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VOL. 122 | NO. 104 | Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Daily Digest

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Nike Buys Frayser Acreage For New Memphis Facility

     Nike Inc. has bought the 125-acre property at the corner of New Allen Road and Frayser Boulevard on which it plans to build its shoe distribution center. The deal closed last week on the $2 million purchase from Belz Investco GP and BICO Associates GP.
     Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike announced in March plans to build the center, which will combine the operations of facilities on Winchester Road and in Wilsonville, Ore. Those facilities will close.
     Nike's other Memphis facility, which is on Shelby Drive, will remain open.
     Though the size of the warehouse is not yet set in stone, it won't be less than 1 million square feet, said Willie Gregory, Nike director of community business investments. He said the initial blueprints called for 1 million square feet, but Nike still is reviewing information based on the needs of the business.
     The move to Frayser marks the first large industrial project in that area in 40 or 50 years, said Mark Herbison, senior vice president of economic development at the Memphis Regional Chamber.
     "We feel like that the construction of this distribution campus ... will be a catalyst for other development in that community, other industrial types of developments, but also retail and residential developments around that facility because you're going to have a whole lot of new jobs coming into the community," he said.
     The Memphis-Shelby County Industrial Development Board amended a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) tax freeze that went into effect two years ago. The new tax freeze will apply to real estate and personal property - such as equipment - at the Winchester and new Frayser facilities.
     As part of the tax freeze, Nike agreed to add nearly 600 jobs to the local market, according to PILOT documents. Those include 244 newly created jobs for the Frayser facility and 250 jobs at the Winchester facility that will move to Frayser once the new campus is built. It also includes 100 new jobs at the Shelby Drive facility, bringing employment there to 1,342.
     In addition, Nike might be eligible for a state FastTrack Infrastructure Development Program grant, said Maggie Conway, administrator of economic development for the Memphis and Shelby County Division of Planning and Development.
     A local legislative body must authorize FastTrack applications before they are submitted to the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development. The Memphis City Council will review the resolution June 19, she said.

Linden Yards Apartments Top DRB Agenda

     A construction project to renovate three buildings at 680, 708 and 713 Linden Ave. is being considered at today's Design Review Board meeting.
     The Linden Yards Apartments project would create more than 100 apartment units in the buildings. The developer for the project is Stephen Turgeon, who's affiliated with Linden Yard LLC.
     The meeting begins at 5 p.m. in the Center City Commission conference room, 114 N. Main St.
     For more information, call 575-0540.

Center City to Select Firm for Retail Study

     The Retail Study Selection Committee of the Center City Development Corp. meets Thursday at 9 a.m. in the Center City Commission (CCC) conference room, 114 N. Main St.
     The committee is meeting to select a firm to create a retail study and recruitment plan.
     The CCC has begun to seriously recruit more retail to the area, via the launch of an incentive fund that can provide business owners with some much-needed capital.
     Last year, the CCC hired former Downtown business owner Katrina Shelton as a business recruitment manager in an effort to lure more retail businesses Downtown.
     For more information, call 575-0540.

U.S. High Court to Consider FedEx Discrimination Suit

     The Supreme Court said Monday it will consider whether an age discrimination lawsuit against FedEx Corp. can proceed.
     At issue is whether a group of 14 FedEx employees, led by Patricia Kennedy and Paul Holowecki, followed proper procedures in suing FedEx for age discrimination.
     FedEx has argued the suit should be dismissed because Kennedy did not file a formal charge alleging age discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) until after she sued FedEx. The other employees joined Kennedy's complaint.
     Federal law requires plaintiffs to file a complaint with the EEOC and wait 60 days before they sue an employer, FedEx said. The law is intended to give the EEOC the opportunity to notify the company accused of discrimination, investigate the charges and seek to resolve them before a suit is filed, the company said.
     The plaintiffs responded that a form Kennedy filed with the EEOC in December 2001 included the information necessary to comply with
     that law and that the suit she and her
     colleagues filed in April 2002 should be allowed to proceed.
     A district court dismissed the case, but the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals,
     based in New York City, ruled in March 2006 that the case should be allowed to proceed. The court found that the EEOC's failure to follow through on Kennedy's complaint and notify FedEx should not preclude the plaintiffs' right to sue.
     The justices won't hear arguments in the dispute until the Supreme Court's next term, which begins in October.

Gossett Replaces Phillips As Luminetx CEO

     Businessman Al Gossett, owner of Gossett Motor Cars, has replaced Jim Phillips as chairman and chief executive officer of Luminetx Corp.
     Gossett will hold the position of interim chairman and CEO while the company's board of directors searches for a permanent replacement.
     Phillips assumed the position of vice chairman of the board at Luminetx effective Friday.
     "Phillips will transition from his current position as CEO and board chairman to that of vice chairman in order to better interface with the medical and financial communities embracing Luminetx technologies," according to a
     statement released Monday by the company. 
     Luminetx is behind the VeinViewer device, which allows veins to easily be seen through infrared light and computer technology.

House Passes He Legislation

     The Tennessee House on Monday passed a bill to change state custody laws. The changes reflect a recent state Supreme Court decision on a battle over an 8-year-old Chinese girl kept from her parents for seven years.
     The House voted 54-31 to pass the bill sponsored by Rep. G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis. The Senate Judiciary Committee has decided to wait until next year to take up the bill.
     The law will come from parts of the Supreme Court decision that reunited Shaoqiang "Jack" He, a former University of Memphis graduate student, and his wife, Qin Luo "Casey," with their daughter, Anna Mae.
     The parents said they were forced by financial hardship to put the girl temporarily into foster care. Since she was a month old, the girl lived with a Bartlett couple, Jerry and Louise Baker, who tried to adopt her over her parents' objections.
     The bill would change state law on what is considered abandonment. It would specify that a parent whose attempts to visit or support a child are "prevented by the acts of others" would not be considered to have willfully abandoned the child.
     After an argument over Anna Mae's custody in 2001, the Hes were run away from the Bakers' residence by police.
     Rep. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, said the bill is unnecessary because the Supreme Court already has ruled on the case.
     "It's a specific scenario that applies to two specific parities, and that case is already law," he said. "I think we're muddying the waters."

Senate Vote Would Alter Ethics Disclosure Reports

     Legislative and executive branch employees would have to make fewer reports of consulting or contract work under a bill unanimously passed by the Senate on Monday.
     Current law requires quarterly filings of the state Ethics Commission for any state employee doing business with state agencies. The bill sponsored by Sen. Tim Burchett, R-Knoxville, would require those filings be made only once a year.
     The companion bill has been placed behind the budget in the House, meaning it will be taken up with other bills once the Legislature passes a budget.
     The filing requirements became law in 2005 after revelations that then-Sen. John Ford, D-Memphis, was paid more than $800,000 in consultant payments from two contractors with TennCare, the state's expanded Medicare program. He faces federal charges of using his position as a senator to promote those contractors' interests.
     Ford was convicted in April on unrelated charges of taking $55,000 in bribes from undercover agents pretending to seek legislative favors for a computer recycling company.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 114 332 10,554
MORTGAGES 119 412 13,739
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 12 80 2,724
BUILDING PERMITS 522 915 25,222
BANKRUPTCIES 80 264 10,156
BUSINESS LICENSES 16 78 3,814
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 92 430 14,987
MARRIAGE LICENSES 15 83 3,250

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