Missouri Minute: BJC HealthCare announces vaccine mandate; Worlds of Fun to reduce operations

Hello, MBA readers,

BJC HealthCare and Washington University have announced they will require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by late summer. Some see the move by two of the St. Louis area’s largest employers as likely to encourage other businesses to embrace vaccine mandates, but the vast majority of employers in Missouri have not adopted similar requirements. Meanwhile, Kansas City theme park Worlds of Fun will be closing on certain weekdays during the month of June because of a staffing shortage. The park will close on Tuesdays and Wednesdays as it works to bring aboard more employees. And, shifting from rollercoasters to marriage, the wedding industry is bouncing back after struggling when the pandemic hit. With the widespread return of larger ceremonies, many businesses that cater to weddings are seeing an unprecedented influx of customers.


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Judge weighs letting new plaintiffs join Medicaid expansion lawsuit
Plaintiffs’ attorneys told a Cole County judge that allowing new plaintiffs to join a lawsuit over whether Missouri must provide Medicaid coverage to an expanded population of low-income adults could delay resolution of the case beyond the July 1 start date for that coverage. (Missouri Independent)

Worlds of Fun to reduce operations 
The Kansas City theme park will close two days a week through the end of June due to staffing shortages. (Kansas City Star)

Town Center Plaza majority owner files for bankruptcy
Washington Prime Group, the Ohio-based majority owner of the Town Center Plaza and Town Center Crossing mall properties in the Kansas City area, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, securing $100 million in financing. (Kansas City Business Journal)

St. Clair Auto Mall hits the market
As longtime tenant Auffenberg Auto Group gears up to move, the nearly 20-acre St. Clair Auto Mall in O’Fallon, Illinois, is up for sale. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Larson Capital Management closes on Dallas office tower 
The St. Louis private equity firm has closed on the purchase of a 10-story office tower in the Dallas area. Terms were not disclosed, but officials said it was the largest deal in Larson’s history. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Missouri Job Center opens pop-up venue in downtown Springfield
The temporary location, open this Wednesday and Thursday, will provide job seekers services including resume assistance, skills assessments and information on workshops. (Springfield Business Journal)

Columbia Raising Cane’s seeking job applicants
The fast food chain is seeking to fill 80 jobs in various positions for a store opening this fall. It’s the first location in Columbia and 19th in Missouri. (Columbia Missourian)


Say that again

“Movies are important because it’s just a little bit of normalcy. With all the craziness going on, it’s nice to go and just sit and watch a movie and forget about the craziness for just two hours.”

That’s Wesley Halsey, general manager of the GQT Forum 8 movie theater in Columbia, sharing his perspective on the return of customers to movie theaters. As conditions during the course of the pandemic have improved and movie theaters have begun to reopen, moviegoers have returned at varying rates. Some theaters saw few customers upon initially reopening in the fall, but business has since increased. Cinema operators have struggled through pandemic closures, and some industry observers say consumers’ shift from theaters to streaming during the pandemic may have been an acceleration toward the inevitable. According to movie industry data source The Numbers, ticket sales peaked in 2002 and have steadily decreased since then, reaching a record low in 2020. Still, for some, streaming from the couch can’t match the experience of viewing movies in theaters.


Go figure

23.4%

The median home price in Jackson County increased 23.4% over the last year, to $240,000 this May from $194,500 in May 2020. Finding a house to buy in the Kansas City area has become an increasingly difficult task, with some prospective buyers putting offers on several properties before finally closing on a house, the Beacon reports. This increase in home value, combined with the 4.3% decline in household income in the Kansas City area, placed the city in the top five of cities with the greatest year-over-year decline in affordability. Many young homebuyers are being outbid by people offering to buy houses in cash, often for tens of thousands of dollars more than the appraised value of the property.


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BJC HealthCare and Washington University both announced that they will require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by late summer, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Both are major employers in the St. Louis region, and some wonder whether their move will encourage other businesses to enforce similar mandates. So far, though, most Missouri employers have balked at vaccine mandates, opting for other tactics to encourage vaccination. There has been pushback to the idea of employers mandating vaccination, as COVID-19 vaccines have not received final approval from the Food and Drug Administration. However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released new guidance late last month affirming employers’ right to require vaccinations.


Hello, my name is

Aoifinn Devitt

She has been hired as the new chief investment officer at St. Louis-based wealth management firm Moneta, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. Devitt, who specializes in international investment strategy, is the first woman to be appointed CIO with the firm. She will be based out of Chicago, which expands Moneta’s geographical footprint.


Word to the wise

Minimonies

This term was coined in response to the trend of downsizing wedding ceremonies during the pandemic, The Kansas City Star reports. A “minimony” is used to refer to a wedding with small guest list — sometimes 10 people or fewer — and the expectation of a larger ceremony in the future when conditions are more favorable for large gatherings. With the easing of health orders across the state, those larger ceremonies are now being held, and in great numbers. With a backlog of wedding ceremonies from 2020 combined with 2021 wedding demand during the typically busy summer months, wedding industry vendors associated have seen a boom in business.


It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning.


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