Missouri Minute: Inflation matches 13-year high; White House aims to ease supply-chain issues

Hello, MBA readers,

With a 5.4% bump in consumer prices since last year, inflation in September matched its highest level in 13 years. Combined with a splintered supply chain and a historically tight labor market, the increase puts added pressure on the Federal Reserve and the Biden administration. In response to rising prices, the president announced plans to keep the country’s busiest port open 24/7 in an effort to keep supply up and prices down as the holiday season approaches. Other major players in the shipping and logistics sector, including FedEx, UPS and Walmart, will expand operating hours in tandem with the Biden administration’s strategy. But that could prove difficult in light of employee scarcity, a trend Missouri businesses have wrestled with for months.

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Inflation matches 13-year high
The Labor Department reported September prices were up 5.4% from last year, matching inflation levels also recorded in June and July as the steepest since 2008. (Associated Press)

White House announces plan to ease supply-chain issues
The Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest container port, will expand to 24/7 operations in an effort to alleviate a cargo backlog. Major retailers and logistics companies, including FedEx, UPS, Walmart and Home Depot, will increase operations during off-peak hours. (CNBC)

Boeing mandates COVID-19 vaccine
The aviation and defense company, one of the St. Louis area’s biggest employers, will require vaccination by Dec. 8. (Reuters)

Saint Luke’s Health System raises minimum wage
This is the Kansas City health system’s second increase of its wage floor in less than a year, bringing the minimum wage to $17.50 per hour. (KCUR)

Lawmakers hope for reform under new DSS leadership
Robert Knodell, the governor’s deputy chief of staff, will replace Jennifer Tidball as head of the Missouri Department of Social Services, stoking optimism among some lawmakers after the agency has faced complaints about its handling of Medicaid expansion and child abuse cases. (Missouri Independent)

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Missouri has more than 2,600 electric vehicle charging stations, but the majority of them — about 2,300 — are in Kansas City, St. Louis or Springfield. That concentration of EV chargers in urban areas can leave rural Missourians discouraged from purchasing electric vehicles, hurting the state’s efforts to go green. Transportation emissions are the leading contributor of greenhouse gases in the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Say that again

“It’s not comparing apples to oranges. It’s comparing apples to roosters.”

That’s Patrick Rishe, director of the sports business program at Washington University in St. Louis, describing comparisons of two professional football leagues — the NFL and the XFL. Despite a short-lived successful run for an XFL franchise in St. Louis last year, the prospect of the NFL returning to St. Louis after the Rams left town in 2016 is a Hail Mary, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. Among other issues, there are substantial political barriers to an NFL comeback in St. Louis — namely, disagreement on funding either the construction of a new stadium or repairs to the dilapidated Dome at America’s Center.

Go figure

1 in 5

That’s about how many job opportunities presented to Kansas City refugee resettlement agencies are located along a bus line, according to the Beacon. That can make employment a real challenge for newly arriving refugees who rely on public transportation to get around their new home. Refugees tend to be excellent employees, according to Jenni Kornfeld, employment services manager at Catholic Charities, but without reliable public transit, options are severely limited. “They have a hunger to work and to serve their community and give back,” Kornfeld said. “They are appreciative of Americans giving them this opportunity to start over.”

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First Lady Jill Biden visited the offices of El Centro in Kansas City, Kansas, on Monday with Isabella Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration. There, she discussed the educational, social and economic barriers facing members of Latino communities. According to the Missouri Independent, Biden heard from entrepreneurs, a university student and a poet, and emphasized the Biden administration’s efforts to help their communities.

Hello, my name is

National Security Innovation Network

This federal program aims to connect startups and the private sector to the Department of Defense. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cortex Innovation Community in St. Louis reached an agreement with the department to create a “technology pipeline for national security.” Other entities in the region already engaged in the program include St. Louis University, Washington University, the University of Missouri, T-REX and Capital Innovators.

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