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VOL. 124 | NO. 84 | Thursday, April 30, 2009

Daily Digest

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Diamond Cos. Files Expansion Permit

About two months after buying the former Chuck Hutton Toyota dealership at 1710 E. Brooks Road, Diamond Cos. has filed its application permit with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement to renovate the property.

Diamond, the holding company for Diamond International Trucks Inc., this week filed a $3.9 million permit to overhaul the 34,058-square-foot dealership that sits on 4.56 acres at the northeast corner of East Brooks and Millbranch roads.

Diamond Cos. paid $1.8 million for the dealership in late February, following Chuck Hutton Toyota’s move to 4601 Hutton Way, near Interstate 55 and East Shelby Drive. Diamond’s new acquisition is next door to one of the company’s 15 truck dealerships.

Grinder, Taber & Grinder Inc. is general contractor for the renovation, and Renaissance Group is the architect.

Diamond Cos. CEO Richard “Dick” Sweebe told The Daily News last month that the addition will double the company’s current space, giving Diamond International, which sells International and Isuzu trucks, about 10 acres of land and 60,000 square feet in multiple buildings.

Renovations also will be made to Diamond’s current dealership at 1750 E. Brooks Road. Sweebe said the total project investment, including the $1.8 million property acquisition, would be “north of $5 million,” although the final figures are still pending. Demolition and site work has begun and construction should be completed by early 2010.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

Gibbons Holds Gubernatorial Election Fundraiser

Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons held his largest fundraiser to date in his quest for governor with a $1,000-a-person event Tuesday evening in East Memphis.

Gibbons declared his candidacy late last year for the 2010 GOP nomination.

The event at The Crescent Center was closed to the press.

Meanwhile, Democratic State Sen. Jim Kyle of Memphis went public Tuesday with his timeline for considering a bid for governor.

Via his Twitter account, Kyle wrote, “Friends, I have received inquiries as to whether I will be a candidate for Tn Gov in ’10. Time for any such decision is after session ends,” referring to the end of the Nashville legislative session this summer.

Other declared Republican contenders for governor are Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, Chattanooga Congressman Zach Wamp and Lieutenant Gov. Ron Ramsey of Blountville.

Democratic contenders include former State House Democratic leader Kim McMillan of Clarksville and Jackson businessman Mike McWherter. The Gibbons fundraiser is one of three high-profile political events in Memphis this week.

Shelby County Commission chairwoman Deidre Malone opens her campaign for Shelby County mayor this evening with an event at The Racquet Club of Memphis. Malone is seeking the Democratic nomination in 2010.

Current Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton Jr., who is on the host committee for Malone’s fundraiser, is holding a unity prayer breakfast Saturday morning at The Cannon Center for the Performing Arts as part of his bid for Memphis mayor in 2011.

Leadership Memphis To Honor Grads, Advocates

Leadership Memphis will host its annual celebration May 5 at the Memphis Cook Convention Center with a reception starting at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. The annual event will honor thegroup’s next graduating classes and also recognize prominent Memphis community advocates, including University of Memphis president Dr. Shirley Raines, the United Way of the Mid-South and 2006 Leadership Memphis graduate Melvin Lee.

To RSVP for the event, contact Stacy Stuckey Tyler at (901) 278-0016 or email rsvp@leadershipmemphis.com.

Army Engineer Corps Money Stimulates County Projects

The United States Army Corps of Engineers has released more than $27 million in funding for civil works projects for Tennessee’s 9th Congressional District, which includes most of Shelby County.

H.R.1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, will fund the projects. The Recovery Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama on Feb. 17, appropriated $4.6 billion to the corps for its Civil Works program.

The local Recovery Act-funded civil works projects will include approximately 178 construction projects, 892 operation and maintenance projects, 45 Mississippi River and tributaries projects, 67 investigations projects and nine projects under the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program, which assists in the clean-up of “Cold War legacy wastes,” according to the FUSRAP Web site. A portion of the money, $653,000, will help finance a Wolf River dredging project.

Business Plan Workshop Set

The Memphis Renaissance Business Center is hosting a workshop Saturday on developing a business plan. The cost is $25.

The workshop will be held at 555 Beale St. from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The workshop will cover the fundamentals of writing a business plan. Topics include marketing and finance, legal and regulatory issues, operations and management.

For more information, call 526-9300.

Swine Flu Cases Increase in U.S.

The number of confirmed cases of swine flu in the U.S. has increased to 91 in 10 states, according to the Associated Press.

Dr. Richard Besser, the acting chief of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday morning that only five of those cases required hospitalization. A Mexican toddler who died in Texas is the first recorded death in the U.S. from the flu.

Cases have now been reported in Massachusetts, Michigan, Arizona, Nevada and Indiana. Cases had already been confirmed in California, Kansas, New York, Ohio and Texas.

No cases had been reported in Memphis, the Mid-South region or Tennessee by Wednesday morning.

Economy Experiences Continued Shrinkage

The U.S. economy contracted at a worse-than-expected 6.1 percent pace in the first quarter this year as sharp cutbacks by businesses and the biggest drop in U.S. exports in 40 years overwhelmed a rebound in consumer spending.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s report, released Wednesday, dashed hopes that the recession’s grip on the country loosened in the first quarter. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected a 5 percent annualized decline.

Instead, the economy ended up performing nearly as badly as it had in the final three months of last year, when it logged the worst slide in a quarter-century, contracting at a 6.3 percent pace. In the January-March quarter consumers came back to life, boosting their spending after two straight quarters of reductions. The 2.2 percent growth rate was the strongest in two years.

Much stronger demand for big-ticket “durable” goods, including cars, furniture and household appliances led the increase. Consumers also boosted spending on clothing, shoes, recreation services, medical care, gasoline and other energy products.

Businesses cut spending on home building, commercial construction, equipment, software, and inventories of goods. Sales of U.S. goods to foreign buyers plunged as they retrenched in the face of economic troubles in their own countries. Even the government trimmed spending. It was the first time that happened since the end of 2005.

All told, the economy logged its worst six-month performance since the late 1950s.

The recession, which began in December 2007, has taken a big bite out of national economic activity and snatched 5.1 million jobs.

President Barack Obama is counting on his $787 billion stimulus and increased government spending on big public works projects to help bolster economic activity. The administration also has put forward programs to rescue banks and curb home foreclosures — big negative forces weighing on the economy.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs called the first quarter’s showing a “pretty severe contraction,” but added that some more up-to-date signals on the economy have been more encouraging.

“We continue to get, as the president said, some glimmers of hope,” Gibbs said.

Fresh glimmers of hope emerged in the U.S. Tuesday. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rose far more than expected in April, jumping more than 12 points to 39.2, the highest level since November. And a housing index showed that home prices dropped sharply in February, but for the first time in 25 months the decline was not a record.

The Labor Department on Wednesday said that all 372 metropolitan areas saw their jobless rates rise in March from a year earlier. The national jobless rate is now at a quarter-century high of 8.5 percent and is expected to hit 10 percent by the end of this year. Economists don’t think it will return to normal – around a 5 percent jobless rate – until 2013.

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