Missouri Minute: States unveil $26 billion opioid settlement proposal; Wentzville aerospace plant idling operations

Hello, MBA readers,

On a day that Missouri reported its highest number of new COVID-19 cases in six months, Gov. Mike Parson announced an incentive program designed to boost vaccination rates in the state. Through the program, 900 Missourians who are vaccinated against COVID-19 will win $10,000 in a series of biweekly lotteries held between August and October. That announcement came at a press conference on Wednesday, during which Parson also named the new director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Donald Kauerauf, who previously served as assistant director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, will fill the position. In national health care news, a group of state attorneys general has announced a proposed $26 billion settlement with some of the country’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturers for their part in fueling the opioid epidemic. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt expects the state to receive “hundreds of millions of dollars” if the settlement is approved.


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State attorneys unveil $26 billion opioid settlement proposal
Under the proposal, drug companies would pay $26 billion for allegedly fueling the opioid epidemic. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt expects the state to receive “hundreds of millions of dollars” from the settlement. (Reuters)

Wentzville titanium products plant to be idled indefinitely 
Ohio-based Titanium Metals Corp., also known as Timet, which makes titanium products for the aerospace industry, will lay off 42 workers in September as it makes the move to halt operations. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Finley Farms to hire 80 ahead of opening
The restaurant and event space being opened in Ozark by Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris will host a career fair this weekend ahead of an anticipated August soft opening. (Springfield Business Journal)

General Motors makes Wentzville workers mask up
As COVID-19 cases increase, the automaker is requiring workers to wear masks again at its Wentzville plant. (Detroit News)

City Foundry STL’s food hall to open in August
The long-awaited food hall at the midtown St. Louis development will open Aug. 11 and feature 11 vendors. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Fast-growing developer acquires property for new HQ
NorthPoint Development purchased a 260,000-square foot campus from Cerner and plans to move its headquarters there by year’s end. (Kansas City Business Journal)

JetBlue to add two nonstop flights from KCI
Kansas City International Airport’s newest airline will offer nonstop flights to Boston and New York. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Goedeker’s hires new CFO
The St. Louis e-commerce company named Maria Johnson as its new chief financial officer, replacing Bob Barry, who shifts to chief accounting officer. (St. Louis Business Journal)


Say that again

“You hear these numbers, and they sound huge. But people have been off work for months and months and months.”

That’s Rachel Casey, executive director of the social service agency Community Assistance Council, speaking about the debt owed by many tenants in the Kansas City area, the Beacon reports. Though the city designated a fund with nearly $15 million in emergency rental assistance to help renters during the pandemic, need has exceeded that amount. Now all of the money in the fund is spoken for, but people are still struggling to pay their bills. Officials have recommended that renters needing aid apply to the state rental assistance fund.


Go figure

$10,000

Missouri residents who are vaccinated against COVID-19 can win $10,000 through a new state incentive program announced by Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday in an effort to boost vaccinations across the state. Vaccinated Missouri residents will be eligible to win that amount through a series of five lotteries taking place between August and October. In total, 900 residents will win. That announcement came as Missouri reported 3,031 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the highest daily total since January, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Public health officials blame low vaccination rates and the delta variant of the coronavirus for climbing case counts. Through Wednesday, 40.5% of Missourians were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data.


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Social media users have sung the praises of Adam Aron, the chief executive of AMC Entertainment, ever since the theater chain gained “meme stock” status amid a flurry of trading fueled by the internet message board Reddit. Now, Aron will see his job title expanded to include the role of chairman. Aron takes over for Lin Zhang of the Dalian Wanda Group, the Chinese conglomerate that, until recently, was AMC’s majority shareholder, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. Over 80% of the Kansas City-area cinema operator is now owned by retail investors, many of whom purchased shares during the recent frenzy that saw AMC reach record share prices this spring.


Hello, my name is

Donald Kauerauf

Gov. Mike Parson named Kauerauf as the new director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on Wednesday. Kauerauf previously served as the assistant director of the Illinois Department of Public Health until his retirement in 2018. Randall Williams, Missouri’s former top health official, resigned from the position in April. Williams gave no reason for the resignation, but he had faced criticism for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Word to the wise

Pop-up picnic

This term is used to describe the trend of premium picnics that a growing number of Missouri entrepreneurs have pounced on as a business opportunity. Businesses are now specializing in these events, which often involve high-end food, custom decor, and plush seating and table arrangements. The picnics have taken off amid the pandemic and the turn toward more outdoor dining, and they have caught fire on Instagram. “Pop-up picnics are very much social media-driven,” said Andrea Lyn Seppo, the owner of Andrea Lyn Events in Columbia. “I will say that 100% of my clients that I have gotten have been off of social media, and have been coming to me with a package in mind or a design that they want me to do.”


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


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