Missouri Minute: Big employers delay return to office; Missouri celebrates bicentennial

Hello, MBA readers,

Missouri is getting old. As of Tuesday, the state will have enjoyed 200 years as a star on the flag, having been signed into statehood by President James Monroe on Aug. 10, 1821. In honor of that, the Show-Me state is looking to celebrate. Commemorative events are kicking off across Missouri, starting Friday with Columbia’s Together for ’21 Fest and continuing through the bicentennial-themed state fair in Sedalia, which is set to run Aug. 12-22. The forthcoming festivities come amid rising COVID-19 cases, which are reaching levels not seen since winter in some parts of the state. That’s forcing some big employers to rethink the reopening of their offices. Clayton-based health insurer Centene, as well as Wells Fargo, which also has a large St. Louis employee presence, have both announced delays in their return-to-office plans. Both companies have pushed their in-person comebacks to October, with Centene requiring proof of vaccination from employees as soon as possible. Also, Friday could be a momentous day for Medicaid in Missouri. A hearing in Cole County Court could determine a date for the state to begin accepting applications for Medicaid from newly eligible individuals.

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Speaking Startup: A tale of two types of retail
The latest episode of the Speaking Startup podcast features stories of two very different kinds of retail entrepreneurs. First, we visit with St. Louis entrepreneur Doug Spencer. He’s co-CEO of Bold Xchange, an ecommerce startup looking to boost Black-owned businesses by providing them the exposure and connections they need to grow. Then, we head to an Amish community in rural eastern Missouri to learn about the entrepreneurs there — and how the pandemic has driven a surge in demand for their products.

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National unemployment claims fall; state claims rise
U.S. jobless claims last week declined by 14,000, to 385,000. Missouri claims increased minimally, to about 6,800. (Associated Press)

Health officials warn of COVID-19 infections in children
As the delta variant spreads in Missouri, hospitals are seeing more children admitted with the coronavirus. (Missouri Independent)

MU Health Care to require COVID-19 vaccinations
All employees of the Columbia-based hospital system must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1, affecting more than 10,000 people. (Columbia Missourian)

Wells Fargo postpones return to office
The financial services company, which employs about 5,500 people in St. Louis, is pushing the start of its return-to-office plan from September to October, citing rising COVID-19 rates. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Cerner campus sale could cost Sporting KC parent millions
OnGoal, the soccer team’s parent company, could be responsible for a bill of up to $15 million because of a joint development deal it made in 2010 with health care IT company Cerner, which is looking to sell its property near the soccer team’s stadium. (Kansas City Business Journal)

MU business school receives $5 million gift
The donation will be used to establish the Allen Access Program, which will provide scholarships and programs to support students in need. (Associated Press)

Centene delays return to in-person work
Employees will now return in mid-October. They will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or undergo regular testing. (Reuters)

Aetna, CVS Health to return state health insurance market
The two health insurance providers announced plans to enter the individual insurance exchange market in Missouri in 2022. (St. Louis Post- Dispatch)

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National unemployment dropped to 5.4% in July, down half a percentage point, marking the largest one-month decrease since October. Total nonfarm payroll employment jumped up by 943,000 jobs, just slightly more than June’s revised total of 938,000. Job gains were once again concentrated in the leisure and hospitality industry, which tacked on 380,000 jobs.

Say that again

“Make your own rules up too. You can’t be safe enough. You can’t be cautious enough. Keep your space. Keep your distance.”

That’s country singer Garth Brooks — no, really — talking about health and safety measures for his upcoming Kansas City concert. Local health officials have shown concern over the safety of Saturday’s Arrowhead Stadium performance, which is sold out, in light of rising COVID-19 case numbers not seen since the winter, The Kansas City Star reports. Brooks told fans Monday that no one will cast judgment for mask-wearing at his show. “Wear your mask. Paint a G on it. Do whatever you want to do,” Brooks said in a Facebook live video. “Let’s make it fun.”

Go figure


That’s how many years old Missouri will be as of Tuesday. Missouri became the 24th state to join the union on Aug. 10, 1821, as a slave state under the Missouri Compromise, with Maine joining as a free state. For the first five years of its statehood, Missouri’s capitol was in St. Charles, where visitors can find a great deal of Missouri history, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Celebrations are already getting started across the state, beginning with the Together for ’21 Fest in Columbia, which is running Friday through Sunday. Subsequent events in St. Charles and Jefferson City, along with the state fair in Sedalia, are set to commemorate Missouri’s statehood — though the ongoing pandemic has caused some to question the safety of holding the fair, despite its economic benefits to the state.

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The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry issued a forceful response Thursday after a group of Republican lawmakers sought to block businesses from implementing vaccine mandates for their employees, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The chamber has encouraged vaccination among Missouri’s workforce through its COVID Stops Here program, which celebrates companies with more than 70% of their employees vaccinated. Six Republican senators signed a letter asking Gov. Mike Parson to call a legislative session to put restrictive measures in place against private vaccine mandates.

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This nonprofit is working to teach younger students to code, the Columbia Missourian reports. The Midwest chapter of the organization was founded by two students from Columbia’s Rock Bridge High School, Yogev Angelovici and Zihao Zhou. Last semester, more than 100 students enrolled in courses, which are aimed at younger grade school students but are open to older students as well. Codivate has 11 chapters in total and more than 450 students nationally. “The younger you are when you start messing with it, the easier it is to start understanding the concepts,” Angelovici said.

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


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