Missouri Minute: Railroad deal expected to open new commodities markets; Blues to sell tickets to general public

Hello, MBA readers,

As part of the $1.9 trillion federal COVID-19 relief bill, private pension plans are set to receive $86 billion in grants. The funds are targeted toward pensions that are struggling the most financially. That includes the Teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund, which covers about 30,000 workers and retirees in Missouri. Elsewhere, February’s frigid cold temperatures that caused natural gas prices spike across the country, are still being felt — in the form of huge bills. Kansas City International Airport reported it saw a 3,000% increase in its monthly bill. Mayor Quinton Lucas said to “expect further talks” about the $2.4 million charge. And, in St. Louis, the Blues may be receiving an energy boost soon as they announced the opening of ticket sales to the general public starting Friday. The capacity at Enterprise Arena has been bumped up to 23%, meaning 4,100 fans will be able to attend home games.


Stay alert

Kansas City Southern sale expected to open new markets for commodities producers
Agriculture groups say the $25 billion purchase of the Kansas City-based railroad operator could smooth the flow of goods along stretches of railway running throughout Canada, into the U.S., and down to Mexico, increasing access to markets that were previously unreachable. (Reuters)

St. Louis County to allow some evictions
State courts in the county will be lifting the eviction moratorium in cases involving criminal activity. (St. Louis Business Journal)

RiverVest Venture Partners raises $275 million fund
It’s the fifth fund raised by the Clayton-based venture capital firm, which has invested in 55 medical startups over two decades. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

St. Louis Blues to sell tickets to general public
The hockey team announced that sales will begin on Friday, as the seating capacity at Enterprise Arena has been raised to 4,100. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Springfield church aids homeless with stimulus checks
The Connecting Grounds Church and homeless advocacy group Gathering Friends have been helping individuals that are unhoused claim missed stimulus checks. (Springfield News-Leader)

White River Marine begins producing boats at Bolivar plant
The boat manufacturing division of Bass Pro Shops has started making Tracker boats at a Bolivar facility purchased last year. The factory is expected to create 250 new full-time jobs at peak capacity. (Springfield Business Journal)

Drury University to distribute stimulus to students
The Springfield university will distribute $1.2 million in federal stimulus funding directly to students, based on financial need. (Springfield Business Journal)

National HealthCare to build in Maryland Heights
The Tennessee-based company has started construction on a 16-bed psychiatric center. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Husch Blackwell moving Springfield offices
The law firm, which has about 30 staff in its Springfield office, will downsize from about 19,000 square feet to 14,500 square feet. (Springfield Business Journal)


Say that again

“People are interested in a zero-waste lifestyle, but they think they might be judged. Any step you’re taking is in the right direction.”

That’s Tara Morton, program director for Perennial, a community workshop in St. Louis that teaches crafting and woodworking using salvaged materials. The workshop initially had programs with names featuring the term “zero waste,” but those struggled to attract participants, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. It eventually rebranded the workshops with names like “Recycled Laundry Soap” and “DIY Lip Balms and More,” and those sold out. The popularity of such programs has been a growing trend in the St. Louis area, where more businesses are meeting demand for personal care products compatible with sustainable living.


Go figure

$86 billion

That is how much money is being directed toward struggling private pension plans under the latest $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. The money serves as long-awaited help for plans that are facing uncertain financial futures. A total of 65 plans were designated as having “critical and declining” status, and another 121 have been deemed “critical.” Pensions with either of those designations qualify to receive some of the aid. Among the plans set to benefit from the provision is the Teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund, which represents 360,000 retirees and workers across the Midwest and has been projected to run out of money in 2026. There are more than 30,000 Central States participants in Missouri, according to a 2018 fact sheet.


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Kansas City International Airport saw a massive spike in its February natural gas bill. The airport received a $2.4 million bill, which is well above its usual bill of about $80,000, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said. That represents a 3,000% increase for the airport, WDAF reports. The massive bill comes after a month that saw a cold snap drive up natural gas prices throughout the country.


Hello, my name is

Black Pantry

The Kansas City boutique sells food, home goods and other essentials from Black-owned vendors. Brian Roberts founded Black Pantry last September, and he planned to operate it as a series of pop-up shops in 2021, Startland News reports. However, Made in KC, which runs several marketplaces that house boutiques like Black Pantry, reached out to Roberts about him opening a brick-and-mortar shop in Midtown Kansas City this spring. The store is set to open April 17.


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