Missouri Minute: State adjusts to unemployment shifts; GM to hire 200 in Wentzville

Good morning, MBA readers,

Some 200,000 Missourians lost a $600 boost to their weekly unemployment benefits when federal pandemic relief expired at the end of July. Now, amid uncertainty over new federal unemployment assistance, state officials are trying to determine how to proceed. Federal lawmakers have yet to pass a new coronavirus relief bill, but President Donald Trump has issued an executive order to provide a $300 federal boost to weekly unemployment payments. Gov. Mike Parson has not yet clarified how Missouri will respond to the order. Also up for consideration in regard to the coronavirus are potential new restrictions in St. Louis. Mayor Lyda Krewson has said she is considering strengthening current measures in an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus. And, in the midst of widespread unemployment, a pair of companies plan to add jobs in Missouri’s manufacturing sector. Automaker GM announced it will add 200 temporary positions in the St. Louis area, and a transformer manufacturer plans to open a third factory in the eastern Missouri town of Washington.

Stay alert

St. Louis could see more COVID-19 restrictions
Mayor Lyda Krewson is considering more COVID-19 restrictions for the city as young people drive a rising case count. Half of those who tested positive for the virus last week were in their 20s or 30s. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

GM to hire 200 temporary workers for Wentzville plant
The automaker said it will hire 200 part-time workers weeks after announcing it would lay off the third shift at the plant. A spokesperson said the company has worked out a new staffing plan aimed at avoiding layoffs. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Transformer manufacturer plans third factory in Washington
Georgia-based WEG Transformers USA is planning to take over a building left by Melton Machine & Control earlier this year to use as its third factory in the area. The number of jobs is will bring is unknown, but the other two factories employ a combined 450 workers. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra cancels all concerts
The organization is canceling all of its concerts through the end of the year, but it will aim to produce more online content in place of in-person performances. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Berkeley facility sold as part of a $64 million deal
A Berkeley cold storage facility was one of two Dollar General buildings sold in a $64 million deal. The buyer of the facility has not been disclosed. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Clayton Financial Group approaches $1 billion in assets
The financial planning firm was launched five years ago and is now approaching $1 billion in assets. It has added more than $50 million this year, and has had an increase of over 300% since its inception. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Broadband providers to receive over $3 million in state funding
Sixteen broadband providers will receive more than $3 million in combined funding through the state’s Emergency Broadband Investment Program, which is designed to increase internet access in the state. (KSDK)

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Missouri had the sixth-lowest cost of living index nationally for the first quarter of 2020, according to a report from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. All six of the Missouri metro areas measured had a composite index below the national average.

Say that again

“That’s a big negative demand shock for the economy. On top of everything we’ve seen, taking another 2, 3, 4% out of the economy, that’s a big deal.”

That’s Steven Fazzari, a Washington University economist, speaking about the effect that losing extra unemployment benefits could have on the economy, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The federal CARES Act boosted weekly unemployment benefits by $600 at the start of the pandemic, but that federal supplement expired last month. Congress is negotiating a new relief bill, but disagreement over how to allocate funds has resulted in delays. It’s unclear if the new bill would include similar boosts to unemployment benefits, but in the meantime President Donald Trump has issued an executive order enabling states to apply for a $300 federal supplement to their weekly unemployment benefits. Gov. Mike Parson did not immediately provide clarity on Missouri’s plan regarding the enhanced benefits, but he said “we’re going to try to make sure that we implement it.”

Go figure


That’s how many jobs the U.S. Space Command headquarters could bring to a new home city, the St. Louis Business Journal Reports. Cities in 27 states — including Kansas City, St. Joseph and St. Louis in Missouri — submitted bids for the military facility, which is currently located in Colorado. Officials in St. Louis announced this week that their bid has passed the first round of consideration. Otis Williams, executive director of the city’s economic development agency, said St. Louis is considering submitting seven or eight potential locations for the facility. The city has enjoyed some success in recent efforts to land similar projects, keeping the $1.7 billion western headquarters of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in town with a bid selected in 2016.

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Mid-Missouri Business Jumpstart

This Columbia-based virtual event aims to help aspiring entrepreneurs take their first steps toward starting a business. The conference has been put together by a dozen Columbia organizations and institutions and is designed to emphasize entrepreneurial opportunity in the midst of job losses and economic hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The conference will be organized into a series of breakout sessions that explore different aspects of starting a business, from social media marketing to funding. It takes place at 7 p.m. on Thursday.


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