Missouri Minute: Gyms fear membership dip amid COVID spread; Centene settles another state suit

Hello, MBA readers,

Turning the calendar to a new year typically means gyms can expect to see an uptick in membership. The emergence of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, though, has significantly impacted gyms, with some struggling to maintain membership even during what is usually their busiest time of the year. Elsewhere, some state lawmakers are looking to expand on a law passed last year that created a tax credit program for private school scholarships. As the new legislative session kicks into gear in Jefferson City, some legislators are trying to knock down restrictions that were part of the bill passed last session. Lastly, the U.S. Chess Federation is looking to continue to grow by moving its headquarters to St. Louis. Chess enthusiasts in St. Louis have worked to make the city a global center for the game, and the federation says the move comes after it outgrew its old home in Tennessee.

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Lawmakers aim to expand private school tax credit programState legislators last year created tax credits for contributions to organizations providing scholarships to eligible students for expenses including private school tuition. Now, lawmakers are looking to remove the program’s funding cap and regional restrictions. (Missouri Independent)Parson targets changes to Sunshine LawThe governor’s office is pushing legislation that would increase the cost of obtaining public records and limit which documents can be made available. (Missouri Independent)Centene reaches $21 million settlement with New HampshireThe Clayton-based managed care provider has agreed to pay the state over claims that it misreported pharmacy benefit costs. It’s Centene’s sixth such settlement with a state. (St. Louis Business Journal)Downtown St. Louis property owners want taxing district refundIn an escalation of a dispute between property owners and the special taxing district, a lawsuit seeks the return of $5 million primarily used for beautification and security downtown. (St. Louis Business Journal)KC architecture firm designs Ozarks arenaClockwork Architecture + Design is designing the multisport arena and hotel being planned for waterfront property at the Lake of the Ozarks. (Kansas City Business JournalKC developer sells Florida industrial buildingVanTrust Real Estate has sold a Jacksonville, Florida, building that houses an Amazon distribution center for $100 million. (Kansas City Business Journal)Missouri Valley Conference welcomes new memberThe St. Louis-based college sports conference is adding Murray State University as a member school, and the league has signaled it may seek more additions. (St. Louis Business Journal)Parkville wetland restoration stalledA dispute over project funding has led to a standstill in the development of 140 acres along the Missouri River aiming to repair past damage to the land by the Army Corps of Engineers. (Kansas City Beacon)

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“The trends are people wanting faster service and less in-person interaction. Everybody’s on their phones more and using more and more apps to order food and drinks.”

Ian Davis is the owner of Blip Roasters, a Kansas City coffee shop that just launched a digital ordering app. The Kansas City Business Journal reports the innovation is part of a growing trend among Kansas City restaurants aiming to adapt to consumer demands. According to a survey from consultancy Deloitte, customers are increasingly looking for experiences that minimize human contact and increase efficiency. The result is greater emphasis on digitizing experiences and offering dining alternatives like “ghost kitchens,” which make food solely for takeout and delivery.

Go figure


Despite its business picking up from 2020 to 2021, L.A.B. Gym in St. Louis still reported revenue last year that was 30% lower than pre-pandemic levels. L.A.B. is not alone in struggling to maintain membership during COVID-19, St. Louis Public Radio reports. January typically brings a boost in memberships for gyms as people vow to focus on fitness in the new year, but gym owners say the omicron variant of the coronavirus is affecting that dynamic. Some gyms have pivoted to offer virtual training memberships in an effort to retain some members and offset financial losses.

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The U.S. Chess Federation announced that it will move its headquarters to St. Louis. The federation said it has outgrown its headquarters in Crossville, Tennessee, according to St. Louis Public Radio. The organization cited a strong chess community in St. Louis as part of its reasoning for selecting the city. St. Louis is home to the World Chess Hall of Fame, which was brought to town with the help of Rex Sinquefield, the wealthy investor, political donor and supporter of chess in the St. Louis area.

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Missouri Thunder

Springfield-based outdoor sports retailer Bass Pro Shops and its founder Johnny Morris are investing in this new bull-riding team. The Springfield Business Journal reports the team will be based out of Ridgedale and will compete in the Professional Bull Riders association PBR Team Series starting in June. There are seven other teams in the competition, including one in Kansas City.

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