In the News: Nov 2014

Tidbits of Business News from Around the Region

Buchanan County

Jobless Rate Now Under 5
St. Joseph continues to be one of Missouri’s shining examples on the employment front, with a September jobless rate of 4.9 for the month, figures from the Missouri Department of Economic Development show. That rate applied to a four-county metro area, including Andrew, Buchanan and DeKalb on the Missouri side, and Doniphan County, on the Kansas side of the Missouri River. The decline puts St. Joseph a full point below the national average of 5.9 percent, and well below the 7.0 percent in the neighboring area.

Clay County

NKC Hospital Expanding
Its $18 million expansion is completed for one of the area’s busiest emergency rooms, but North Kansas City Hospital isn’t done; it’s turning its expansion plans to acute rehabilitation, where it will add 18 beds to the current 30-bed unit. The hospital, one of the region’s busiest in terms of admissions, is also adding medical staff at the 451-bed acute-care hospital.

Theater Chain Acquisition
Dickinson Theaters, a long-time operate of theaters in the region, has been acquired by B&B Theatres of Liberty. No terms were disclosed on the deal, which bolstered B&B’s assets with 169 screens at 15 locations in seven states. The 90-year-old B&B jumps into the nation’s list of Top 10 theater chains with the deal, and now has 50 locations in eight states, boasting 408 screens, and will add a new complex that will be built near Liberty High School.

Jackson County

Commuter Rail Grant
Talk of a commuter rail line in Jackson County is on again, thanks to a $10 million federal grant that could help the county secure nearly 25 miles of rail right-of-way along Union Pacific tracks. County Executive Mike Sanders said the money would be applied to the purchase along tracks from the intersection of Interstates 70 and 435 in Kansas City into Raytown and Lee’s Summit, plus two rail spurs in Independence—enough of a framework for a county-wide system. The grant only covers a fraction of the $59 mil. selling price.

Truman Complex Refinanced
Jackson County will save about $32 million in interest with the sale of roughly $340 million in bonds issued to upgrade the Truman Sports Complex, officials say. The savings will be applied to the county’s share of a facilities-maintenance fund it shares with the state and Kansas City, MO. The Royals and Chiefs lease Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums, which are owned by the county and operated by the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority.

Logistics Addition
A Connecticut-based transportation logistics firm will bring 125 jobs to that growing Kansas City business sector. XPO Logistics will make a $1.2 million capital investment to open its first freight brokerage in Missouri. XPO—which already has more than 200 locations in the U.S. and Canada—offers truckload and less-than-truck-load brokerage, last-mile logistics, intermodal services, ground/air expedited transportation, tech-enabled contract logistics, freight forwarding and managed transportation to more than 14,000 customers in the manufacturing, industrial, retail, commercial, life sciences and government sectors.

Children’s Mercy Transplant OK
Children’s Mercy Hospital’s Ward Family Heart Center had been approved to begin pediatric heart transplants. It’s the first hospital in the region to offer that treatment for children. The United Network for Organ Sharing, a nonprofit contractor to the federal government, approved the program startup. The network oversees organ allocation and transplant programs nationwide. The hospital said two physicians, thoracic surgeon James St. Louis, and cardiologist Aleissa Barnes, would lead the new program.


Douglas County

Medical Access Reductions
A new study from researchers at the University of Kansas shows that nearly half of the disabled patients previously covered under Medicaid had a harder time accessing health services following the state’s switch to a managed-care model.

Johnson County

Elecsys Corp. Sold
Elecsys Corp., a machining manufacturer that has made routine appearances on Ingram’s Corporate Report 100 list of fastest-growing local companies, has been sold to Lindsay Corp., a public company based in Omaha, for $70.5 million. CEO Karl Gemperli said the acquisition would allow Elecsys, as a wholly owned subsidiary, access to a global customer base. Gemperli will remain with the company after the sale.

FishNet Merger
FishNet Security, which grew to more than $500 million in annual revenues since it was founded in Kansas City, is merging with Accuvant Inc., a Denver IT security firm to form an as-yet unnamed company with 1,400 employees in 50 offices across the nation. Accuvant’s CEO, Dan Burns, will lead the new company, suggesting that a headquarters relocation was coming for FishNet. Terms not announced.

Logistics Park Additions
NorthPoint Development has started work on a pair of Class A buildings at the Kansas City logistics facility in southwest Johnson County. A tenant has already been signed for the larger of the two structures, a 760,000-square-foot warehouse at 191st Street and Waverly Road. The companion building, covering 650,000 square feet, is going up on a spec basis next to it.

Shawnee County
Washburn Institute of Technology is rolling out a new program, in partnership with BNSF, in locomotive maintenance. The first classes will begin in the spring, officials said. The course will debut with 16
students who will work on the 32-foot locomotives on the institute’s campus. The Kansas Department of Commerce and the Kansas Board of Regents combined to offer $225,000 to fund the program start-up.

News Updates from the Capital cities

Washington | Hiring Ticks Up; Jobless Rate Down
October hiring by U.S. companies reached the fastest clip in four months, with 214,000 jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the Commerce Department reported that the nation’s unemployment rate had fallen to 5.8 percent. Work-force professionals say at least 200,000 jobs a month are needed to make further reductions in the unemployment rate. The reported unemployment rate of 5.8 percent was the lowest since 2008, but a broader index of work-force status, which includes people who want to work full-time but are limited to part-time work, stood at 11.5 percent in October. That, analysts say, is a prominent factor driving public perception that the economy is making no significant improvement.

Jefferson City | Nixon Throws Block for Rams
With just 2 percent of the nation’s population, Missouri stands out for having two Federal Reserve district banks, two pro baseball teams, and two NFL franchises. Gov. Jay Nixon is trying to keep that claim to sports fame intact, appointing a pair of prominent civic leaders in St. Louis to conduct an 60-day analysis that could help ensure that the St. Louis Rams don’t jump to another city. David Peacock, former president of Anheuser-Busch, and attorney Robert Blitz will lead that effort. “Being an NFL city is a matter of civic and state pride, and make no mistake about it—St. Louis is an NFL city,” Nixon said. “The economic impact of having an NFL team in St. Louis extends long beyond Sunday afternoon, and sends a clear signal that this city is a worldwide player.” The Rams have set a Jan. 28 deadline to provide notice of their intent to convert their current lease of the Edward Jones to a year-to-year lease, increasing the likelihood that the team could shop for home venues in another state.

Topeka | Kansas Falls in Tax Foundation Rankings
Despite its efforts at tax reform, including elimination of income taxes on most small businesses, the Tax Foundation ranks the state three spots lower this year than in 2013. The think tank’s ranks each state by various tax measurements each year, such as reduction or elimination of taxes, embrace of a flattened tax structure, and sales and business tax rates. Changes in other states’ tax policies likely accounted for the slight decline in the way Kansas fared this year, falling to 22nd from its No. 19 slot a year ago. Another factor, said the foundation, was that recent income-tax cuts from Topeka failed to include offsetting reductions in spending.