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VOL. 123 | NO. 69 | Tuesday, April 8, 2008

While Most Q1 Biz Licenses Down, Hickory Hill Area's Up 14 Percent

By Rosalind Guy

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NEW KID ON THE BLOCK: The Benchmark Hotel Downtown, across from The Peabody hotel, was one of the 1,594 businesses that filed for a license in the first quarter. -- Photo By Rosalind Guy

Despite the negative news surrounding the Hickory Hill area since a tornado struck there in February, business owners still seem to view it as a good place to have a business.

The 38115 ZIP code in Hickory Hill had the largest number of business license filings in first quarter 2008, with 99 filings, a nearly 14 percent increase from the year-ago period.

Overall, business license filings for the quarter dropped 7.3 percent to 1,594 from 1,720 in Q1 2007. In Q1 2006, 1,929 business licenses were filed.

Beanie Self, executive director of Southeast Memphis Community Development Corp., said her office hasn't kept up much with the businesses in the area.

pInstead, the CDC's focus has been on foreclosures, which have been high in Hickory Hill during the past several years.

Recently, though, she has started tracking the businesses in the area because she'd like to organize local business owners into a business association to help address some of their issues. But she was able to speculate about some of the possible reasons for the high number of business license filings.

Here's why

First, she said, you have to consider the area's size.

Hickory Hill is bounded on the north by Tenn. 385, on the east by the city of Memphis boundary, on the south by Holmes Road and Shelby Drive, and on the west by Mendenhall Road.

"Because the area is large, it could explain the large number of filings," she said. "Also, there may be a lot of applications for businesses because normally what happens is there will be a lot of applications, but with any type of business there also will be a lot of failures due to lack of capitalization and business expertise."

She pointed out that there are also two large churches in the area, New Direction Christian Church and World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church, which offer entrepreneurial programs to their members.

New Direction even launched the Power Center Entrepreneurial Institute in 2007, whose purpose is to improve the overall economic standing of the neighborhood, according to information on its Web site.

Typically, when people leave those programs they're fired up and have a checklist of things to do that includes filing for a business license, Self said.

Back to the numbers

The ZIP code that experienced the biggest Q1 gain among ZIPs with at least 20 filings in the quarter was Cordova North's 38016, which increased 43.6 percent to 79 filings from 55 in the year-ago period. Millington's 38053 saw the greatest decline among the same group, a 36.8 percent drop to 24 filings from 38 in Q1 2007.

While many of the businesses filing for licenses qualify as small businesses, there are some filings from larger businesses such as the Clarion Plaza Hotel in the 38134 ZIP code. Some businesses also file for a license once their license expires, like the Chick-fil-A restaurant in Oak Court Mall.

Among corporate charter filings with the Shelby County Register of Deeds, a large majority - more than 41 percent - was for in-state limited liability companies.

However, the number of LLCs dropped 22.8 percent from Q1 2007. The second most common corporate filing was in-state corporate charters with 123 filings, up 4.2 percent from the 118 in the year-ago period.

Perhaps reflective of the current crisis in the real estate market, there was only one filing for a construction company, Brian Deas Construction in Arlington. And many of the businesses that filed for licenses during the quarter were service-oriented businesses such as C & L Catering Services, Cancun Market and Broady Cleaning Service.

PROPERTY SALES 61 61 6,453
MORTGAGES 46 46 4,081
BUILDING PERMITS 113 113 15,474
BANKRUPTCIES 19 19 3,289