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VOL. 6 | NO. 45 | Saturday, November 02, 2013

Daily Digest

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Crosstown Project Goes to Design Review Board

The $180 million redevelopment of the Sears Crosstown building goes to the Downtown Memphis Commission Design Review Board Wednesday, Nov. 6.

The review board will vote on design elements of the project as proposed by Crosstown LLC. A staff report recommends approval of the changes the group plans for the 14-story building and its detached parking garage.

The critical design elements include replacing original windows and a drive-thru feature toward the rear of the building off North Claybrook Street.

The Crosstown building is not in the Central Business Improvement District governed by Downtown Memphis Commission design guidelines. But it is close enough that the project qualified and was granted a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes arrangement by the Center City Revenue Finance Corp.

The design guidelines call for preserving existing windows and repairing them when possible. But the staff report concludes replacing the windows with ones that match the character of the building is appropriate, given the condition of the existing windows.

The drive-thru feature is also acceptable to the staff because of its location in the rear and its relatively small size compared to the scale of the entire building.

The Design Review Board meets at 4 p.m. in the Downtown Memphis Commission conference room, 114 N. Main St.

UT Medical Group Names New Chief Medical Officer

UT Medical Group Inc. has named Brad Canada as chief medical officer.

Canada, who previously served as associate chief medical officer and vice president of physician services for UT Medical Group, is a UT Medical Group nephrologist and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Canada also serves as medical director for the Satellite Dialysis clinic.

UT Medical Group is a private, nonprofit group practice affiliated with the UT Health Science Center College of Medicine faculty. Canada earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Mississippi and completed his medical degree, nephrology fellowship and master’s degree in epidemiology at UT Health Science Center.

Spay & Neuter Services to Hold SPAYtacular

Mid-South Spay & Neuter Services will hold its seventh annual SPAYtacular Gala and Silent Auction Nov. 3.

The event is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the group and will take place from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Downtown’s Jack Robinson Gallery, 44 Huling Ave.

Amenities for attendees include mimosas, a bloody mary bar, beer from Yazoo Brewing Co., wine and brunch food, as well as music from Vanessa Winter and Deering and Down, with Ron Childers as the emcee.

Tickets are $40 per person and $75 for a pair and can be purchased at spaytacular2013.eventbrite.com.

All proceeds from SPAYtacular supports the mission of reducing pet overpopulation through affordable spay and neuter surgery.

Haslam Says Medicaid Deal Unlikely This Year

Gov. Bill Haslam says it is unlikely the state will hammer out a deal with the federal government on Medicaid expansion before the new year.

The Republican governor told reporters in Nashville on Wednesday that negotiations have been hampered by the problems with the online insurance marketplaces.

Haslam said the federal government officials that the state has been in discussions with have been busy dealing with the federal exchange website serving 36 states including Tennessee.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday set a Nov. 30 deadline for fixing the problems that have overwhelmed the website intended to make shopping for insurance clear and simple.

Haslam in March declined $1.4 billion in federal funds to cover about 140,000 uninsured Tennesseans under the terms the money was offered.

Average Mortgage Rate Falls to 4.10 Percent

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell for the second straight week and are at their lowest levels in four months.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year loan declined to 4.10 percent from 4.13 percent last week. The average on the 15-year fixed loan eased to 3.20 percent from 3.24 percent.

Rates have been falling since September when the Federal Reserve surprised investors by continuing to buy $85 billion a month in bonds. The purchases are intended to keep long-term interest rates low.

Rates had spiked over the summer when the Fed indicated it might reduce those purchases later this year. But hiring has slowed since then. Many now expect the Fed won't taper until next year.

The average on the 30-year loan has now fallen about half a percentage point since a hitting two-year high over the summer. The lower rates appear to be sparking a surge in activity by prospective homebuyers and homeowners looking to refinance.

Pandas Stay in Memphis for 10 More Years

Two giant pandas have a home at the Memphis Zoo for at least 10 more years.

WREG-TV in Memphis reports that the Zoo and the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens and China’s State Forestry Administration reached a deal Wednesday morning.

China owns and leases all pandas to other zoos throughout the world and will lease them to the Memphis Zoo for half a million dollars a year.

The process of acquiring giant pandas for the Memphis Zoo began in 1999.

The Memphis Zoo has had Ya Ya and Le Le since April 2003.

Unemployment Aid Applications Drop

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 340,000, a sign that employers are laying off very few workers.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the four-week average rose 8,000 to 356,250, the highest since April. The 16-day partial government shutdown and backlogs in California due to computer upgrades inflated the average.

Still, a government spokesman said those unusual factors did not affect last week's first-time applications, which appeared to be free of distortions for the first time in two months.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have fallen for three straight weeks and are just above the pre-recession levels reached in August.

Fewer applications are typically followed by more job gains. But hiring has slowed in recent months, rather than accelerated.

The economy added an average 143,000 jobs a month from July through September. That's down from an average of 182,000 in April through June, and 207,000 during the first three months of the year.

Nearly 3.9 million people received unemployment benefits in the week ended Oct. 12, the latest data available. That's about 40,000 more than the previous week. But a year ago, more than 5 million people were receiving unemployment aid.

Hiring likely weakened even further in October because of the shutdown, which ended on Oct. 16.

Upholstery and Design Author to Visit Memphis

If you have a quality piece of furniture that has seen better days but still has potential, or family heirlooms and flea market finds you’ve wanted to transform, an Austin, Texas-based upholstery and design expert will be offering hands-on advice in Memphis next week

Amanda Brown, author of the upcoming book “Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design,” will host a book-signing Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 6 p.m. at The Booksellers at Laurelwood, 387 Perkins Road Extended.

She will also host two beginner upholstery classes – a bench class and a lampshade class – followed by a book-signing party on Wednesday, Nov. 6, at Propcellar Vintage Rentals, 4726 Poplar Ave., suite 4.

And on Thursday, Nov. 7, she will hold a book-signing at Me & Mrs. Jones, 889 S. Cooper St.

In the upcoming book, Brown leads beginners through six upholstery projects, teaching the basic skills needed to tackle most furniture makeovers.

Brown launched Spruce, a furniture redesign studio, in 2007. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Metropolitan Home and Southern Living.

Consumer Prices Rise 0.2 Percent in September

U.S. consumer prices increased only slightly in September, as higher energy costs offset flat food prices. The figures are the latest evidence that slow economic growth is keeping inflation tame.

The consumer price index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent in September, the Labor Department said Wednesday. That’s up from 0.1 percent in August. Higher gas, electricity and other energy costs rose 0.8 percent, making up about half the overall increase.

In the past year, consumer prices have increased just 1.2 percent, down from a 1.5 percent annual gain in August. That’s the smallest 12-month gain since April, and it’s below the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent inflation target.

Excluding volatile food and energy costs, core prices rose just 0.1 percent and are up 1.7 percent in the past 12 months.

High unemployment and meager wage increases have made it difficult for Americans to pay more for most goods. That has also made it hard for retailers to charge more.

Prices for clothing and hotels fell, while airline fares, new car prices, and rents rose. Fruit and vegetable prices dropped, offsetting increases in meat, breads and dairy products.

September’s report also includes data used by the Social Security Administration to calculate cost-of-living adjustments for 58 million Social Security beneficiaries. Mild inflation means benefits will increase 1.5 percent next year, among the smallest increases since the automatic adjustments began in 1975.

The shutdown has likely slowed growth in an already weak economy. Economists expect economic growth at an annual rate of between 1.5 percent and 2 percent from July through September. That would be down from a 2.5 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter.

Barret’s Chapel May Expand to K-8 School

Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson will recommend the school board expand Barret’s Chapel Elementary School to kindergarten through eighth grade starting next school year. The school currently serves kindergarten through fifth grade.

Hopson announced the recommendation Monday, Oct. 28.

Parents of students at the elementary school were concerned about the long bus trip for those students to attend Mt. Pisgah Middle School next school year.

Barret’s Chapel had once been a K-8 school.

The school board also approved a memorandum of understanding with Christian Brothers University to consult with the school system on the development of a proposed STEAM optional school at Fairview Middle School, near the CBU campus. STEAM is a curriculum that emphasizes science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics.

Over the five-year agreement, the university will provide consulting engineers and professional development at a cost of up to $25,000 a year, and university personnel will assist in developing the curriculum.

Commission Approves Employee Conversion Plan

Shelby County Commissioners at first defeated and then approved a plan Monday, Oct. 28, that would convert some temporary county government positions to full-time jobs and eliminate more temporary positions across county government and within the offices of countywide elected officials.

The revenue neutral plan is a reaction to the federal Affordable Care Act, which defines a 30-hour work week as a full-time employee with health care coverage effective with the new year.

The list of 19 temporary positions that would become full-time positions under the plan included the names of those currently holding the positions. That included a social media position at Memphis-Shelby County Juvenile Court now held by the son of court Chief Administrative Officer Larry Scroggs.

Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Kim Hackney said the jobs would be posted and filled after applicant interviews and a process supervised by the administration.

Commissioners voted on the Juvenile Court positions separately and then all the other positions in the plan, and in two separate votes, defeated both items.

The commission then reconsidered that vote, then voted on the plan as a single item and approved it.

RedRover Completes Move to New Office

RedRover Sales & Marketing has completed its move from South Main to its new home at 22 N. Front St.

The firm looked for a new spot Downtown because it outgrew the space that housed it for the last three years. RedRover founder and CEO Lori Turner-Wilson said this summer that the new space will allow the firm to grow to three times its current staff over the next five years.

Rainey Kizer Renews Downtown Lease

The law firm of Rainey, Kizer, Reviere & Bell PLC has renewed its lease in the Raymond James Tower Downtown and expanded its presence there.

Its current expansion brings a larger conference room and more attorney offices, boosting the firm’s footprint by 30 percent and providing room for future growth.

Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors vice president Jeb Fields and associate Neely Mallory represented Rainey Kizer in the lease transaction. Rainey Kizer president John Burleson said many of the firm’s Jackson, Tenn.-based attorneys try cases in Memphis and work from the Downtown office during the trials, and being close to Interstate 40 and Interstate 55 also helps serve the firm’s Arkansas- and Mississippi-based clients.

With 38 attorneys, Rainey Kizer is one of the 20 largest firms in Tennessee. It was founded in Jackson in 1975 and opened an East Memphis office in 2005. As the firm grew, it moved Downtown in 2008.

Wright Medical to Present at Health Care Conference

Memphis-based Wright Medical Group Inc. will participate in the Credit Suisse 2013 Healthcare Conference Nov. 14.

Robert Palmisano, president and CEO of Wright Medical, will present at the conference, being held in Scottsdale, Ariz. A live audio webcast, along with Palmisano’s presentation materials, will be available on Wright's website, wmt.com.

This month, Wright Medical announced it had reached a $75 million agreement to buy the French company Biotech International, a privately held manufacturer of surgical implants and advanced fixation technologies that deal with fractures.

In addition, Wright Medical and MicroPort Scientific Corp. are awaiting regulatory approval for the proposed $290 million sale of Wright’s knee and hip division, OrthoRecon, to a division of Shanghai-based MicroPort.

Wright Medical won approval earlier this year to relocate its corporate headquarters from Arlington to Memphis. The company will maintain its manufacturing facilities in Arlington.

EdR Reports Quarterly Revenue Increase

Memphis-based EdR, one of the nation’s largest developers, owners and managers of collegiate housing, reported increased revenues in the third quarter.

The student housing real estate investment trust posted revenue of $44.2 million in the quarter ended Sept. 30, a 34.4 percent increase from $32.9 million in the third quarter of 2012.

Core funds from operations in the quarter were $8.7 million, up 47.4 percent from $5.9 million in the third quarter last year.

EdR recorded same-community revenue growth of 5 percent for the 2013-2014 lease term, with a net rental rate increase of 2 percent.

During the third quarter, EdR completed its previously announced $56.2 million acquisition of the Retreat at State College, a 587-bed community serving Penn State University.

The company also acquired the Cottages on Lindberg, a 745-bed community serving Purdue University in Indiana, for $36 million.

EdR also delivered five new owned development communities with 2,750 beds for an aggregate cost of $192.4 million. Those communities opened 92.4 percent leased. Through the first nine months of the year, EdR reported revenue of $131.8 million, up from $99.2 million over the same period last year.

Freedom Prep Among SCORE Prize Finalists

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education – or SCORE – has included a Memphis charter school, Freedom Preparatory Academy, among the finalists for its third annual SCORE Prize.

The Nashville-based education reform collaborative, founded and chaired by former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, gives an annual award to the elementary, middle and high school in the state that shows the most dramatic improvement in student achievement, as well as one school district in the state.

The collaborative awards the winning schools with $10,000 each, and the school district gets $25,000.

Freedom Prep is the only Memphis school among the finalists. The winners were to be named Monday, Oct. 28.

The school opened in the fall of 2009. It is the school Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam picked to sign into law the bill that did away with limits on the number of charter schools in the state.

The sixth- through ninth-grade school is in the old Lakeview Elementary School in the Westwood area.

Copeland Launches Career-Coaching Venture

Memphian Angela Copeland is launching a career-coaching practice called Copeland Coaching.

Copeland Coaching is offering help at all stages of the job search, including networking, interviewing and negotiation, and is helping professionals of all levels who want a career change.

Copeland also has written an e-book, “Breaking the Rules and Getting the Job,” that provides practical advice for job-seekers. The book was released Monday, Oct. 28, and is available at copelandcoaching.com.

For more information, contact Copeland at 270-4969 or email angela@copelandcoaching.com.

State Leaders Avoid Zero-Emissions Plan

The Nissan plant in Tennessee that makes the all-electric Leaf stands to benefit from an announcement last week that eight states will work together to dramatically increase the number of zero-emission cars on the nation’s roads.

But Tennessee isn’t among the states signing the agreement, and Republican leaders say they have no plans to do so.

Meanwhile, a state program offering a $2,500 incentive for electric vehicle purchases expired in January, and Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration has made no moves to revive it.

Nissan makes the Leaf and its lithium-ion batteries at its sprawling plant in Smyrna, a Nashville suburb.

The Japanese automaker sold more than 16,000 Leafs through the first nine months of the year – three times as many as through the same period a year ago.

Governors from eight states representing 23 percent of the U.S. auto market pledged Thursday to get 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on roadways by 2025 in an effort to curb greenhouse gas pollution from transportation sources.

Each state has already adopted rules to require a percentage of new vehicles sold to be zero emission by 2025. California’s mandate calls for growing the zero-emission vehicles from the current level of less than 2 percent to more than 15 percent, or 1.5 million vehicles.

The other states involved in the agreement are Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Moody’s Downgrades First Horizon Ratings

Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the long-term ratings of Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp. and its subsidiaries.

Moody’s affirmed the financial strength rating of First Horizon subsidiary First Tennessee Bank, but the bank’s baseline credit assessment was lowered. And the bank’s long-term deposit rating also was downgraded.

Moody’s said the downgrade mostly reflects the drag of First Horizon’s legacy mortgage banking business on the company’s performance.

Factory Output Rises Slightly in September

U.S. factories barely boosted their output in September, adding to other signs that the economy was slowing even before the government shutdown began on Oct. 1.

Manufacturing production rose only 0.1 percent, the Federal Reserve said Monday. That’s down from a 0.5 percent gain in August, which was slightly lower than previously reported.

Automakers boosted their output in September, but the gain was offset by declines at makers of computers, furniture and appliances.

Overall industrial production increased 0.6 percent in September, mostly because of a 4.4 percent jump in utility output. Utilities had fallen for five months. But September was unseasonably warm, likely increasing air conditioning use.

Mining output, which includes oil production, rose 0.2 percent, its sixth straight increase.

Factory output is the largest component of industrial production. It had shown signs of rebounding over the summer, raising hopes that factories would help drive economic growth in the second half of the year.

But several reports suggest businesses and consumers had both grown more cautious right before the 16-day partial government shutdown.

And overall hiring has slowed. Those factors could keep the economy weak until next year.

UPS More Than Doubles Third Quarter Profit

A pickup in deliveries helped UPS more than double its profit from a year ago, when Big Brown took a hit from pension-restructuring costs.

UPS delivered more than 1 billion packages in the quarter, an increase of 4.6 percent, led by gains in international-export and U.S. ground shipments.

The company’s U.S. business was helped by growth in online retailing, although a slowing in the financial-services industry cut into next-day-air letter deliveries.

Overseas, volume rose due to growth in European exports.

But Asia was flat as international customers continued to shift from priority air service to cheaper but slower delivery options. UPS has been trimming cargo flights from Asia.

“Our third-quarter results improved from the first half of the year even though our business faced similar market dynamics,” Chairman and CEO Scott Davis said Friday on a conference call with analysts.

The company added that it plans to hire 55,000 workers to handle the holiday-season crush – about the same as the last two years.

It expects daily volume to rise 8 percent over 2012. UPS believes that the busiest day will be Monday, Dec. 16, when it expects to pick up more than 34 million packages.

United Parcel Service Co. said that net income in the third quarter soared to $1.10 billion, or $1.16 per share.

That was a penny better than analysts expected and an improvement over the $469 million, or 48 cents per share, that UPS earned a year ago.

The 2012 figure would have been $1.06 per share without a $559 million pension-restructuring charge.

Revenue rose 3.4 percent to $13.52 billion, below analysts’ forecast of $13.59 billion, according to FactSet.

Expenses declined 4.8 percent, as spending on compensation and benefits fell 8.1 percent without the big pension hit.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 0 5,073
MORTGAGES 0 0 6,709
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 1,556
BUILDING PERMITS 0 0 11,979
BANKRUPTCIES 0 0 5,300
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 0 2,061
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 7,058
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 1,458

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