Missouri Minute: More furloughs hit St. Louis hotel industry; state tourism budget cut

Good morning, MBA readers,

Missouri’s tourism and hospitality industries continue to attract unwelcome financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis disclosed plans to keep more than 200 workers furloughed until May, adding to a long list of furloughs and layoffs affecting hotel workers in Missouri. With people cutting back on travel and the state facing a budget crunch as a result of COVID-19, the Missouri Tourism Commission says it will close three welcome centers for visitors across the state. That’s part of a larger plan to lop off 46% from the state tourism division’s budget. But amid widespread cuts, there are some green shoots. Developers in St. Louis are reporting fresh progress on their plan for a downtown innovation district. The project, anchored by financial technology firm Sqaure’s renovation of the old St. Louis Post-Dispatch building, aims to bring jobs and spur the growth of diverse businesses.

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The KC Animal Health Corridor, a hub of animal health research and business stretching from Columbia in the east to Manhattan, Kansas, in the west, held its annual summit this month, moving the event online for the first time. Global revenue for the animal health industry has followed a steady upward trajectory over the last decade, growing by about $10.2 billion, or nearly 44%, between 2008 and 2018.

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St. Louis hotel to keep 200 employees furloughed
The Chase Park Plaza Hotel will keep 208 staff members furloughed until May due to the coronavirus. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

St. Louis developers make upgrades to new innovation zone
John Berglund of The StarWood Group and property owner Steve Stone are investing in new lighting in a section of downtown St. Louis as part of StarWood’s efforts to launch the NoW Innovation District. The district will house a new office for payments company Square. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Auto service business expands with another acquisition
St. Louis-based Telle Tire & Auto Centers says it will buy J&W Automotive of south St. Louis County in its second acquisition of the year. Telle Tire will have 16 locations after the sale, including 10 in the St. Louis area, five in the Kansas City area and one in Jefferson City. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Before subsidies, Energizer suggested possible headquarters move
Town and Country-based battery manufacturer Energizer Holdings told state officials last year it could move its headquarters out of Missouri before receiving $3 million in subsidies. In exchange for the incentives, which were recently uncovered, the company said it would keep nearly 400 jobs in the area and add about 140 in the next six years. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Say that again

“Places put draconian-sounding rules into place very quickly, rules that made no sense to anyone except the doctors implementing them. The suddenness and lack of planning understandably freaked out a lot of people.”

That’s Nina Martin, who reports on maternal health for ProPublica, explaining why home births have been on the rise in Kansas City since the coronavirus pandemic began, KCUR reports. Google searches for terms such as “midwife” and “home birth” have spiked in Missouri in recent weeks, according to Google Trends. With doctors preoccupied by treating sick COVID-19 patients during the health crisis, there has been a lack of preparation for caring for pregnant women, according to experts. Some mothers are anxious that their partners will not be allowed to be with them in the delivery room. Some are apprehensive that doctors may separate them from their babies if they exhibit any symptoms of the coronavirus or test positive.

Go figure

$8.6 million

The Missouri Division of Tourism saw that much cut from its $18.6 million budget due to the financial strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Missouri Tourism Commission voted on Monday to shut down three visitor centers operated by the state, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Welcome centers in Hannibal, Kansas City and St. Louis are closing, resulting in layoffs of six full-time positions. Those centers are used by tourists for picking up maps and learning about local attractions. The commission also axed $5.9 million in advertising spending for the fiscal year.

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The St. Louis-based startup scored a spot in the Techstars Future of Longevity Accelerator, a new program focused on startups developing technology and products related to caregiving for the elderly. Founded in 2016, Rezilient is a robotic telehealth company creating tools designed to allow doctors to provide more services over the internet, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. The company will receive $120,000 in funding, plus mentorship and access to the Techstars network, as part of its participation in the 13-week program.

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


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