis barbecue > Kansas City barbecue
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) July 22, 2020
A good-natured ribbing? Cross-state beef? Call it what you will, but that tweet from the St. Louis Cardinals after a victory over they Kansas City Royals in a Wednesday exhibition game fired up Twitter users on both sides of the state. Both baseball teams have bigger fish to fry — or meats to grill, as it were — starting today, as they play their first games of a pandemic-shortened, 60-game season. Though fans will welcome the return of baseball on TV, the truncated schedule and lack of fans in stands is expected to cost Major League Baseball $4.5 billion, the Chicago Sun Times reports. It’s also forcing adjustments from businesses near ballparks that rely on fan traffic, according to the St. Louis Business Journal.
It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning.