Missouri Minute: US unemployment claims hit 52-year low; Walgreens plans Liberty facility

Hello, MBA readers,

In the latest legal development concerning pandemic health orders, a judge has ruled many local mandates in the state violate the Missouri Constitution. Cole County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Green said that individual local health officials have exceeded their authority in imposing COVID-19 orders, which he ruled should be determined by local commissions and councils. In labor news, U.S. weekly unemployment filings dropped to a level not seen in more than five decades. Seasonally adjusted first-time claims last week totaled 199,000, their lowest mark since 1969. The four-week average dipped to 252,000, its lowest level since March 2020. Plus, with the traditional start of the holiday shopping season almost here, many small businesses are cautiously optimistic about the return of in-store shoppers for the holiday rush. Small Business Saturday, which encourages shoppers to buy from local retailers, was largely conducted online last year. But small shops across Missouri are hoping that more people return to shopping in stores, and a National Federation of Independent Business official said there’s “guarded optimism” for “a really good holiday cycle.”

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US weekly unemployment claims hit 52-year lowThe number of Americans filing for unemployment dropped to 199,000 last week, the lowest level since 1969. The four-week average fell to about 252,000, the lowest mark since mid-March 2020. (Associated Press) Judge rules county health orders violate Missouri ConstitutionJudge Daniel Green said the Department of Health and Senior Services granted too much power to individual local health officials and declared existing orders — including business closures — “null and void.” (Missouri Independent)Walgreens to build $30 million micro-fulfillment center in Liberty The facility, set to debut in 2022, is expected to create 200 jobs. The pharmacy operator is opening nine of the centers nationally to expedite home delivery and store restocking. (WDAF)Federal jury awards St. Louis distributor $11.75 million in Jägermeister trialThe distributor, Major Brands, claimed the liqueur producer violated state franchise law by ending a 40-year relationship. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)New Target seen as potential catalyst for retail in Midtown St. LouisThe 70,000-square-foot store is part of a $60 million apartment and retail project near St. Louis University. Officials hope the proximity to SLU will help fuel the area’s economic momentum. (St. Louis Business Journal)Lobbyist-linked PACs raise concernsCampaign finance watchdogs worry veteran statehouse lobbyist Steve Tilley, through the use of several political action committees, is exploiting legal loopholes to help clients bypass corporate contribution caps. Tilley has previously drawn scrutiny from the FBI. (Missouri Independent)Springfield workers picket Burger King The employees walked off the job because of black mold and overflowing sewage, they said. A recent inspection noted uncleanliness in the kitchen. (Springfield News-Leader)Potential changes in federal waterways definition could cause contentionThe Obama and Trump administrations introduced competing definitions that irked farmers and environmentalists, respectively. Both groups are waiting to see how President Joe Biden’s say will change the game. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Say that again

“When you hire someone, you’re offering a package of goods. There’s wages, but, of course, there are things about what the job is like, how hard you work people, flexibility on the job.”

That’s Peter Mueser, an economics professor at the University of Missouri, speaking about a challenge many businesses faced as they attempted to staff up ahead of the holiday season. In a labor market that has set records in recent months for both job openings and workers quitting their jobs, employers looking to hire seasonal help for the holiday rush have found themselves in an unusual position. Mueser said that employers might look at what they are offering prospective hires as a holistic deal, rather than just a wage. With many businesses earning a large share of their yearly revenue during this season, attracting and retaining employees is vital.

Go figure


E-commerce sales in the U.S. grew by 32.4% last year, an increase of about $792 billion, with online sales playing a large role in the survival of many small businesses during the pandemic. However, with the traditional start of the holiday shopping season approaching — including Small Business Saturday — many small retailers are optimistic about brisk in-store sales. For some businesses that were closed for an extended period during the pandemic, there are hopes that robust online sales will continue as shoppers also return to in-person purchasing. “This year, I think there’s a real buzz about getting out and supporting in person as much as you can, obviously still safely,” said Nickie Davis, executive director of The District, Columbia’s downtown community improvement district.

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The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce named John Sherman, chairman and CEO of the Kansas City Royals, as its Kansas Citian of the Year. Sherman accepted the chamber’s highest honor Tuesday night at the organization’s 134th annual dinner. Before leading a group that bought the Royals in 2019, Sherman made his name as an energy entrepreneur and philanthropist in Kansas City.

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Geospatial World

This Indian geospatial media and consulting firm has chosen St. Louis to be the location for its North American headquarters, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The move adds to a growing cluster of geospatial firms in St. Louis, where officials have focused on boosting the sector in conjunction with the opening of the new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s western headquarters in north St. Louis. Geospatial World will be located in the Globe building downtown. This branch will be run by Aaron Addison, executive director of the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, and employ between five and 10 people in its first year.

It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning. The Morning Minutes are off for the holiday, but they will be back Monday. Have a happy Thanksgiving.


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