Missouri Minute: State will not defer payroll taxes; St. Louis tourism office seeks $8 million loan

Hello, MBA readers,

As summer fades into fall, a variety of facilities upgrades and open-air renovations are in the works across the state. In Kansas City, managers of the Zona Rosa shopping center plan to tear down vacant storefronts in order to make way for more green space in what they called a “major first step” in reviving the commercial development, which has dozens of vacant storefronts. Other planned additions include covered outdoor seating, a splash park and a new stage. A few miles away, Kansas City’s Mid-Continent Public Library has begun construction on an auditorium and outdoor amphitheater. The $6.8 million project will include an outdoor plaza, walking trails and outdoor meeting space. And the recent renovations are not limited to public spaces. With people saving money by forgoing vacations and other related expenses during the pandemic, some homeowners have been using those savings to invest in their homes, undertaking a variety of home-improvement projects.


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Missouri will not defer payroll taxes for state employees
The state will not take the 6.2% tax out of paychecks for its employees earning $4,000 or less in a biweekly period. The deferral, offered by President Donald Trump, would have increased state workers’ incomes by an average of about $250 per month, but workers would have been required to pay the tax early next year. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

St. Louis tourism office seeks $8 million loan to survive pandemic 
The Missouri Development Finance Board gave initial approval to an $8 million, 10-year loan to the St. Louis Regional Convention and Visitors Commission to replace revenue lost as tourism shrank due to COVID-19. The office normally earns revenue from a tax on hotel rooms. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Report claims Parson’s administration interfered with medical marijuana probe 
A memo from Missouri House Democrats said there are “credible allegations” that Gov. Mike Parson’s administration interfered with a House investigation into the state’s medical marijuana program. Parson has denied the allegations, saying they are meant to damage his chances at re-election. (Kansas City Star)

Zona Rosa center to demolish storefronts as part of redevelopment plan
The outdoor shopping center in Kansas City announced a multimillion-dollar renovation plan that involves tearing down a 25,000-square-foot building to create a park. The development has dozens of vacant retail spaces. (Kansas City Star)

Two MU students expelled, three suspended for flouting COVID-19 restrictions 
The students were expelled because they performed “willful and knowing actions” that threatened public health, according to a university email sent out on Tuesday. Eleven student organizations are also under investigation for allegedly violating COVID-19 health policies. (Columbia Missourian)

Springfield architecture firms merge  
Burns Architecture merged with Ireland Architects as Burns Architecture owner Larry Burns plans to retire. (Springfield Business Journal)

St. Louis startup fund has grown portfolio 44% since pandemic’s onset
While several venture capitalists have pulled back from new investment in early-stage companies amid the pandemic, the Spirit of St. Louis Fund has increased its portfolio from 16 to 23 startups since March. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Lawsuit alleges Anheuser-Busch beverages mislead consumers 
The federal lawsuit contends that Anheuser-Busch misleads consumers into believing that certain products, such as its Lime-A-Rita beverages, contain alcohol other than beer. Consumers who bought the company’s “rita” products believed they contained tequila, wine or rum, the lawsuit alleges. (St. Louis Business Journal)

State education board approves $8.5 billion budget for next fiscal year
The board voted on Tuesday in favor of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s $8.5 billion budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning next July. The plan, which heads to the governor’s office for consideration, marks an increase of less than 1% over the current budget. (Missourinet)

KC library launches multimillion-dollar outdoor amphitheater project
The Mid-Continent Public Library has started construction on a $6.8 million facility that will add a variety of outdoor amenities to its Woodneath Library Center. (Kansas City Business Journal)


Say that again

“It feels like there’s kind of a big reset happening. A lot more people are focusing on their family, their homes, you know, the stuff in our immediate vicinity. People’s bubbles have shrunk.”

That’s Kansas City resident John Buhr, speaking about the recent rise in home improvement projects that both he and others across the country have been engaging in since the onset of the pandemic, KCUR reports. There has been a marked increase in demand for home improvement materials, leading to many products being in short supply. However, many remodelers have found resourceful ways to complete their projects with salvaged or improvised materials. Some homeowners have found themselves with excess funds that they would have spent traveling or on other activities that have been limited due to the pandemic, so they have decided to reinvest that money in their homes.


Go figure

16

Washington University in St. Louis tied for 16th in the “national universities” category of the new Best Colleges ranking released by U.S. News. That’s up three spots from last year. Other Missouri schools ranked on the national universities list included St. Louis University, which tied for 103rd, and the University of Missouri, which tied for 124th. Truman State University in Kirksville topped Missouri’s contingent on the list of Midwestern “regional universities,” ranking in a tie for No. 7. On another list, focused on “regional colleges” in the Midwest, Cottey College in Nevada was rated No. 1. The annual report ranks colleges and universities according to several metrics, including their ability to retain and graduate students, as well as class size, undergraduate academic reputation and how much they spend on instruction.


Hello, my name is

Provider Pool

This St. Louis-based startup, which focuses on connecting nurses with health care facilities, wrapped up the Techstars Kansas City accelerator program last month and is eyeing aggressive growth in the coming months. Founder Janna Westbrook created the platform in 2018 following her struggles with staffing and finding enough nurses to fill open positions. The system allows nurses to create a profile and upload their credentials to the site, then alerts them of job openings in their area. Westbrook said demand for nursing driven by the coronavirus has encouraged more health care providers to try Provider Pool, resulting in the startup growing “100% month-over-month” for the last several months.


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