Missouri Minute: Airports expect half of typical traffic; officials plan for surge in COVID-19 patients

Hello, MBA readers,

As we enter what typically is one of the busiest travel weeks of the year, the state’s two biggest airports are expecting to see about half the traffic they did during the same period last year. Kansas City International Airport will service more than 200 flights daily for the first time since spring, but the number of passengers expected to travel through the airport is still less than half of what it was last year as COVID-19 case counts continue to rise. St. Louis Lambert International Airport has a similar outlook for Thanksgiving travel. As the aviation industry continues to deal with diminished demand, Missouri hospitals are bracing for pandemic needs that could exceed their supply of resources. Officials are considering opening a field hospital in the state to handle the expected influx of COVID-19 patients in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, work continues on the development and production of coronavirus vaccines, with a St. Louis-area facility playing a pivotal role in a vaccine that Pfizer plans to produce 50 million doses of by year’s end. Despite the hope inspired by promising early vaccine trials, one of the St. Louis area’s top pandemic experts cautions that a vaccine is the light at the end of “a very long tunnel.”


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Now hear this

Speaking Startup: A cornucopia of small-scale ag entrepreneurship
From honey to paw paws, the final pre-Thanksgiving episode of the Speaking Startup podcast features an abundance of Missouri produce. First, we explore the business of bees, checking in with entrepreneurs who are working to help the pollinator ecosystem and build businesses. Then, we look at the paw paw. The fruit hasn’t been widely commercialized, but some in the state see potential in paw paw-derived products, from brandy to gelato.


Stay alert

Officials plan for surge in COVID-19 patients
State and local officials are weighing options that include canceling all but the most urgent medical procedures, creating a field hospital and deploying the National Guard to assist overwhelmed medical facilities. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

St. Louis County restaurants denied in attempt to block indoor dining ban
A judge denied a request for a temporary restraining order against St. Louis County’s four-week ban on indoor dining. (KMOV)

Caleres to close most Naturalizer locations
The Clayton-based footwear company plans to close 133 brick-and-mortar stores under women’s shoe brand Naturalizer as it turns its focus more to digital sales channels. (Retail Dive)

White River Marine Group to expand, add jobs in Bolivar
The boat maker, which is a division of Bass Pro Shops, plans to expand its manufacturing space, adding an estimated 300 new jobs. (Springfield Business Journal)

Citi to expand in St. Louis
The financial services company plans to hire more than 100 new employees, primarily in mortgage and wealth management. (St. Louis Business Journal)

ESCO Technologies acquires California manufacturers
The Ladue-based company acquired Advanced Technology Machining and its affiliate, TECC Grinding, which manufacture precision metal parts. (St. Louis Business Journal)

TED Systems sold to Des Moines company
The Lenexa, Kansas-based fire detection and security system company was sold to Midwest Alarm Services. Terms were not disclosed. (Kansas City Business Journal)

St. Louis won’t be site of new Space Command facility
Neither St. Louis nor St. Clair County made the final list of sites being considered for the U.S. Space Command’s new headquarters. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Downtown Council seeks feedback on KC infrastructure options
Officials have invited public comment on proposed ideas for an improved multimodal transportation system in the city’s River Market neighborhood. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Research Medical Center settles claim over nurse’s death
The family of nurse Celia Yap-Banago, who died from COVID-19, has settled a claim alleging the hospital did not provide adequate personal protective equipment. (Kansas City Business Journal)

St. Louis Community College receives $1 million grant
Bank of America will fund job training for students of color as part of its larger $1 billion, four-year commitment to the advancement of racial equality. (St. Louis Business Journal)


Say that again

“I don’t want people to have this false assumption that we’re going to parachute in vaccines and everything is going to be great. It’s light at the end of tunnel, but I tell people it’s a very long tunnel.”

That’s Dr. Alex Garza, head of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force. Pfizer, which has a production facility in Chesterfield, plans to produce 50 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, and 1.3 billion next year, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. But even with the accelerated pace of production, the vaccine is not expected to be available to the general public until late spring or early summer. Some scientists still expect the effects of the outbreak to last another 18 months.


Go figure

55%

Thanksgiving week typically marks one of the biggest travel weeks of the year, but Kansas City International Airport is expecting 55% fewer passengers than last year between Nov. 20 and Dec. 1. The airport expects about 180,000 passengers in that span; last year, it saw about 400,000, The Kansas City Star reports. Despite the year-over-year decrease, KCI will be servicing at least 200 flights on four of the six days between Wednesday and next Monday, hitting daily flight totals the airport hasn’t seen since the onset of the pandemic in the spring. At St. Louis Lambert International Airport, officials expect a similar decline from 2019, projecting traffic this week to be about half of what it was around Thanksgiving last  year, St. Louis Public Radio reports.


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The environmental advocacy group weighed in on the fight over a planned pig farm near Chillicothe. United Hog Systems has planned a 10,500-pig concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO, in Livingston County, thanks to a state law signed last year that nullified local health ordinances meant to keep out CAFOs, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Opponents of the project say the facility’s air emissions and pig waste would destroy the landscape and hurt property values. Similar clashes are unfolding in other rural communities across Missouri.


Hello my name is

DataLocker

The Kansas City-area encryption technology provider has seen sales surge with the increase in people working from home due to the pandemic, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. DataLocker’s revenue has grown 40% over last year, and the company was one of the 13 to win Exporter of the Year honors from the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The company generates 20% to 25% of its revenue from exports, and its encryption technology is used in more than 40 countries.


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



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