Missouri Minute: Businesses survey gave governor reopening advice; boat sales soar

Good morning, MBA readers,

Missouri was one of the earliest states to start reopening businesses after coronavirus shutdowns this spring, and a new report shows that Gov. Mike Parson’s office received results from a survey of business owners days before announcing reopening plans. About two-thirds of survey respondents said their business had significantly declined during the pandemic, giving voice to a concern shared by state governments across the country. That led some states to open up faster than national health guidelines recommended. Another group expressing concern about the toll of the coronavirus: tenant advocates. With Congress stalling on negotiations over another round of supplemental unemployment assistance, tenant advocates in Missouri fear eviction numbers in the state will balloon. With that in mind, a coalition of Missouri groups has asked the Missouri Supreme Court to put a moratorium on evictions for six months. Plus, as COVID-19 and the summer heat persist, water activities are providing a socially distant respite — and business opportunities. Boat sales are on the rise nationally, and people in Missouri have begun renting out private pools by the hour to make some extra cash.


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Businesses survey gave governor advice on reopening
Associated Industries of Missouri sent out a business survey in April to gather input on reopening the economy. While some businesses voiced lingering concerns about the coronavirus, others wanted to return to work. Within a week of his top staff receiving the survey results, Gov. Mike Parson announced that all businesses could reopen. (Associated Press)

BioGenerator grant program increases focus on agtech startups
The program, which has helped St. Louis startups secure more than $75 million in grants since 2015, is putting more emphasis on helping agtech companies access non-dilutive funding. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Springfield Public Schools to receive $1.2 million CARES Act grant
While Greene County’s first round of funding focused on the county health department, the second round of more than $6 million centers on education, health care and nonprofits. Schools will receive the largest chunk of that $6 million, using it for face masks and remote learning equipment. (Springfield Business Journal)

Boat sales soar as people seek social distancing activities
About 70% of boat dealers reported increased sales this spring, and used boat sales jumped 74%. Along with the boom in sales, the supply chain has been strained as factories were shut down early in the pandemic. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

UMSL receives $1 million grant to improve gender equity in STEM careers
The National Science Foundation grant will also increase the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ focus on advancing the careers of Black and Hispanic women faculty. (St. Louis Business Journal)

St. Louis building collapse potentially destroys hundreds of bicycles
No one was injured in the Sunday collapse of the Lemp Brewery complex, where at least 700 bicycles were being stored. The nonprofit St. Louis BWorks owns the bicycles, which it gives to children after teaching them about bicycle safety and maintenance. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

New coworking space opens in downtown KC apartment tower
Spark Kansas City covers 15,000 square feet in the Two Light luxury apartment building and offers month-to-month membership rather than long-term leases. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Head of Maritz Motivation to depart amid changes
Fenton-based Maritz Holdings planned to spin off its employee incentive division, Maritz Motivation, but those plans have been halted. The incentive programs will continue to be run internally, and division president Drew Carter will leave the company. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)


Say that again

“Some people will move into motels, shelters, and cars, or double up in other housing units. Others will end up on the streets. All of these circumstances pose great risks to individual and community health, especially as COVID-19 cases continue to spike across the state.”

This is an excerpt from a letter to Chief Justice George Draper III of the Missouri Supreme Court from advocates asking for the court to stop evictions in the state for six months. The advocates estimated more than 200,000 evictions could be filed in Missouri over the next four months as COVID-19 continues and Congress has not reached a deal on another round of extra unemployment benefits, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Groups that signed the letter include legal advocacy nonprofit ArchCity Defenders, the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing & Opportunity Council and the Missouri NAACP. The groups also said they asked Gov. Mike Parson to make funding available for landlords who stop pursuing evictions.”


Go figure

$20.5 million

That’s the amount United Parcel Service will spend expanding its facility at Kansas City International Airport. The shipping and logistics company cited growth of “demand for shipping, primarily due to e-commerce” as a driving factor in its decision to add the capacity, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. Research firm eMarketer projects that e-commerce will account for a record 15% of all U.S. sales this year, Reuters reports. Once the KCI project is complete, likely by the fall of 2021, UPS will hire 60 new employees to sort packages.


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An updated St. Louis County mask order issued Friday requires businesses to deny entry to customers who refuse to wear face coverings, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. The county said the order was in response to reports of some businesses not requiring customers to wear masks, despite an existing order. The county also said it would require masks to be worn in educational institutions, from kindergarten through 12th grade.


Hello, my name is

Swimply

As some community pools and aquatic centers have closed due to the pandemic, people searching for summer fun in the water have turned to other options. Some people in Missouri have started using the app Swimply to rent out their private pools to strangers by the hour — a bit like Airbnb for pools. In the St. Louis area, 25 pools are listed for rent, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.


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


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