Missouri Minute: St. Louis County eviction ban ends; Parson won’t mandate vaccine passport

Hello, MBA readers,

The end of an eviction moratorium in St. Louis County could create uncertainty for thousands of households in the area. A local group has identified about 7,000 households at risk of eviction as the local moratorium is lifted Monday. Although a federal ban on evictions was extended through June, it does not provide automatic protection to renters. Advocates are working to educate tenants about securing that federal protection, and to help them apply for a piece of the $30 million in federal assistance available to local renters. As more Missourians receive COVID-19 vaccinations, Gov. Mike Parson said the state will not require so-called vaccine passports showing a person has been vaccinated. Missouri Republican lawmakers have resisted the idea of the passports, although Parson said he is fine with private businesses requiring vaccination documentation. And, in the Kansas City area, the dust continues to settle following the bankruptcy of a huge fast food franchisee. Legacy Restaurant Group has acquired 35 Wendy’s locations from NPC International, which has sold off hundreds of restaurants since filing for bankruptcy last year.


Stay alert

As St. Louis County eviction moratorium ends, advocates promote options
The county will begin carrying out eviction orders again after a pause for COVID-19. Advocates are working to inform renters of an ongoing federal moratorium, which requires tenants to file paperwork, and of $30 million in rental assistance available locally. (Missouri Independent)

Parson won’t mandate vaccine passport
The governor said Missouri won’t require documents showing travelers have been vaccinated against COVID-19, but he is comfortable with the private sector having such requirements. (Associated Press)

Johnson & Johnson vaccine losses not likely to affect Missouri
The state will not feel an immediate impact after the company lost up to 15 million vaccine doses because of a manufacturing mistake. Pfizer will account for short-term vaccine increases in Missouri, state health officials said. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

AMC mulls stock sale to buy back bonds, cover rent
The movie theater chain is considering selling up to 500 million shares to help pay down some of its debt, or giving shares directly to landlords for delayed rent payments. (Wall Street Journal)

Kansas City startup Simplifyy raises $5 million
San Diego-based venture capital firm UnitLeader led the Series A round in Simplifyy, which makes software for rental property managers. (Startland News)

Halal Guys restaurant plans expansion into KC area 
A local franchisee plans to open five locations of the New York-based chain, which specializes in foods allowed under Islamic dietary laws. (Kansas City Star)

Prime Capital Investment Advisors acquires Arkansas firm
The transaction adds about 200 clients and three advisors to the Overland Park, Kansas-based wealth management firm’s existing Fayetteville office. (Kansas City Business Journal)

54th Street Grill locations to undergo makeover
Multiple locations of the North Kansas City-based bar and restaurant chain will be rebranded as the 54th Street Restaurant & Drafthouse. Some will add space for lawn games and live music. (Kansas City Star)

Hyperlocal KC paper gets boost after running blank front page
Kansas City’s Northeast News received more than $3,000 in pledged donations and advertisers to help keep it afloat after the weekly paper published an issue with blank front page to illustrate a future without local news. (Associated Press)


Say that again

“We need to see how we can diversify our sources of funds to make us not so dependent on the earnings tax should the voters ever decide that they don’t want to pay it anymore.”

That’s St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, discussing the need for the city to find alternatives to the 1% earnings tax that generates about one-third of its general revenue. The tax, which must be approved every five years, will be on the St. Louis ballot Tuesday alongside the mayoral race. The two finalists for mayor, Jones and Alderwoman Cara Spencer, both have expressed willingness to consider changes to the tax, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. However, both women also voiced support for the tax. In a recent candidate forum, Jones and Spencer diverged in their views of the city’s approach to economic development. Spencer said she would devote more resources to city planning, and that she would fund the St. Louis Development Corp. — the city’s development arm — through general revenue, instead of through fees from incentive deals, as it’s funded now. Jones said she would take a proactive approach to city planning, but that she would not change how the development agency is funded. In the forum, the mayoral candidates also discussed their views on uplifting the downtown area, spending half a billion dollars of federal stimulus money, reducing violence in the city and developing St. Louis Lambert International Airport.


Go figure

500

There are about 500 independent pharmacies in Missouri, a decrease of roughly 30% from more than 720 two decades ago, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. While independent pharmacies have long played an important role in their communities, they have faced significant challenges with the increased influence of pharmacy benefit managers, which were established as intermediaries for drug manufacturers, insurers and pharmacies. Ron Fitzwater, CEO of the Missouri Pharmacy Association, said reimbursement issues related to pharmacy benefit managers are the “key culprits” in the decline of independent pharmacies. Today, chain pharmacies account about 70% of all prescriptions filled. That leaves independent drugstores to fight for survival by differentiating themselves with services like diabetes and asthma counseling, smoking cessation tools, free delivery of medications and, most recently, administration of COVID-19 vaccines.


Hello, my name is

Legacy Restaurant Group

The Overland Park, Kansas-based Legacy Restaurant Group has bought 35 Wendy’s locations from NPC International, the Kansas City-area restaurant group that filed for bankruptcy in July, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition brings Legacy’s total location count to 51 eateries in Missouri and Kansas, and the group plans to add more stores. Legacy now employs more than 1,300 people. NPC was the largest franchisee of Wendy’s and Pizza Hut before the bankruptcy. Flynn Restaurant Group of San Francisco acquired more than 1,100 restaurants formerly owned by NPC in the bankruptcy proceedings.


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