Missouri Minute: St. Louis County Council votes to halt evictions; Branson abandons mask mandate

Hello, MBA readers,

One of Missouri’s top tourist destinations is doing away with its mask mandate. Following the election of Mayor Larry Milton and a new Board of Aldermen earlier this month, Branson has repealed a local mask order, which was implemented last summer to guard against the spread of COVID-19. Milton campaigned on the issue, telling voters that getting rid of with the city’s mandate would be one of his first actions in office. Meanwhile, the St. Louis County Council has moved to temporarily halt evictions. The move would stay about 600 evictions in the county that were restarted earlier this month under a local court order. And, in an effort to address food insecurity in the state, a bill in the Missouri House aims to incentivize investment in such areas. The measure would offer tax credits for establishing urban farms or full-service groceries in areas that lack access to nutritious fresh food.


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St. Louis County Council votes to halt evictions
The council advanced legislation that would temporarily stop nearly 600 evictions started earlier this month. St. Louis County circuit courts allowed evictions to resume April 5. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Branson abandons mask mandate under new mayor
The Branson Board of Aldermen voted to repeal a mask mandate enacted to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the popular tourist destination. The change comes after the election of a new mayor, Larry Milton, who campaigned as an anti-mask candidate. (Associated Press)

Bidder boosts offer as Aegion haggling continues
New York-based investment fund New Mountain Capital has increased its offer to buy out Aegion, the Chesterfield-based water and sewer repair company. The company increased its bid by $3 per share to $30, or $1.1 billion including debt. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Kansas City tech park inches closer to $8.2 billion in incentives
Developers of Golden Plains Technology Park, an almost 800-acre data center campus, appeared before a Kansas City Council committee Wednesday, gaining committee approval for industrial revenue bonds. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Missouri bill would provide tax credit to address food deserts 
A bill heard by a house committee Tuesday would give tax credits up to $1,000 for an individuals who incur costs setting up an urban farm in a food desert. It would also incentivize opening grocery stores in those areas. (Columbia Missourian)


Say that again

“We are shifting the cost of higher education in the state of Missouri over to students or the parents.”

That’s Rep. Donna Baringer, D-St. Louis, commenting on a bill making its way through the Missouri Legislature that would allow state universities to increase their tuition rates without any state restrictions, KCUR reports. The measure, which passed the Missouri House on Tuesday, offers a way for universities to generate more revenue amid long-term declines in state funding. If the bill becomes law, rate increases could begin in July 2022. Meanwhile, three of the four University of Missouri system campuses are reporting elevated enrollment numbers for the fall, St. Louis Public Radio reports. Relative to last year, the number of deposits from incoming freshmen at this point is up 27% at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the Missouri University of Science and Technology, and 10% at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. This contrasts with national trends, which show a decrease in college enrollment. However, with more than four months until the start of the fall semester, these numbers are subject to change.


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Three Missouri companies are among the 100 best companies to work for in 2021, according to an annual ranking by Fortune magazine. St. Louis-based financial advisory Edwards Jones ranks 20th. Veterans United, the Columbia-based mortgage lender, is 33rd. Maryland Heights-based technology services company World Wide Technology checks in at No. 73, marking its 10th consecutive year on the list. The ranking of companies with at least 1,000 U.S. employees was compiled using confidential surveys completed by more than 500,000 workers, according to Fortune.


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Interplay

This is one of two Kansas City startups recently added to Digital Sandbox KC, a proof-of-concept program designed to help early-stage startups toward commercialization. Interplay was created by Jonaie Johnson, a University of Missouri-Kansas City student who plays on the women’s basketball team and won the school’s 2020 Student Entrepreneur of the Year award. Interplay is developing a device that allows dog owners to view and interact with their pets remotely. The second company selected by Digital Sandbox KC is Bodify. The startup was founded by Carlanda McKinney and aims to use computer vision and artificial intelligence help online shoppers find the right size of clothing.


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