April 19, 2015

Governor Nixon releases $43-million in Missouri’s FY 15 budget

Governor Jay Nixon has released another 43-million of the dollars he’s been withholding in the state’s budget.

Nixon said it’s possible because state revenue has improved.

“I’m pleased to report that as Missouri’s economy continues to pick up steam, state revenues are reflecting this positive trend,” said Nixon.

Nixon’s budget director Linda Luebbering announced on Thursday fiscal year-to-date net general revenue collections increased 6.8 percent compared to 2014, from $5.57 billion last year to $5.95 this year.

“We got to work immediately,” said Nixon of his staff’s reaction to the positive figures. “Today I’m pleased to announce that we’re able to provide $43-million in funding now for education, workforce training, and other key strategic investments.”

Nixon released money for capital improvements and repairs at state facilities and colleges, improvements to ports on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, more than $5.8-million for local libraries, and other programs.

The governor is still withholding more than $408-million from the current fiscal year’s budget. Most of that is tied to capital improvement projects, some of which could eventually be funded by bonding proposals. $149-million of those dollars are in the operating budget.

Bacon business expands operations to build new plant in Missouri

A new meat processing plant has made plans to set up shop in northwest Missouri.

Daily’s Premium Meats is expanding its operations to build a new plant that will be processing bacon in St. Joseph.  Daily’s Premium Meats is part of an integrated system owned jointly by Triumph Foods and Seaboard Foods.

Missouri Agriculture Director Richard Fordyce said the plant will further process pork coming from the Triumph Foods plant in St. Joseph.

Daily's Premium Honey Cured Bacon

Daily’s Premium Honey Cured Bacon

“They will literally take product out of the Triumph plant, literally take it across the street, and add further value and produce bacon,” said Fordyce.

Director of Communications David Eaheart said the plant will be built from the ground up and it will be across the street from the Triumph Foods pork processing plant.  Eaheart said the company chose St. Joseph for a couple of reasons.

“Triumph Foods is part of our food system and will be supplying pork bellies to it, so logistically it made sense,” said Eaheart.  “The city of St. Joseph offered incentives and a package that was very attractive to Daily’s.”

The Missouri Department of Economic Development claims it has offered a strict incentive package that the company can receive if it meets strict job creation and investment criteria.  The company’s expansion project includes an initial capital investment of $41.5 million.

Eaheart said the expansion project will create jobs.

“The plant will employ a little over 200 people and a lot of those will be working on the productions lines where they’ll actually be smoking, curing, slicing bellies, primarily for the food service market, which Daily’s specializes in,” said Eaheart.

Daily's Cherry Apple Wood Smoked Bacon

Daily’s Cherry Apple Wood Smoked Bacon

Construction of the 100,000 square-foot plant is scheduled to begin this summer and the company expects to be fully operational by May 2016.

“If all goes as planned with the construction of the plant, it should start operations in May, so it will sometime next spring or late winter when we’ll start looking to fill positions,” said Eaheart.

Daily’s Premium Meats was founded in 1893 in Missoula, Montana.  It’s sliced-to-order bacon is sold to national restaurant chains, local restaurants, and food service distributors.  The company is also trying to build its retail customer base.

Nixon-led Missouri trade mission to Europe enters last leg

A Missouri trade mission led by Governor Jay Nixon has gone from Germany to Spain.

Governor Jay Nixon and other Missouri trade delegation members meet with BMW executives in Munich, Germany.  (courtesy; Governor Nixon's Twitter account, @GovJayNixon)

Governor Jay Nixon and other Missouri trade delegation members meet with BMW executives in Munich, Germany. (courtesy; Governor Nixon’s Twitter account, @GovJayNixon)

The Governor says he wants to do three things with this trade trip: thank those companies that already trade with Missouri, let Missouri business leaders meet with their customers, and to look for ways to expand the already strong trade market Missouri has in Europe.

“I think we’re in a growth zone here. I mean, you’re seeing the economy of our state pick up and I think the fact that we are a great place to do business, I think we’re going to continue to see growth in this export sector to Europe,” Nixon told reporters on a conference call from Munich.

The trip has also visited Italy. Between the three countries it has stopped in, Missouri exports exceeded $577-million in 2014. Nixon hopes to increase Missouri exports, which he said reached $14.1-billion last year, the second highest year on record.

“2012 and 2014 were the two best years on record for export of Missouri goods, and these companies with us and a myriad of others will help us in continuing to create more jobs and make more exports,” said Nixon.

Nixon did not say that any new deals have been sealed during this trip.

Missouri has received international attention since August, when 18-year-old Michael Brown, Junior, was fatally shot by a Ferguson Police officer. Nixon says, though, that incident and the unrest that followed have not been major topics of discussion in his meetings with foreign officials.

“Just the fact that folks were aware of it because of the significant attention that it got, and that we appear to be trying to do some things concretely over the long run that are going to make a difference,” said Nixon.

The trip ends Saturday. It is being paid for by a nonprofit economic development group.

European auto parts supplier to open distribution center in Missouri

A European auto parts supplier will place its first North American location in Missouri.

Universal Components Group (UCG) is a United Kingdom based company that plans to expand its operations by opening up a distribution center in O’Fallon.  According to the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED), the expansion project is expected to create 31 new jobs and a capital investment of $765,000.

UCG is a wholesale distribution business for commercial vehicle, truck, and semi-trailer components.  The company is the largest independent distributor of aftermarket parts in the UK and supplies more than 1,000 distribution outlets worldwide.  UCG works closely with Wainwright Industries in Wentzville, which led to its decision to expand to an approximately 10,000 square-foot warehouse in St. Charles County.

“Universal Components Group is very excited about the new location in O’Fallon.  The U.S market is a great opportunity for us,” said David Kernahan, CEO of UCG.  “The support we have received from the Missouri DED and our Sister company Wainwright Industries has allowed us to get our distribution footprint in place very quickly.”

The DED has offered a strategic economic incentive package to UCG if the company proves to meet strict job creation and investment criteria.

House adopts $26.1-billion budget, sans Medicaid expansion

The state House has adopted a 26.1-billion dollar state spending plan for the year that begins July 1. Majority Republicans have for the third straight year turned away an effort to accept expansion of Medicaid in the budget.

A stack of state budget bills (file photo).

A stack of state budget bills (file photo).

House Democrats like Kip Kendrick (Columbia) say that means leaving billions of federal dollars on the table and not extending coverage to those living at 138-percent of the federal poverty level.

“We are literally spending money to keep 250,000 Missourians from the healthcare that they deserve,” said Kendrick during debate on Tuesday.

Republican Caleb Rowden (Columbia) says Missouri can’t afford to expand the current Medicaid system, which he calls, “broken.”

“We are spending tens and hundreds of millions of dollars to maintain our current system at the detriment of K-12 education and at the detriment of higher education,” argued Rowden.

The House budget proposes a $74-million increase for K-12 education; $24-million more than Governor Jay Nixon’s (D) proposal but that would still leave the state about $408-million short of fully backing the K-12 funding formula.

The 13 budget bills need another favorable vote to reach the Senate.