Missouri Minute: COVID-19 variant detected in wastewater; Amazon hiring 500 in Springfield area

Hello, MBA readers,

The Biden administration has announced changes to the Paycheck Protection Program in an effort to reach the smallest American businesses and do so in a more equitable way. For two weeks starting Wednesday, only businesses with fewer than 20 employees will be allowed to apply for the federal coronavirus relief loans. The administration also lifted other restrictions on the federal funding ahead of the March 31 application deadline. In Missouri, following concerns about the effect COVID-19 would have on the state’s bottom line, the state is now projecting a record budget surplus of about $1.1 billion. That surplus could grow with approval of a proposed $1.9 trillion federal coronavirus relief package. Plus, new wastewater testing points to the widespread presence of a COVID-19 variant in Missouri. Evidence of the variant, which was originally detected in the U.K. and has been shown to spread more quickly, has been found in samples from 13 wastewater systems across the state.

Stay alert

PPP loan changes aim to boost smallest businesses, bring ‘equitable relief’
The Biden administration on Monday announced changes to the Paycheck Protection Program that will alter how the federal coronavirus relief loans for businesses are disbursed. (MBA)

COVID-19 variant detected in wastewater across Missouri 
Samples have shown the presence of B.1.1.7, a more transmissible variant of COVID-19 first detected in the U.K, in 13 wastewater systems across the state, causing researchers to express surprise. The state has confirmed only one case of the variant. (KCURSt. Louis Post-Dispatch)

KC developer plans two projects next to proposed Google site
Hunt Midwest plans to develop two buildings with nearly 700,000 square feet of space near where Google has proposed a $600 million data center. The buildings represent a $40 million investment that could create about 400 jobs. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Cerner to pay more than $4 million to settle retirement plan lawsuit
The North Kansas City-based health information technology firm has agreed to a settlement that covers 26,000 employees who claimed Cerner mismanaged its 401(K) plan. (KCUR)

Amazon to hire roughly 500 employees in southwest Missouri
The e-commerce company is working with the Missouri Job Center to hire full-time workers for a distribution and fulfillment center in Republic and a delivery station in Springfield. The starting wage for the positions is $15 an hour. (Springfield Business Journal)

Two St. Louis nonprofits receive certifications that increase access to capital
Justine Petersen and Urban Strategies received Community Development Financial Institution certifications that could enable them to raise millions of dollars in additional capital to support entrepreneurial development for minorities. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Southwest Missouri Council of Governments issued CARES Act grant 
Small businesses and entrepreneurs can apply for pandemic-related financial assistance through the council, which serves 10 counties. (Springfield Business Journal)

State agriculture department plans to update pesticide training 
The department is revamping the program for farmers to make it accessible online and compliant with new federal rules. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Say that again

“Before the pandemic, in Missouri, it was one in seven children facing daily food insecurity. Now, it’s one in four. That’s really high and is not something that we deem as acceptable. And so we wanted to see what we can do for both the restaurants and for the food insecure.”

That’s Andrew Glantz, founder of St. Louis-based startup GiftAMeal. The company, a for-profit social venture founded before the pandemic, makes an app designed to help restaurants with marketing. GiftAMeal utilizes a concept called “take a photo to give a meal,” donating food to combat hunger for every photo shared in its app. As the COVID-19 pandemic threatens the survival of many restaurants and exacerbates food insecurity, GiftAMeal has been forced to adjust, but Glantz said people are “becoming more socially conscious and are looking to support socially conscious businesses.”

Go figure

$1.1 billion

Gov. Mike Parson has announced that the state could see a surplus of about $1.1 billion for its current fiscal year, the Missouri Independent reports. After the belt-tightening that the governor enacted at the onset of the pandemic, the state has fared better than expected financially, leading to the possibility of the largest surplus in state history. That surplus could grow if the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion
stimulus package is approved, funneling an additional $4.5 billion into the state’s coffers.

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Boeing has recommended airlines ground 777 planes with engines like the United Airlines aircraft that caught fire and rained debris over Denver this weekend, the Associated Press reports. It marks another setback for the aviation and defense company, which employs thousands of people in the St. Louis area in its defense division. Boeing reported a record annual loss last month after seeing demand dry up amid the pandemic and facing fallout from crashes of two 737 Max planes.

Hello, my name is

Kings Conquer

Kansas City-based company Pro Athlete has adopted this name for its latest collection, which honors the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. The company’s Routine brand launched the collection, which features hoodies, T-shirts, beanies and baseball caps. The company has expressed hope that featuring the history of the Negro Leagues will inspire its customers to visit the museum.


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