Missouri Minute: Kansas City Southern plans to accept Canadian Pacific bid; travel sector feels effects of delta variant

Hello, MBA readers,

Missouri Republican leaders are not happy about President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate, which would make any business with more than 100 employees require workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or face regular testing. Gov. Mike Parson announced Friday that he is working with Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office to gather resources to challenge the rule in the courts. It’s a fight some experts don’t think opponents of the mandate are likely to win, though, as the coronavirus continues to pose a serious threat to unvaccinated people. In a different sort of fight, Canadian Pacific Railway is suddenly poised to win a bidding war for Kansas City Southern, beating out rival Canadian National Railway. The Kansas City-based railroad company has deemed Canadian Pacific’s latest offer superior to a richer bid from Canadian National that has encountered regulatory pushback. Both would-be buyers want a rail network linking Canada to the U.S. and Mexico. And, in the service sector, trouble hiring workers persists. That’s particularly true in Columbia, where long-term labor trends have been exacerbated by the pandemic, leaving some employers struggling to fill a glut of open positions.

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Travel industry feeling effects of delta variant
Airline traffic in the first half of this year has been just over half of pre-pandemic levels in both St. Louis and Kansas City. Hotels in both metros have not fared much better. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Burrell to raise minimum wage by 30%
The Springfield-based behavioral and mental health care provider is increasing its minimum wage to $15 from $11.50, representing a $3.4 million investment in its staff. (Springfield Business Journal)

UMKC study finds pandemic behavior largely affected by household size
Researchers found that people living in more crowded households were more concerned with health risks, but were also more likely to disagree with or violate social distancing rules. (KCUR)

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Columbia had an unemployment rate of 2.5% in July, tied for the lowest of any metro area in Missouri and well below the state and national rates. Nationally, job openings hit an all-time high at the end of July. In Columbia, service-sector businesses are grappling with the lack of available workers, leading to a glut of openings in low-paying, part-time roles often staffed by college students. While fewer students have been working in recent decades, the pandemic has exacerbated existing shortages, causing many establishments to reduce hours and limit offerings.

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“There’s really no doubt that people are in grave danger as a result of this pandemic, and in particular the delta variant. But one question will be, ‘Are all employees equally in danger?'”

That’s Rob Gatter, a professor at St. Louis University Law School’s Center for Health Law Studies. President Joe Biden’s announcement that he wants to create an emergency rule requiring businesses with more than 100 people to mandate vaccines or regular COVID-19 tests has drawn the ire of Republicans nationwide, causing questions about the legality of such a regulation. According to Gatter, it would likely hold up in court so long as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration can prove the virus poses a grave danger to employees, St. Louis Public Radio reports.

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In the Eighth Federal Reserve District, which includes eastern and central Missouri and all or parts of six neighboring states, 29.3% of people had difficulty with expenses between June 23 and July 5, according to a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Nationwide, that number was 27.1%. The Eighth District also reported higher levels of food insecurity than the country as a whole — 10.8% regionally, compared to 9.7% nationally — though the region had a lower rate than the rest of the country for income loss during that span. The report said the Eighth District states are vulnerable to the delta variant of the coronavirus and unlikely to see a full economic recovery until the public health situation is improved.

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The Kansas City Southern railroad company announced Sunday that a $31 billion takeover bid from Canadian Pacific Railway would beat out a $33.6 billion bid from rival Canadian National Railway, the Associated Press reports. The Kansas City-based railroad operator said it intends to terminate the Canadian National merger agreement, which encountered issues when regulators denied the company’s use of voting trusts. Canadian National has five days to revamp its bid, though it remains unclear whether the company will return with another offer. Either deal would create a rail network linking Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, taking advantage of new trade opportunities under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Hello, my name is


That’s the name of a new Missouri-centric booking platform that its creator, Parker Tergin, described as “Airbnb for private ponds and lakes,” Startland News reports. It was launched in July and currently offers listings that people can book to explore Missouri’s outdoors through experiences including camping, kayaking and fishing.

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