Hello, MBA readers,
Within days of Missouri lawmakers approving an increase to the state’s fuel tax, an anti-tax group has initiated the process of putting that hike to a public vote. Americans for Prosperity has filed paperwork to add the tax increase to a statewide ballot. The petition would require additional steps, including the collection of signatures, before being put to voters. While the fuel tax issue fumes, a judge has ordered Gov. Mike Parson and his administration to resume talks with three labor unions that represent more than 13,000 state workers, including some of the lowest-paid government workers in the country. The judge ruled that a 2018 law changing the state’s merit system was unconstitutional and did not restrict collective bargaining. The judge also asked the Parson administration to process the grievances that workers have filed in the last three years. And state employees are not the only ones having their concerns heard. After facing a shortage of raw materials, hundreds of small metal manufacturing firms, including more than a dozen from the St. Louis area, have signed a letter to President Joe Biden seeking to end Trump-era tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.
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Judge orders Parson to negotiate three state union contracts
A judge has ruled that a 2018 law making it easier to hire, fire and reward workers was unconstitutional. Gov. Mike Parson’s administration is now required to resume contract talks with three labor groups representing more than 13,000 state employees. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Conservative advocacy group seeks vote on gas tax hike
Americans for Prosperity-Missouri filed a petition to put what is expected to be the state’s first gas tax increase in years to a public vote. Millions of voter signatures would be needed to put the tax, which is awaiting the governor’s approval, on the ballot in 2022. (Associated Press)
Manufacturers call on Biden to end Trump metal tariffs
Metal manufacturers have struggled to obtain raw materials because of the pandemic and the 2018 tariffs former President Donald Trump imposed on imported steel and aluminum. About 300 small manufacturers, including 15 from St. Louis, signed a letter asking President Joe Biden to end the tariffs. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Aegion goes private as acquisition closes
The Chesterfield-based pipeline repair company, which became the target of a bidding war earlier this year, completed its sale to New York investment firm New Mountain Capital. Officials say there is no expectation of moving the company’s headquarters from the St. Louis area. (St. Louis Business Journal)
MSU proposes highest pay raise in at least 10 years
Missouri State University is proposing a 3% pay increase for all employees next school year. The raise is expected to cost $3.9 million. (Springfield News-Leader)
Fast-growing St. Louis developer plans to acquire interior design firm
A division of Green State Real Estate Ventures is nearing a deal to buy O’Toole Design Associates as part of an ongoing strategy for Green Street to enhance in-house services as it expands nationwide. (St. Louis Business Journal)
COVID-19 outbreak at Smithfield plant likely larger than originally thought
Newly obtained documents from federal regulators indicate the number of cases at Smithfield’s northern Missouri meatpacking plant was likely more than double what has been previously reported. (Missouri Independent)
Longtime state economic development official Miserez dies at 66
Robert Miserez, executive director of the Missouri Development Finance Board, died Wednesday following a brief illness. He was 66. He had a hand in hundreds of projects around the state, including Ballpark Village in St. Louis and Union Station in Kansas City. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Salt + Smoke adds new location at Ballpark Village
The St. Louis barbecue chain opened its fifth location Monday. (St. Louis Business Journal)
Branson clinic enters provider agreement with Mercy
Mercy providers will treat patients at Faith Community Health Center, which provides income-based primary care for the underserved in Stone and Taney counties. (Springfield Business Journal)
Say that again
“There is no doubt in my mind about the importance of physically working together. The benefits are clear — in training, collaborating, innovating, networking, and more.”
That’s what Ron Kruszewski, CEO of Stifel Financial, wrote in a letter to shareholders as the company plans to bring more employees back to work at the office. One-third of the company’s 2,000 St. Louis employees are already back in the office, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. With more than one-third of Americans fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and half having received at least one dose of a vaccine, employers are deciding how to revert from remote to in-person work. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson ordered all state workers to return to offices on May 17. Some employers are quickly navigating the move from the bedroom office to the cubicle, while others are taking it slow and being more flexible in their approach by accommodating options to work from home. According to a recent Morning Consult poll, almost 70% of remote workers said they would feel comfortable returning to the office for work beginning next week.
Average monthly income for households that participated in recently completed poverty-reduction project in Springfield increased by $568, according to a report released at the conclusion of the five-year project. The Northwest Project began in April 2016 and was led by the Drew Lewis Foundation, Missouri State University and Drury University, the Springfield News Leader reports. The $1.3 million initiative was backed by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks along with the support of other foundations. The goal of the project was to develop tools to help people overcome challenges created by poverty and to aid families in achieving long-term financial security. Strategies included boosting financial literacy, offering affordable housing and providing reliable transportation, helping the households increase their monthly income. The success of the project has led to the creation of a spin-off initiative called RISE, or Reaching Independence through Stability and Education. It’s a yearlong program designed to help people become economically self-sufficient.
All 3️⃣ @USMNT group stage matches go through Kansas City 🇺🇸
— Sporting Kansas City (@SportingKC) May 13, 2021
Soccer fans in Kansas City have reason to celebrate with the announcement that the U.S. Men’s National Team will play three games of the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup at Children’s Mercy Park, the home stadium of Sporting Kansas City. The matches will take place in July and pit the U.S. against other national teams from North America and Central America, WDAF reports. The news comes as multiple American cities, including Kansas City, vie to host games for the 2026 World Cup.
Hello, my name is
The St. Louis-based technology startup has raised $ 8 million in a Series A round of venture capital funding, VentureBeat reports. The funding round was led by New York-based Tiger Global and included investment from Oceans Ventures and OldSlip Group. Individual investors included Wade Foster, chief executive of Zapier, a Columbia-founded software startup. Adalo, founded in 2019, is a custom app building platform that does not require users to have any coding knowledge. The startup reports around 1,000 paying customers and more than 220,000 users on the platform.