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VOL. 127 | NO. 197 | Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Daily Digest

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Civil Rights Museum Files $7.5 Million Permit

The National Civil Rights Museum has filed a $7.5 million permit application with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement for facility renovations.

General contractor Flintco LLC filed the permit for 450 Mulberry St. in the South Main Historic Arts District on behalf of the museum and its owner, the state of Tennessee.

The Civil Rights Museum last year set a goal of $40 million for a capital campaign to renovate the 20-year-old museum as well as establish an endowment.

During last fall’s campaign kickoff, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam renewed the state’s commitment to an expanded and updated museum with state funding of nearly $2.5 million. The first half of the $5 million in state funding came during the last year of Phil Bredesen’s tenure as governor.

The museum – housed in the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968 – now draws 200,000 visitors annually.

But that number is limited by the museum’s size, Civil Rights Museum executive director Beverly Robertson said last year.

Robertson also expressed concern about the aging technology that once was considered cutting edge but now is difficult to find replacement parts for and maintain.

Of the $40 million total for the museum project, $27 million would be for construction and renovation that will give the museum a new look, inside and out.

The remaining $13 million would be for an endowment.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

MAAR Reports September Home Sales

Memphis-area home sales for September rose 17.1 percent from the same month a year ago, with 1,287 total sales recorded in the Memphis Area Association of Realtors MAARdata property records database.

Total sales decreased 15 percent from August.

Average sales price year over year was up 1.6 percent at $128,971.

Inventory declined 2.1 percent, with 7,392 units listed for sale. Sales volume year to date increased 17.6 percent to $1.46 billion.

“Average sales price for September topped $132,000 and was at almost $155,000 for non-bank sales,” MAAR president Carol Lott said in a written statement. “That’s encouraging. Year to date we’re up in sales, pricing and sales volume.”

The database includes records of all property transactions in Shelby, Fayette and Tipton counties.

To see real estate information company Chandler Reports’ September totals for Shelby County, see Monday, Oct. 15’s edition of The Daily News.

– Sarah Baker

Foreclosure Help Notices Being Mailed in Tennessee

Notices are going out in the mail to an estimated 37,000 Tennessee borrowers who may be eligible for payment under a $25 billion national mortgage foreclosure settlement.

Eligible borrowers will be receiving claim forms in the mail this month and Attorney General Bob Cooper of Tennessee urged residents to complete the forms and return them by the Jan. 18 deadline.

Those eligible include people who lost their homes to foreclosure between Jan. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2011, to five of the nation’s largest mortgage services, which is Ally/GMC, Bank of America, Citi, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

The packages will be mailed through Oct. 12.

– The Associated Press

Human Resource Executive Seminar Set for Oct. 11

HR Professionals Magazine, in partnership with the Memphis chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management, will present a seminar on strategic leadership for HR executives Thursday, Oct. 11, at the Crescent Club, 6075 Poplar Ave.

The seminar will be from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. with a wine and cheese reception to follow.

The keynote speaker is Jim Wachtel, national sales director with HealthCheck 360. He will discuss selling wellness to a company’s chief financial officer and the CFO’s role.

Cristie Upshaw Travis, CEO of Memphis Business Group on Health, will discuss the status of health care reform since the Supreme Court ruling and health care exchanges.

Cynthia Thompson, principal and consultant with The Thompson HR Firm and editor of HR Professionals Magazine, will discuss strategies to reduce compensation expense.

Sponsors of the event are Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance, DataFacts Inc., the Kiesewetter Law Firm PLLC, Jackson Lewis LLP and Waddell & Reed Financial Advisors.

First Tennessee Advisory Services is sponsoring the wine and cheese reception.

The cost of the seminar is $45 for SHRM members and $50 for non-SHRM members.

The deadline to register is Tuesday, and pre-registration is required. Visit www.HRProfessionalsMagazine.com to register.

For more information contact Thompson at cynthia@hrprosmagazine.com or 598-0123.

– Andy Meek

Comcast Rolls Out Feature for Small Business Customers

Comcast Corp., one of the nation’s leading providers of information and communications products and services, has launched Business Class Signature Support, a new technical support and equipment protection program for small-business customers.

With this new offering, Comcast Business Services now provides its customers a single source of support for the computers, tablets, mobile devices, servers and networks that power their small business. Small-business customers will have access to experienced information technology specialists who can provide advanced technical support online, over the phone, or in person at their convenience.

Customers will be able to choose from several monthly packages ranging from round-the-clock remote support, onsite assistance and extended warranties.

Comcast also will offer one-time services such as virus removal, system set-up and wired and wireless network connectivity.

– Andy Meek

Wal-Mart, American Express Team on Prepaid Card

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and American Express are rolling out a prepaid card that they say offers unique services designed to help customers manage and control their everyday finances.

The two companies said Monday, Oct. 8, that Bluebird, which began during a pilot program late last year, will have no minimum balance and no monthly, annual or overdraft fees. They say that the only fees that will be associated with the card will be transparent and within the user’s control, such as out-of-network ATM withdrawals by consumers who don’t use direct deposit.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and American Express Co. say the card is an alternative to debit and checking accounts and will include such features as the ability to deposit a check to one’s Bluebird account by simply taking a picture with a smart phone.

It will also offer the same fraud protections in an event the card is stolen or lost as other standard cards.

The companies say Bluebird was built on feedback from consumers who said they were bothered by rising fees related to checking accounts and debit services.

The move comes as American Express is looking for new ways to expand its customer base beyond its traditional wealthy clientele. For Wal-Mart, the Bluebird service is the latest financial product offering to be pushed by the world’s largest retailer, but it’s also the most comprehensive.

Prepaid cards are a fast-growing segment of the payments industry. While the cards are aimed mainly at people who don’t have bank accounts or whose credit ratings are damaged, they also are becoming popular with consumers seeking to avoid surprise bank fees and keep from accumulating credit card balances.

But prepaid cards are typically not linked to a checking account. Monday’s announcement shows how the financial service landscape is changing in light of the rising popularity of smart phones and other technological advances, and evolving needs of consumers, who want on-the-go financial services.

Bluebird will be available next week at www.bluebird.com and in more than 4,000 Walmart stores.

– The Associated Press

PROPERTY SALES 103 137 4,008
MORTGAGES 84 131 4,521
BUILDING PERMITS 178 368 9,636
BANKRUPTCIES 50 110 2,995