Missouri Minute: White House grades Missouri C-minus for infrastructure; unemployment clawbacks stoke fresh concern

Hello, MBA readers,

Following the Biden administration’s proposal of a $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, the White House on Monday released a state-by-state review of infrastructure across the country. Missouri received a C-minus, with the report card highlighting almost 2,200 bridges and more than 7,500 miles of highway in poor condition and needing repairs. That disrepair has led to a 5.9% increase in commute time over the last decade, according to the scorecard. In Jefferson City, the state labor department is under scrutiny for accounts of renewed aggressive attempts to recover excessive unemployment benefits the state paid in error amid the pandemic. Lawmakers had struck a deal with the labor department to pause those recovery efforts. And, in the Kansas City area, a whirlwind stretch continues for AMC Entertainment. The cinema chain’s biggest investor has sold off more than $220 million worth of the company’s stock since the start of February, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The U.S. entertainment arm of the Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group has reduced its stake in AMC to less than 7% of the company, down from more than 30% in early December.

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White House report grades Missouri C-minus for infrastructure
The Biden administration pushed for a $2.3 trillion infrastructure package with a new report rating roads, bridges, the power grid and other infrastructure in each state. The report say nearly 2,200 bridges and more than 7,500 miles of highway in Missouri are in poor condition. (Associated Press)

Lawmakers worry labor department is violating unemployment agreement
The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations last month agreed to pause efforts to collect unemployment benefits mistakenly overpaid to some Missourians amid the pandemic. Some lawmakers say they have heard about new collection efforts, potentially violating that agreement. (Missouri Independent)

Page, Bush call St. Louis County to halt evictions amid pandemic
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and U.S. Rep. Cori Bush on Monday asked the St. Louis County Council to pass an emergency ordinance temporarily suspending evictions by fully implementing a federal moratorium. (KSDK)

Chinese investor sells AMC stock worth more than $220 million 
Wanda America Entertainment, a division of the Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group, has sold more than 15.6 million shares of AMC Entertainment stock in three transactions since Feb. 1. Wanda still owns roughly 30.5 million shares, or 6.8% of outstanding AMC stock. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Missouri Senate considers biodiesel mandate 
A bill passed by the Missouri House would require all diesel fuel sold in the state to be blended with Missouri-grown soybean oil. Agricultural groups support the move, but other business groups worry it will increase prices locally and drive truckers to other states for fuel. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Centene sued for ‘pillaging and plundering’ pharmacy it acquired
The part owner of Wildwood compounding pharmacy Foundation Care filed a lawsuit alleging Clayton-based health insurer Centene took steps that drove down the value of Foundation Care after acquiring it in 2017. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Telle Tire & Auto Center closes on Springfield acquisition
The fast-growing St. Louis-based auto care chain completed its purchase of JBC Tire Complete Auto Care, adding two stores in Springfield. It marks Telle’s third acquisition since last March. (St. Louis Business Journal)

KC logistics company expands with move to new location 
Scarbrough Warehousing will move operations to a 226,000-square-foot facility at the new Liberty Logistics Center, helping the company triple its warehouse space in the Kansas City region. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Springfield mural festival eclipses crowdfunding goal
The MidxMidwst Arts & Culture Initiative surpassed its $10,000 Kickstarter campaign goal to support a September arts festival in downtown Springfield. (Springfield Business Journal)

Say that again

“If no one were in favor of progress … we would still be living by a kerosene lamp and going to the outhouse. You have to be in favor of progress.”

That’s Donna Inglis, who, with her husband, owns a farm in Randolph County, speaking in favor of building the Grain Belt Express, The Kansas City Star reports. Developers say the planned power transmission line is still on course to be operational by 2025. If completed, it would move wind energy from Kansas to eastern states. It would also be able to transmit energy in the opposite direction, a prospect made more appealing by the rolling blackouts experienced in February. However, some landowners and lawmakers in Missouri continue to resist the plan. Despite the Missouri Public Service Commission approving the project in 2019, legislators are considering a bill that would make construction of the project nearly impossible. Opponents say the line would violate property rights and provide little public value. Others, like Inglis, see the project as needed progress.

Go figure


A gender gap has emerged in the administration of COVID-19 vaccines. In Missouri, 35.5% of women have received an initial vaccine dose, according to the state dashboard, compared to 27.9% of men. A similar gap is evident across the country, as women account for roughly 60% of all vaccinations so far across the U.S. Other demographic vaccine information shows that Black Missourians are lagging behind in vaccination rates. Black residents account for about 7% of the state’s vaccinated population despite making up about 11% of the overall population. That’s leading some communities to find creative ways to encourage people to get a vaccine, The Beacon reports.

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The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City has struck another licensing deal, this time with Kansas City-based beer maker Boulevard Brewing, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. The brewery has launched a new blonde ale in honor of the Negro Leagues, called Tip Your Cap Baseball Beer. It’s the latest in a series of recent licensing deals for the museum. The museum also has partnered with apparel companies Charlie Hustle and Pro Athlete to launch special clothing lines, and it teamed with the independent Kansas City T-Bones baseball team to rebrand them as the Kansas City Monarchs. Some proceeds from the sale of the new beer will go to fund the museum.

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Rezilient Health

This St. Louis telehealth startup was named a semifinalist in the $10 million ANA Avatar XPRIZE contest, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. The four-year global startup competition requires companies to create robotic avatar systems in an effort to “transport human presence to a remote location in real time.” The St. Louis startup, founded in 2016, has developed a robotic telehealth program that allows for the remote operation of medical devices by physicians. It is one of 38 startups that will compete in the semifinals, which take place later this year.


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