Missouri Minute: Bird scooters return to Columbia; lawmakers OK take-home cocktails

Hello, MBA readers,

More businesses are weighing in as states across the U.S. consider measures that would restrict voting rights. An open letter advocating for voting access received support from hundreds of companies and individuals across the country. The action comes following efforts by Republicans to change election rules, most notably in Georgia. The letter appeared as an advertisement in The New York Times and The Washington Post, and it received backing from a wide range of companies, entrepreneurs and public figures. As companies attempt to navigate the political arena, they are preparing for impending economic growth. Retail sales increased 9.8% in March, and jobless claims last week fell to their lowest level since before the pandemic. Plus, as the weather warms, Bird is flying back to two local markets. The company has released its scooters on the streets of Columbia and Kansas City, Kansas.


Stay alert

Labor director questioned again over unemployment benefits
Missouri Senators grilled the head of the state’s labor department for the second time this week about efforts to collect unemployment benefits that were mistakenly paid out. The House has endorsed waivers for overpaid benefits. (Missouri Independent)

Missouri Senate endorses take-home cocktails
The measure to continue allowing sales of to-go cocktails after pandemic-related emergency rules expire heads back to the House for more debate. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Bird scooters return to Columbia, Kansas City
The scooters have hit the streets in Columbia and Kansas City, Kansas, with a few new rules and boundaries. (Columbia MissourianWDAF)

KC riverfront may see additional development
According to plans from the Kansas City Port Authority, the Berkley Riverfront Park could be the site of a new boutique hotel, bar and music venue. (Kansas City Star)

Guarantee Electrical acquires Colorado firm
The company, which is one of the St. Louis area’s largest electrical contractors, is purchasing Colorado Springs-based Berwick Electrical, adding about 140 employees. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Experience Realty Partners merging with global real estate firm
The St. Louis-based residential real estate brokerage will become part of eXp Realty, a Bellingham, Washington-based firm. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Nonprofit Rightfully Sewn looks to expand staff
Following a 2020 merger with fellow nonprofit Alphapointe, the Kansas City-based apparel maker has expanded its space and won new contracts, creating a need for 10 additional employees. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Rolling Hills Apartments files bankruptcy
The 128-unit St. Louis-area apartment complex has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy to avoid foreclosure. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Springfield Alamo Drafthouse Cinema to reopen
The theater, which has been closed intermittently over the last year because of the pandemic, will once again welcome moviegoers at the end of April. (Springfield Business Journal)


Say that again

“For American democracy to work for any of us, we must ensure the right to vote for all of us.”

Hundreds of companies and individuals came together to endorse a letter decrying laws limiting voting access. The show of solidarity comes as dozens of states around the country have seen efforts by Republicans to enact new election laws, The New York Times reports. The letter was displayed in the New York Times and The Washington Post as an advertisement. It featured backing from businesspeople with Missouri ties and companies with substantial operations in the state, ranging from Danny Meyer, the St. Louis native and Shake Shack founder, to Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, the St. Louis-based law firm.


Go figure

9.8%

March retail sales increased 9.8%, helped by the $1,400 stimulus checks that were part of the latest coronavirus relief package, the Associated Press reports. The increase followed a 3% drop the previous month, and it marked the highest jump since last May. That’s part of a wave of promising economic indicators, including a drop in weekly jobless claims to 576,000 — the lowest figure since the pandemic started.


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The St. Louis IT Entrepreneur Network, or ITEN, has issued an annual impact report detailing how the entrepreneurs and businesses in its network persevered through “unprecedented challenges” brought about by the pandemic in 2020, finding ways to create jobs, launch products and raise funding. According to the report, a total of 37 member companies hired in 2020, adding nearly 190 jobs. Since 2012, ITEN companies have created more than 1,900 jobs. Member companies continued to generate innovations despite the pandemic, launching 68 commercial products and securing eight patents, the report said.


Hello, my name is

Immersive Van Gogh

The “Immersive Van Gogh” exhibit will make an appearance in Kansas City in December, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. The exhibit is a digital experience that includes storytelling, animation, unique venues and digital art museums. Immersive Van Gogh made its North American debut in Toronto, and the company that designed it is now taking it across the U.S. The walk-through gallery features work from throughout Vincent Van Gogh’s career.


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