One of the high flyers in the subprime-mortgage game was based in Kansas City. Shares of NovaStar Financial traded at $70 at one point.
It was an illusion baked in pie crust. NovaStar's business practices were so shoddy that even Lehman Brothers, which went bankrupt during the mortgage crisis, knew enough to stop buying and selling NovaStar-originated loans in 2004.
It's been reported that Tom Thornton, who resigned as president and chief executive of the Kansas Bioscience Authority in April, earned a $265,000 salary and a $100,000 bonus in 2010. Lavish compensation was on the list of complaints that Republican lawmakers lodged against the agency.
It turns out that Thornton had the potential to earn even more money. Kansas Watchdog, a conservative news outlet, obtained a copy of Thornton's contract and determined that he was eligible to receive $463,200.
In 1997, H&R Block got into the subprime lending business. The Kansas City-based tax-preparation company bought an outfit called Option One.
The diversification into home loans produced profits for a time. But eventually, the slimy practices on which subprime lending was built took hold like an infection. Block shut down the business in 2007 and sold it the following year.
File under: Shocker! Retail black hole Borders Group announced Friday that it would close 28 more stores by the end of May -- including the location at 91st Street and Metcalf in Overland Park, which was the chain's first area outpost.
In case you were looking for a barometer to quantify your complete lack of funds, the new Forbes billionaires list is out. And you're not on it. You already knew that, though. But there are quite a few Kansans and Missourians on the roster, including Kansas' most famous political puppet masters, Charles and David Koch.
Wichita's Charles, Forbes figures, is the 18th wealthiest fella on Earth and sixth in the nation, worth $22 billion. Little brother David is worth the same and, according to the magazine, is New York City's richest resident. (We can still claim him for blogging purposes, though.) Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his tiddly $18 billion can suck it!
Anybody who has been following Harley-Davidson's yearlong effort to retool operations by stripping away workers and wrangling concessions from labor unions knew this day was coming. The legendary motorcycle maker and Kansas City labor unions have announced that they reached an agreement. Yeah, job cuts are coming.
According to The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal (Harley's hometown paper), the new deal will ax 145 union positions when it goes into effect in 2012. That will leave the Kansas City Harley plant, which makes the Sportster, Dyna and VRSC bikes, with 540 full-time employees, down from 685 today, and 145 temporary and seasonal employees.
Over the weekend, the Star reported on local engineering firm Black & Veatch's recent contract to keep electricity pumping in southern Afghanistan. The company landed the $266 million job without having to bid for it, and despite poor government ratings on previous projects, it worked in the war zone.
The Star didn't wade into what role, if any, political contributions played in the government's generosity toward the Overland Park-based firm. Perhaps that's fair. Nowadays, most large companies are politically active, especially if they plan on grazing in Old Man Government's field. But it's still worth looking at who in Washington receives Black & Veatch's checks.
When Borders announced it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this morning, it was inevitable that Kansas City-area stores would be caught up in a cull of 30 percent of the chain's 700 stores. Now the list of stores to be shuttered is out, and the Borders at 8628 North Boardwalk Avenue is getting the ax.
A store manager reached by phone this morning wouldn't comment on when the store would close or how many employees work there. A national spokeswoman hasn't returned a message. We're guessing that she's probably pretty busy today.
Telling your university to keep its money-grubbing paws off your hard-earned profits? There's an app for that.
In 2009, Mizzou student Tony Brown kicked ass on a school assignment to make an iPhone app. He and a few other students created NearBuy, an app that tracks apartment listings in your area and allows you to call a listing agent right after you see an ad you like. It's a pretty bright idea and, no doubt, extremely useful in Columbia, where (as I discovered my senior year in a roach-infested hellhole) decent low-rent apartments near campus are a white-hot commodity. So, it's no surprise that the free app was downloaded more than 250,000 times.
Cities around the metropolitan area are reckoning with aging shopping malls. A number of enclosed shopping centers built in the 1960s, '70s and '80s -- which once were sales-tax machines lubricated by Orange Julius -- have been torn down or are begging for demolition.
A mall increases its odds of survival if it's located in an area of town where people have money. The company that owns Oak Park Mall says it plans to update the Overland Park shopping destination.
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