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VOL. 123 | NO. 21 | Thursday, January 31, 2008

Daily Digest

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RV World Buys Land, Plans to Move One Location

     RV World Co. Inc., which has recreation vehicle dealerships on both sides of East Brooks Road, has bought vacant land behind one of its current sites and plans to consolidate operations there.
     The company bought six vacant parcels totaling 6.34 acres on the west side of Hernando Road south of East Brooks from Southern Real Estate Holdings LLC for $400,000.
     The parcels back RV World's 1145 E. Brooks Road location. Together, the current site and vacant parcels will bring the company's holdings on that side of the street to more than 11 acres.
     The company's other site is across the street at 1160 E. Brooks.
     "I was on the 1160 side originally and then the guy on the 1145 side decided to sell, so I bought that property about three years ago," said Danny Davis, president of RV World Co. Inc. "It's better property and the 1160 property I can't buy. They won't sell it. It's like it's tied up in a trust and it's just something I can't buy even though I can lease it, I guess, until I die."
     Davis said he is waiting for approval of the final plat for the new site, but he hopes to pave the property, fence it and move RVs there from the 1160 E. Brooks location. He'd like to have that finished by summer, he said.
     After that, he wants to sublease the 7-acre site at 1145 E. Brooks. He hasn't started looking for a Realtor yet, though, because he doesn't want to rush the move.
     "I want to be comfortable when I leave there and be comfortable with what I've got to clean up over there to get ready for someone else."

Rhea & Ivy Merges With N.C. Firm

     The accounting firms of Rhea & Ivy PLC and Dixon Hughes PLLC are merging effective Friday, the companies announced this week.
     Rhea & Ivy opened in Memphis in 1954; today it employs 70 workers and 12 member owners at its offices at 6000 Poplar Ave.
     Asheville, N.C.-based Dixon Hughes ranks among the nation's top 20 certified public accounting firms and is the largest based in the Southeast. With a staff of more than 1,200 professionals throughout seven states, the firm provides a wide array of assurance, tax and advisory services to organizations in a variety of industries.
     As of Friday, the firm will operate in Memphis under the Dixon Hughes brand name. The Rhea & Ivy team will remain in Memphis and continue serving their existing clients.
     In addition, an existing Dixon Hughes office in Memphis currently serving primarily automotive dealerships will combine with the Memphis practice, bringing the total team to more than 90 people.

Economy Nearly Stalled in Q4; Suffers Worst Year Since '02

     The economy nearly stalled in the fourth quarter with a growth rate of just 0.6 percent, capping its worst year since 2002.
     Wednesday's Commerce Department report showed the economy deteriorated considerably during the October-to-December quarter as worsening problems in the housing market and harder-to-get credit made individuals and businesses more cautious in their spending. Fears of a recession have grown, even as inflation remained elevated.
     For all of 2007, the economy grew by just 2.2 percent, the weakest performance in five years, when the country was struggling to recover from the 2001 recession. The housing collapse was the biggest culprit; builders slashed spending on housing projects by 16.9 percent on an annualized basis, the most in 25 years.
     The 0.6 percent annualized increase in gross domestic product marked a big loss of momentum from the third quarter's brisk, 4.9 percent showing. The fourth-quarter pace was the slowest since the first quarter of last year.
     GDP measures the value of all goods and services produced within the United States and is the best barometer of the country's economic health.
     In the fourth quarter, consumer spending slowed to a pace of 2 percent, down from a 2.8 percent growth rate in the prior quarter. For all of last year, consumers boosted spending by 2.9 percent, the smallest increase since 2003.
     Businesses also watched their spending more closely during the final quarter of last year. Fearing a lessening appetite from their customers, they cut inventories of goods. That shaved 1.25 percentage points from fourth-quarter GDP, the most in a year.
     Spending by businesses on equipment and software slowed to a pace of 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter. For the year, such spending was up just 1.4 percent, the worst showing since 2002.
     Sales of U.S. goods and services abroad also slowed sharply in the fourth quarter. Exports grew at a 3.9 percent pace, compared with a sizzling 19.1 percent growth rate in the third quarter. That strong export growth was a key reason why the economy performed so well as a whole in the prior quarter. For all of 2007, exports grew by 7.9 percent, the slowest in two years.

Senate Speaker Seeks Update On Ophelia Ford's Health

     State Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey is asking for an update on the health of state Sen. Ophelia Ford after being told earlier this month she would miss several weeks of the legislative session with an unspecified illness.
     Ford's lawyer, David Cocke, wrote in a letter to Ramsey at the time that he would provide an update on her condition in about three weeks.
     Ford, 57, has been plagued by health issues over the past year. The Memphis Democrat said in March that she had a severe case of anemia that had caused her to miss much of last year's legislative session.
     Ramsey told Cocke in a letter Wednesday that he's awaiting his update.
     "In your letter you stated that you would provide an update on Senator Ford's ability to participate in this legislative session in three weeks," the Blountville Republican wrote. "I look forward to your promised report."
     Last week, Methodist University Hospital issued a statement saying Ford is in stable condition but needs to remain hospitalized.
     Ford has been in Methodist Hospital since about the first of December, according to her family.
     Last week, Senate Democrats withdrew a bill that would have allowed temporary replacements for sick lawmakers.
     Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis said an attorney general's opinion indicated that the law would have been unconstitutional.

Luminetx Launches New Service Divisions

     Luminetx Corp. has launched two new service divisions, the LumiCare Equipment Service and Luminetx Financial Services Group. The new divisions will be led by Ronn LaBrasca.
     The financial services group will allow Luminetx customers - hospitals and clinics across the globe - more flexible ways to acquire the VeinViewer technology, the company's signature product. The group will offer both capital and operating leases with varying lengths of terms, based on customers' needs.
     The equipment service group will provide on-site support and preventive maintenance services to Luminetx customers across the nation. To establish the group, Luminetx contracted with a third-party group that employs 350 field service engineers throughout the United States.

Grants to Help UTHSC Fight Heart Disease, Diabetes

     The University of Tennessee Health Science Center has been awarded $621,225 in grants by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
     The grants will fund continuing research to fight heart disease and diabetes in particular, two diseases "which are at epidemic levels in the ninth district," said U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., in announcing the grant in a statement.
     The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the Department of Health and Human Services awarded UTHSC $342,000 for continuing research on heart and vascular disease. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the department gave UTHSC $279,225 for research in diabetes, endocrinology and metabolic research.

MLGW Creates Blog With Company Updates

     In what's apparently a first for the country's largest three-service public utility company, Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division has created an Internet blog called "Bird on a Wire: Watt's Up at Memphis Light Gas & Water," to provide a new communication outlet for the company.
     The masthead of the new blog, which can be found at http://mlgw.blogspot.com/, features a red-tailed hawk resting on the wires at the company's Substation 7.
     The first posts at the blog cover a variety of topics, including the company's recycling program, MLGW's team that investigates cases of identity theft, and the company's utility bill analysis program, among other things.
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