Missouri Minute: Business, labor groups promote gas tax hike; St. Louis County delays eviction vote

Hello, MBA readers,

As Missouri lawmakers continue to deliberate over a bill that would increase the state’s gas tax, major business and labor interests backing the measure have released a report aimed at illustrating its upside. The bill would increase the fuel tax by 12.5 cents per gallon over five years, generating a projected $450 million per year for Missouri roads and bridges. According to a new report from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Missouri AFL-CIO, the measure could create at least 9,800 jobs in the state. Shifting gears from roads to air travel, the state’s two largest airports have announced new flights, in anticipation of an uptick in both business and leisure travelers. Kansas City International Airport will begin offering service from a new carrier, JetBlue Airways, and American Airlines is adding service to Boston later this year from St. Louis Lambert International Airport. And, in startup investing, a fast-growing Kansas City-area company has landed a big funding haul from some high-profile backers. Replica, a Google spinoff that specializes in data for urban planning, raised $41 million in a Series B funding round that includes investment from billionaire Peter Thiel’s firm.


Stay alert

Wentzville GM plant to temporarily reduce shifts
Temporary cutbacks driven by a global semiconductor shortage will cause the General Motors factory to go from three production shifts to two starting next week. (KSDK)

St. Louis County Council delays vote over evictions
The council delayed an expected vote over adopting federal eviction guidelines. The proposed measure would halt nearly 600 evictions through June 30. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Swift Prepared Foods to build Columbia plant
The Italian meats producer officially announced the move after securing city, county and state incentives. The company will invest $200 million in the plant, which is expected to create 251 jobs. (Columbia Missourian)

Online sales tax passes Missouri House committee
A bill proposing an online sales tax for out-of-state retailers passed the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday, moving a step closer to a House vote. The measure already passed the Senate with bipartisan support. (Columbia Missourian)

KCI to add JetBlue Airways service
The carrier will begin nonstop service from Kansas City International Airport to Boston and New York. It’s the first new carrier to add flights at KCI since IcelandAir in 2018. (Kansas City Star)

American Airlines adding Boston flights from St. Louis
The airline will begin service form St. Louis Lambert International Airport to Boston in November. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Transactly acquires Florida firm
The St. Louis-based real estate technology startup has purchased SoMo Transactions, a four-person company that provides transaction assistance to realtors. (St. Louis Business Journal)


Say that again

“Our customers are ready to get out and do something. They missed out in 2020. The future’s very, very rosy.”

That’s Steve Hartley, co-owner of Dick’s 5 & 10, a general store and tourist attraction in Branson, speaking about the uptick in visitors during 2021, The Kansas City Star reports. There has been some concern about how the recent repeal of a mask mandate in the southwest Missouri tourism hotbed will impact the number of visitors coming to town. Business owners say their customers’ views on mask requirements have been a mixed bag. Though some guests may be deterred by the rollback of the mandate, others are coming from areas with more restrictions and enjoy the chance to travel at all. Even before the mandate was lifted, signs pointed to a strong year for the local economy: Branson saw increased numbers for amusements, campgrounds and nightly rentals in January and February, and some businesses are expecting a record year.


Go figure

9,800

A gas tax increase currently being debated by the Missouri Legislature would create at least 9,800 jobs, with the potential to create up to 24,800, according to a coalition of business and labor groups supporting the measure. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Missouri AFL-CIO issued a report indicating that an increase of 12.5 cents per gallon to the state’s existing gas tax of 17 cents per gallon would also raise earnings across Missouri by $722 million, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Lawmakers have less than four weeks left in this year’s session to decide the fate of the bill.


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Kansas City-area technology startup Replica announced Wednesday that it has raised $41 million in a Series B funding round, Startland News reports. Founders Fund, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm whose investments include Lyft, Airbnb and Spotify, led the round. Other investors included Innovation Endeavors, Firebrand, Sidewalk Labs and Rise of the Rest Fund. Replica was spun out of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. The startup makes enterprise software designed to provide insight into city data, including employment, mobility, consumer spending and land use. It sells its services to cities, counties, states and regional planning services looking to better understand their environment.


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