Good morning, MBA readers,
Remember the hyperloop? The high-speed transportation technology hasn’t made many headlines in recent months as other stories have dominated the news. But a decision last week by federal regulators marks a key step for the tube-based transit system, which backers say could carry passengers across Missouri in under 30 minutes. Hyperloop technology has been assigned a federal regulatory body, and that will allow the company Virgin Hyperloop to begin planning for a new test track. Missouri is among the states that have been vying for the test track, which local officials view as important to attracting a full-length track when the technology is ready to be rolled out — although that’s still years away. In news of more immediate consequence, Gov. Mike Parson announced a new COVID-19 relief grant designed to help nonprofit organizations in the state. The $22 million grant program is part of a slew of relief funds for different industries that have been announced in recent days. Plus, tens of thousands of students in the Kansas City area will start the new school year just like they ended the last one — online. Kansas City Public Schools has announced it will begin the fall with remote classes, joining a handful of other districts in the Kansas City area in making that move.
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Speaking Startup: Founders driven by a desire for diversity
Entrepreneurs start businesses for all sorts of reasons. For some, the motivation stems from discrimination or an unwelcoming environment at a previous job. On the latest episode of Speaking Startup, we look at entrepreneurs who are driven to start companies because of a desire for diversity and representation — and how inclusive cultures can help companies thrive.
KC schools to delay start of year, hold classes online
Kansas City Public Schools will delay the start of the school year until Sept. 8, and classes will be held online. The district said it would resume in-person classes gradually if COVID-19 case counts consistently decline for two straight weeks. (WDAF)
Springfield woman sues city over mask mandate
The woman said an ordinance requiring masks in public places violates her right to privacy and freedom of expression, and that she shouldn’t have to cover her face in church or in businesses that wouldn’t require masks. (Springfield News-Leader)
Chesterfield-based Amdocs to acquire Irish firm Openet
Amdocs, which provides technology services to media and communications firms, announced plans to acquire the Irish tech firm in a $180 million deal. Amdocs said the move will help accelerate its efforts around cloud computing. (St. Louis Business Journal)
Bayer purchase of Monsanto spurs lawsuits from Michigan pension funds
The City of Grand Rapids General Retirement System and the City of Grand Rapids Police and Fire Retirement System claim Bayer misled investors about the liability risks of the lawsuits against Monsanto. (St. Louis Business Journal)
Cerner introduces cloud-based health records product for rural hospitals
The system is designed to help smaller hospitals adopt electronic records technology quicker and without upfront costs. Cerner said the hospitals can get it running within six months. (Kansas City Business Journal)
Hundreds of patients scammed, issued fake medical marijuana certifications
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said someone impersonating a physician approved certifications for about 350 patients. The patients have 30 days to submit new paperwork to the state. In June, state officials revealed 600 other people had been similarly scammed. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Manufacturer investing $8 million to expand in Marshfield, adding 130 jobs
Pennsylvania-based Armstrong World Industries will expand its Marshfield plant by 50,000 square feet, adding manufacturing, warehouse and office space. The plant specializes in custom wood ceilings and walls. (Springfield Business Journal)
With most colleges and universities in Missouri scheduled to start the fall semester next month, rising coronavirus case counts in the state are complicating their decisions. Out of 29 Missouri schools that have disclosed their plans for the fall semester, 25 are planning for in-person classes and four are planning to offer a hybrid of in-person and online classes.
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“I understand the economic realities, but one way or another we need to be able to meet our expenses. And if we’re trying to provide a more complex learning model what we certainly can’t be doing is laying off staff.”
That’s what Dean Johnson, executive director of Crossroads Charter Schools, had to say about Gov. Mike Parson’s decision to cut $131 million from school budgets last month, including nearly half a million dollars to Crossroads’ three charter schools. But Crossroads received a federal loan of more than $1 million under the Paycheck Protection Program to keep paying workers. While charter schools and private schools are receiving PPP loans, public schools are being left out, The Kansas City Star reports. State budget cuts cost Kansas City Public Schools about $6 million in June and July, and although the district received $5 million in emergency funding for digital learning under a different order, other costs to combat the spread of COVID-19 have grown. The PPP loans are not available for public schools.
That’s how much the state will offer to nonprofit organizations under a new COVID-19 relief grant, the Columbia Missourian reports. The grant does not include hospitals, schools, post-secondary education institutions and animal charities. For now, grant requests are capped at $250,000. This is part of a raft of coronavirus relief grant programs announced by the state in recent days, with others aimed at boosting the tourism industry, meat and poultry processors, small municipal governments and startup incubators.
Major milestone for hyperloop development in the United States: @usdot, @SecElaineChao, and the NETT Council have unveiled a guidance document for the regulation of hyperloop and established that projects are eligible for federal funding. Read more: https://t.co/zL9XiPKY4e pic.twitter.com/q1PFpA7e22
— Virgin Hyperloop (@virginhyperloop) July 23, 2020
This tweet, from Los Angeles-based Virgin Hyperloop, came after the federal government placed hyperloop technology under the purview of the Federal Railroad Administration, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. The company views that decision as a key step toward the eventual rollout of its tube-based transportation system. Hyperloop technology, which is still under development, could carry pods between Kansas City and St. Louis in under half an hour, according to the company. Progress toward creating a new hyperloop test track has been stalled because the technology had no regulatory body. Now, there is a point of contact for guidelines and rules moving forward. Missouri has been vying for the new test track, with the belief that the site of that test track will likely become the home of the first hyperloop track open to the public.
It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning.