The Missouri Chamber of Commerce seeks fastest growing Missouri companies to honor with its 2015 Fast Track Award

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is calling for nominations for its 2015 Fast Track Awards, a program designed to recognize Missouri’s fastest growing companies. The Missouri Chamber Fast Track Awards are selected based on the company’s revenue growth over the last four years. Past Missouri Chamber Fast Track award winners represent an impressive list of companies from all across the state. Companies that have earned these awards have come from a diverse range of industries, yet all have a common thread – the ability to see market opportunities and inspire their workforce to achieve them. Click here to see a list of past award winners.

Nominations can be submitted online by going to www.mochamber.com and clicking on “Membership” and then clicking on the “Fast Track Award Application.”  The application deadline is Aug. 15, 2015.

Award winners will be recognized at the 2015 Missouri Chamber Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet. Award winners will also be featured in the Missouri Business Magazine. If you have any questions about the awards, you can contact Katie Rose Hargreaves West, Missouri Chamber director of member outreach, at khargreaveswest@mochamber.com, or by phone at 573-634-3511.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the largest business association in Missouri. Together, with the Missouri Chamber Federation, the Missouri Chamber represents more than 40,000 employers.

Tip tax fix — New law stops revenue department overreach

 Should Missouri businesses be held accountable when their employees falsely report their personal income tax? A recent practice by the Missouri Department of Revenue was doing just that—forcing restaurants and other businesses to make up for lost state revenue when their employees didn’t properly report their tipped income.

But a bill signed into law today finally ends this unfair overreach. Earlier this year, it came to light that the revenue department had started reviewing restaurant tip records. The department was calculating the tip percentage on credit card receipts and comparing that to the cash tips employees were reporting as income. When the percentages showed a discrepancy, the department went after restaurants to make up the difference.

Senate Bill 336 clarifies Missouri’s tax statutes on this matter, ensuring that only employees are accountable for their personal income tax liabilities.

“In this instance, the revenue department’s actions were as nonsensical and as hostile to small business as we’ve seen in a long time. Missouri business leaders understand the importance of paying taxes and contributing to state revenue, but it’s way over the line to expect businesses to pay their employees’ personal tax bills,” said Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. “On behalf of the state’s business community, I’d like to thank the General Assembly for making this a priority and for passing this bill with broad bi-partisan support.”

Senate Bill 336 was sponsored by Sen. Will Kraus, a Republican from Lee’s Summit.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry (www.mochamber.com) is the largest business association in Missouri. Together, with the Missouri Chamber Federation, the Missouri Chamber represents more than 40,000 employers.

Bills signed today target important business growth efforts

 Two new bills signed today will help create and retain thousands of jobs in Missouri.

Senate Bill 194 extends a special tax credit intended to attract corporate headquarters to Missouri and help the state’s existing headquarters expand within Missouri. Under the bill, this tax credit will now continue until 2025. All companies that expand their headquarters in Missouri or move operations here will benefit from this bill. One known project that will benefit is Burns & McDonnell’s planned long-term expansion of their Kansas City headquarters, creating as many as 2,100 new jobs in Missouri.

House Bill 514 will help redevelop a former automotive manufacturing plant in the St. Louis region, an important regional economic development effort. The bill also enhances the city’s efforts to keep the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency as the agency considers a possible relocation with thousands of jobs at stake.

“When we look across Missouri, there are certain major job creation opportunities that require a proactive, coordinated approach by local and state officials. These two new laws illustrate that our General Assembly is listening to our local communities and remains ready to help whenever possible,” said Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. “In the coming years, these bills will help attract and retain thousands of jobs in Missouri. This is the kind of progress we need as we work toward the goals outlined in our state’s long-range economic strategy, Missouri 2030: An Agenda to Lead.”

The two bills signed today mark another success for the 2015 General Assembly, which also passed Senate Bill 149 into law, helping entice data center investment to Missouri.

Senate Bill 194 was sponsored by Sen. Ron Richard, a Republican from Joplin. House Bill 514 was sponsored by Rep. Mike Leara, a Republican from St. Louis.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry (www.mochamber.com) is the largest business association in Missouri. Together, with the Missouri Chamber Federation, the Missouri Chamber represents more than 40,000 employers.

Union ambush elections starting to take place in Missouri

On April 14, 2015, the National Labor Relations Board implemented a rule dramatically changing the process for union representation elections by shortening election times and limiting employees’ opportunity to hear from employers before voting to become unionized.

Union elections under the new “ambush election rules,” as they have been called, are starting to take place in Missouri. On May 1, 2015, a petition was filed to unionize a food ingredient manufacturer in Bridgeton. The election was held on May 21, 2015. In this case, the union filed the petition so that the 25th day, the time limit to hold an election now mandated by the rule, would fall on a holiday. Since an employer is not able to speak to employee groups about the election 24 hours before an election, this cut off 3-4 days the employer could have used to help inform employees leading up to the vote. Despite the reduced time, the union vote was defeated.

However, an automobile parts manufacturer, also in the Bridgeton area, held a union vote in May. The employees voted to become unionized.

In addition to the tight turnaround time now mandated by the rules, employers must also turn over employees’ personal information such as email addresses, phone numbers and addresses. Employers also must file a formal Statement of Position within seven days of a petition and give up their rights to pursue any legal issues not included in the statement.

“Our Firm has already assisted employers on five (5) of those Ambush Elections since April 14. It is definitely not fun for employers. It is extremely disruptive and time consuming. The number of NLRB elections are now significantly higher than the same period last year. The median time according to NLRB statistic from Petition to election is being reported as 23 days. Employers need to take steps to ensure that they are able to communicate effectively with employees prior to any Petition being filed.” According to James N. Foster, Jr., Partner at McMahon Berger, P.C.

For more information on this and other labor issues, contact Brian Bunten, general counsel and director of legislative affairs for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He can be reached at bbunten@mochamber.com, or by phone at 573-634-3511.

Right-to-Work states will continue to outpace Missouri

In the May 2015 edition of Site Selection Magazine, an article pointed out the two newest states moving into the “Top 10 Most Competitive States” ranking – Indiana and Michigan. The article points out that both states recently became Right-to-Work and that much of the ranking is based on “states new project performance.”

The article (http://www.siteselection.com/issues/2015/may/top-competitive-states.cfm) underlines what economic development professionals and enterprising states already know: Right-to-Work status means more jobs for the states that have the foresight and courage to enact it,” said Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri Chamber and Industry president and CEO.

Today, Gov. Nixon vetoed legislation that would have made Missouri the nation’s 26th Right-to-Work state. Today’s action means that workers in Missouri will continue to be forced to join labor unions, or pay union dues, to keep a job in a unionized workplace. The governor’s signature also means fewer jobs for Missouri.

“Today, Gov. Nixon chose to use this issue as a political prop to grab media headlines instead of taking advantage of a strong economic development tool that is proven to add good-paying jobs,” Mehan said. “It’s simple economics. A state’s labor policy is one of the top factors employers and site selectors look to when deciding where to move or expand businesses. The more favorable a state looks, the more jobs that state will have to offer its workers.”

The majority of Missouri employers support making our state Right-to-Work according to a recent survey of more than 1,000 CEOs and top management conducted by Gallup. Support for this policy was even higher in some industry sectors, such as transportation, utilities and communications, where 67 percent supported making Missouri a Right-to-Work state. The survey was part of the Missouri Chamber’s effort to develop a 15-year strategic economic plan for our state called Missouri 2030: An Agenda to Lead.

Gallup also interviewed site selectors about Missouri’s labor status.

“Site selectors encouraged Missouri to become Right-to-Work,” Mehan said. “One site selector commented that Missouri’s prospect flow in manufacturing is only 60 percent of what it would be if it was Right-to-Work.”

The Missouri Chamber encourages political leaders to look at the research.

“We have Gallup and leading economic development magazines citing the importance of labor status, but instead Missouri has chosen politics as usual,” Mehan said.

Over the last year, the Missouri Chamber has invested nearly $500,000 in a research through its Missouri 2030 initiative to develop a comparison of Missouri’s economic position among other states and identify ways the state can improve performance. The research showed that Missouri’s job growth significantly lags other states.  Missouri’s real GDP per capita grew less than 1 percent between 2003 and 2013, the 43rd slowest rate among the 50 states, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

“If 43rd in GDP growth is acceptable, then I guess we don’t need to make any changes to our economic policy as a state,” said Mehan. “But we believe that ranking is unacceptable and that Missouri needs to make changes to do better. This legislation would have helped us do better.”

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry (www.mochamber.com) is the largest business association in Missouri. Together, with the Missouri Chamber Federation, the Missouri Chamber represents more than 40,000 employers.

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Katie Rose Hargreaves West joins Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry staff as Director of Membership Outreach

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomes Katie Rose Hargreaves West as the organization’s new Director of Membership Outreach.

Katie Rose Hargreaves West

Katie Rose Hargreaves West

Hargreaves West joins the effort to protect and advance Missouri business by advocating for pro-business legislation and policy in the State Capitol. She will work with the Missouri Chamber membership team to retain members and create an onboarding process to familiarize investors with the Missouri Chamber’s programs and services. In addition she will be in charge of member recognition and special events for the Missouri Chamber.

“We are grateful and excited to have Katie Rose on board with the membership staff,” said Dan Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “Katie Rose brings a great deal of experience with membership retention and investor relations. She will strengthen our membership team to increase our capabilities as the largest business organization in the state.”

Most recently, Hargreaves West served as Director of Statewide Outreach for the North Carolina Chamber working on retention and conferences. Her other experience includes serving as a legislative correspondent for the United States Congress in Washington D.C., and political fundraising. Hargreaves West also has business experience in the private sector.

Hargreaves West earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from The University of Kansas. She is originally from the Kansas City area and will reside in Kansas City.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the largest business association in Missouri. Together with the Missouri Chamber Federation, the Missouri Chamber represents more than 40,000 employers.

House Bill 722 passes legislature: Keep employment law a statewide discussion

With municipalities in Missouri having discussions about implementing their own employment laws, a bill passed by the General Assembly would keep those discussions at the state level.

With a final vote by the House of Representatives, lawmakers have sent the governor House Bill 722, sponsored by Rep. Dan Shaul, a Republican from Imperial. The bill would stop cities from increasing the minimum wage, mandating a certain amount to sick leave and banning plastic or reusable shopping bags.

“We are seeing more and more cities take on issues that are best handled at the state level,” said Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. “This is a troubling situation for employers. If Missouri continues to allow individual cities to establish their own employment laws, it makes our state a less-attractive place to do business. I’d like to thank the General Assembly for addressing this emerging issue and we would ask the governor to sign this bill.”

House Bill 722 does not address efforts to pass municipal laws relating to “ban the box” criminal background checks. The Missouri Chamber remains concerned about “ban the box” efforts.

In addition to Rep. Shaul’s House Bill 722, similar provisions are included in House Bill 865, sponsored by Rep. Caleb Rowden, a Republican from Columbia; and Senate Bill 455, sponsored by Sen. Mike Kehoe, a Republican from Jefferson City.