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Tractor Supply Co. expanding its presence in Missouri

Jeff Fox
The Examiner

Tractor Supply Company is buying the Orscheln Farm and Home chain. Both companies have stores in Eastern Jackson County.

This looks like a good move for TSC in Missouri, where it has about two dozen locations – only four north of Interstate 70. Orscheln has nearly four dozen stores across the state, many of them in smaller cities without a TSC anywhere near.

Jeff Fox

Orscheln, based in Moberly, Mo., has been a familiar sight in exurban and rural communities for years, and three years ago it opened a store in Blue Springs. Its other greater metro area stores are in Kearney, Excelsior Springs, Basehor, Louisburg and Gardner. Overall it has 167 stores in 11 states from Texas to Iowa and Ohio.

Tractor Supply Company, based in Brentwood, Tenn., calls itself “the largest rural lifestyle retailer in the United States.” At the end of 2020, it had 1,923 stores in 49 states, and that footprint pushes a little deeper into the suburbs: Independence, Lee’s Summit, Olathe and Lansing.

TSC said it’s paying approximately $297 million for Orscheln.

Comcast sets upgrade

Comcast, which provides service to Blue Springs and Independence, is taking more steps toward digital equity as well as equity issues in communications and technology.

On March 1, it plans another increase in speed for its Internet Essentials broadband service for low-income customers. The service remains at $9.95 a month, a price the company has held for 10 years. The new speeds are 50 Mbps downstream (up from 25 Mbps) and 5 Mbps upstream (up from 3 Mbps). The company says this is the largest and most comprehensive low-cost Internet adoption program for low-income Americans.

The company, based in Philadelphia, also plans to have more than 1,000 “Lift Zones” in community centers across the country by the end of the year. That gives students the chance to work online even if their school’s WiFi is unavailable.

The company also says it’s committed $40 million to partners focused on education and equity, including $3.5 million to help people of color develop skills needed in media and technology. 

Gas prices headed up

AAA Missouri says gas prices, which hit $2.31 a gallon last week, are slightly higher than the high for all of 2020 – $2.22 in early January. Missourians are still paying about a quarter a gallon less than the national average.

The reason, according to AAA, is the success of oil-producing nations in tightening supply. Crude oil accounts for about half of the cost at the pump, AAA says. Also, driving has picked up slightly but remains about 10 percent below levels from one year ago.

Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at jeff.fox@examiner.net or @FoxEJC.