Missouri Minute: State surpasses 100,000 COVID-19 cases; unemployment supplement tapped out

Hello, MBA readers,

After six weeks of subsidizing state unemployment benefits with federal emergency funds, Missouri has tapped out that extra pool of money. Recipients of unemployment benefits in the state got a temporary $300 weekly boost, but unemployment aid will return to a $320 weekly limit now that those federal dollars have been exhausted. Although the additional unemployment aid has dried up, the pandemic in Missouri is not subsiding. Confirmed COVID-19 cases eclipsed 100,000 over the weekend, and COVID-19 is blamed for 1,705 deaths in the state. Meanwhile, lawsuits against the state due to its new medical marijuana program are leading to mounting legal fees that are eating into a fund meant for veterans’ health care.


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Missouri surpasses 100,000 cases of COVID-19
The number of confirmed cases in Missouri rose past 100,000 over the weekend. The official state dashboard reported nearly 103,000 cases and 1,705 deaths as of Sunday. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Missouri taps out federal unemployment supplement
The state has exhausted its share of the federal funds used to pay the $300 supplement. Missouri will have paid six weeks of the additional benefits to residents receiving unemployment aid. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

St. Louis startup Canopy Biosciences acquired
Boston-based scientific instrument maker Bruker Corp. has acquired Canopy Biosciences, which specializes in gene editing and bioprocessing products and services. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Solar energy project planned in KC area
NextEra Energy, a Florida-based firm, is developing a $450 million solar project in southwest Johnson County. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Thermo Fisher Scientific opens new St. Louis County facility 
The Massachusetts-based life sciences company will open a new bioprocessing center that could create up to 250 new jobs. (St. Louis Business Journal)

MU students worry about COVID-19 enforcement
As some students at the University of Missouri continue to flout coronavirus restrictions, others are calling for stronger disciplinary action in order to curb the spread of the virus. (Columbia Missourian)

Regus locations in St. Louis among dozens to file for bankruptcy
Entities all across the country affiliated with the shared office space company have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing the rise in work-from-home policies as the primary factor in declining revenue. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Meat processing plants to learn fate of relief funding applications
Plants with fewer than 200 employees will find out on Tuesday if they receive any part of $20 million in pandemic aid. Nearly 180 smaller processors filed for the relief, which comes from the state’s CARES Act funds. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

UMSL receives $1.3 million grant for first-generation students
The U.S. Department of Education issued the grant to the University of Missouri-St. Louis to enhance tutoring, mentoring and financial literacy services for first-generation students from under-resourced backgrounds. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Sale of vacation homes in rural Missouri on the rise
Agents have reported brisk sales of homes near Branson and the Lake of the Ozarks as some Missourians look to local vacation destinations and avoid long-distance travel. (Kansas City Business Journal)


Say that again

“We live in an area where there’s a lot of affluence and then a lot of non-affluence. It’s like saying if you can swim, or if you can’t swim, you’re all in the same boat. And if a storm comes, that’s what everybody’s worried about. They’re all holding their breath.”

That’s parent Brian Connell, who has opened his suburban Kansas City home to his daughter’s high school classmates who have difficulty accessing virtual learning due to technological limitations. Many students do not have access to high-speed internet or, in some cases, any internet at all, The Kansas City Star reports. Nearly a quarter of Missouri students lacked sufficient internet access last spring. Some spaces have been working to address that issue, with churches, YMCAs and libraries opening their doors to provide students with internet access, and some school districts have purchased mobile hotspots to check out to families. Still, the pandemic threatens to widen the gap between students who have access to the necessary technology and those who do not.


Go figure

$1.29 million

Missouri has spent that much on legal fees for lawsuits brought by people who applied for licenses to operate medical marijuana businesses and were denied. The money comes out of the $19 million in fees medical marijuana cardholders and business applicants paid the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. After covering the costs of administering the state’s medical marijuana program, those fees are supposed to be deposited into a new fund for veterans. Many applicants for licenses to operate medical marijuana businesses sued the state after they were denied, saying their applications were similar to those who had been accepted. Some have also expressed opposition to the limits the state put on the number of licenses.


Hello, my name is

Meowijuana

The marijuana-themed catnip company has seen record sales in 2020, reporting growth of more than 1,100% over the past year. The owners of the Lenexa, Kansas-based company said the COVID-19 pandemic has led pet owners to cater to their pets more, Startland News reports. Meowijuana’s products don’t contain marijuana, but its packaging and branding are full of marijuana references. Meowijuana was ranked No. 336 on Inc. magazine’s annual list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the U.S.


Word to the wise

Microschools

The 21st-century version of the one-room schoolhouse, microschools are offering an in-person option during the COVID-19 pandemic. The classrooms include 10 or fewer students and offer personalized education, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Unlike “learning pods,” which are small educational groups typically held in a private residence and sometimes used in addition to virtual learning, microschools operate in school-like spaces and are a complete alternative to either virtual or in-person learning in larger classes. The schools began before the pandemic, but they have seen a rise in popularity in recent months, with many operating in the St. Louis area.


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



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