Missouri Minute: Bill would let college athletes be paid; KC advances Waddell & Reed incentives

Good morning, MBA readers,

The effort to privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport has been met by plenty of vocal skepticism, but on Wednesday another prominent voice hit the airwaves discussing the potential merits of privatization. Adolphus Pruitt, president of the St. Louis chapter of the NAACP, spoke in favor of leasing the airport, explaining it could serve as a new source of funding to address the issue of blight in north St. Louis. Speaking of newfound funds, a Missouri lawmaker has proposed legislation that would allow college athletes to make money, adding Missouri to a growing number of states considering such plans. Read on for those stories and the day’s other top business news.

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KC advances $44 million in incentives for Waddell & Reed move
A Kansas City Council committee has advanced $44 million in local incentives for the Overland Park, Kansas-based company to relocate across the state line to Missouri. The deal awaits approval from the full council. The potential city tax abatement is in addition to $62 million in incentives from the state. (Kansas City Business Journal)

New Missouri bill would allow college athletes to make money
A bill filed Tuesday by Rep. Nick Shroer, R-O’Fallon, would allow college athletes to profit from their name and image. If approved, it would take effect in 2023. The bill follows passage of a similar law by California in September. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Sprint credit card provider to lay off 99
Home Credit US, which services Sprint credit cards, expects to begin laying off 99 workers on Jan. 31. The company launched in 2015 as part of a joint venture with Sprint. The wireless carrier said the layoffs will not affect existing Sprint credit card customers. (KCUR)

AMC Entertainment names new chairman, CFO
The Leawood, Kansas-based theater operator has appointed Lin “Lincoln” Zhang as director and non-executive chairman. Zhang, who succeeds board chairman Zeng Maojun, previously served on the board from 2012 to 2018. Sean Goodman will become the company’s new CFO, replacing the retiring Craig Ramsey. (Kansas City Business Journal)

With new president and HQ, Pulse Design Group preps for future growth
The Lenexa, Kansas-based health care architecture firm has hired Dennis Burns as its first president ahead of a move to Kansas City, Missouri. Pulse currently has a headcount of 33 but anticipates growing to 50 or more employees in the coming years. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Senior health care provider expands to St. Louis
Miami-based ChenMed announced this week it will expand to St. Louis and four other cities in 2020, upping its total number of markets to 19. The company will build 20 new medical practices in those markets, though it is unclear how many will be in St. Louis. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Tech CEO who won county contract says she gave to Stenger to help merger effort
Lisa Nichols, CEO of Chesterfield-based Technology Partners, told the St. Louis County Council that she donated $10,000 to ex-County Executive Steve Stenger’s campaign at the request of business leaders who backed the county-city merger effort. Nichols said the donations were not in exchange for a no-bid contract her firm won under Stenger’s administration in 2017. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Moody’s upgrades UM System’s credit outlook
Moody’s Investors Service has revised the University of Missouri System’s credit outlook to “stable.” The revision cited UM’s “improved leadership continuity” and its ability to deal with declines in both state funding and enrollment. (Columbia Missourian)

Union workers OK new Dierbergs contract
Dierbergs employees approved a new three-year contract Tuesday night that covers 2,400 workers. The contract is similar to an agreement union workers struck with Schnuck Markets. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Benson Hill launches new seed business
The St. Louis agriculture startup announced Wednesday that it is launching Benson Hill Seeds, a new business focused on providing soybean varieties for human and animal feed markets. The new business currently has 20 employees, and the company plans to hire more (St. Louis Business Journal)

St. Louis startup secures $6.6 million in funding to improve brain scans
Nous Imaging, which uses software to address the problem of patients who move during brain scans, has raised $1 million from a California-based angel investor and received a $5.6 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Patent startup plans expansion after $2.4 million funding
St. Louis-based Juristat, which provides statistical analysis for patent applications, has raised $2.4 million in a new funding round led by Arsenal Capital Management in St. Louis. Juristat plans to use the funds to bolster its workflow automation division, which launched in January. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Say that again

“If somebody is willing to come in and invest money into the airport and pay the city significant dollars upfront that it can use to address some of those ill wills, we should be receptive to hearing that offer.”

That’s Adolphus Pruitt, president of the NAACP’s St. Louis chapter, speaking in favor of privatizing St. Louis Lambert International Airport, St. Louis Public Radio reports. Pruitt said the controversial airport lease could be exactly what the city needs to address problems such as blight in north St. Louis. He believes the remedy to the city’s blight problem will come not from general revenue or a big government grant, but from a high-grossing project like the airport lease.

Go figure

$650 million

That’s how much revenue Russell Cellular, a Verizon Wireless partner based in the Springfield area, expects to make this year, the Springfield Business Journal reports. Last year’s sales were around $424 million, and the $650 million estimate exceeds early company projections for this year by around $10 million. With that revenue growth, the company has also grown its physical space; Russell was scheduled to cut the ribbon on a $6 million new headquarters this week.

Send tweet

— Ben Jackson (@bjmag1c) December 4, 2019
That’s Ben Jackson, who was recognized by Forbes on the magazine’s annual “30 under 30” list for consumer technology. Jackson, 27, is a co-founder of Bungii, a Kansas City startup that facilitates on-demand truck rentals. Bungii has raised $10 million in venture funding and has over 5,000 active drivers in over 100 cities, according to the list.

Hello, my name is


Are you concerned about your dog’s ability to meet other canine companions at the dog park? Or maybe your own ability to meet other dog lovers at the dog park? PawConX, an app conceptualized by Kwinton Scarbrough, wants to remedy to your dog-related social anxiety. It provides a type of connection service that aids humans in forming “less invasive canine-to-canine and person-to-person relationships at the dog park,” Startland News reports. The app is scheduled to launch later this month.

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


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