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VOL. 124 | NO. 28 | Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Daily Digest

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MidSouth Pain Clinic To Open Germantown Location

MidSouth Pain Treatment Center LLC recently bought for $725,000 property at 1365 W. Brierbrook Road in Germantown. A loan was filed with Sycamore Bank Hernando in conjunction with the sale for $500,000.

The pain clinic currently operates a clinic in Southaven at 122 Airways Place, one block north of the intersection of Airways Boulevard and Goodman Road.

Dr. Michael Steuer is the president and medical director of the clinic. Holly Roberson, an assistant to Steuer, confirmed they “are going to open a new location” in Germantown, and that the Southaven location will remain open. A message left with the clinic’s office manager to determine the timeline of the new clinic’s opening was not returned by press time.

The Germantown property is a 21,344-square-foot lot on the west side of West Brierbrook Road south of Cordova Road North. A nearly 5,000-square-foot, one-story brick office building constructed in 1986 sits on the property. The Shelby County Assessor’s 2008 appraisal of the lot and building was $598,100.

The clinic’s Web site is www.midsouthpain.com.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

Wal-Mart to Lay Off 700-1,400 at Headquarters

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has begun laying off workers at its northwestern Arkansas headquarters in Bentonville, according to the local chamber of commerce.

“We have heard anything from 700 to 1,400, but we have no idea,” said Ed Clifford, the president of the Bentonville-Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce.

Wal-Mart and Sam’s Clubs have about 30,000 employees in northwestern Arkansas, including about 14,000 at their Bentonville headquarters.

“If you plunk it against their worldwide (employment), 2.2 million, it’s not that much,” Clifford said.

Bredesen Proposes Solar Research Center

Gov. Phil Bredesen wants to take advantage of industrial and scientific expertise in Tennessee to establish a solar power research lab and spur green energy job creation.

The Democratic governor said in his annual State of the State address Monday night that a Solar Institute could become “the basic research leader in making solar power practical.”

A partnership with the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory could help the state “become a national leader in basic solar research” by finding ways to make solar energy more affordable, Bredesen said.

“Solar power today is a tiny part of the power equation,” he said. “It remains far too expensive, and it’s ripe for breakthroughs. There’s a lot of basic science to be done.”

The governor’s initiative comes on the heels of a December announcement that Hemlock Semiconductor Corp. will build a $1.2 billion plant in Clarksville, Tenn., to produce polysilicon, a raw material used to make solar cells and semiconductor devices.

“To get all the right parties together to put best minds together to help advance the technology for solar sounds like a very interesting idea,” said Rick Doornbos, Hemlock’s president and chief executive officer, who attended the speech.

“There is a role we can play in terms of how helping to find out how do you keep moving that technology forward, lower the cost and improve the efficiency.”

Sharp Electronics Corp. also manufactures solar panels at its Memphis plant.

“We think that the time is right and the tools are here, and companies are interested,” said University of Tennessee President John Petersen.

Petersen said he would expect the Solar Institute idea to be modeled on the university’s experience with Oak Ridge and DuPont Co. in building one of the country’s first pilot project biorefineries turning corn cobs and switchgrass into fuel.

Private investments and grants likely would be key to the development of a solar research center as the state grapples with foundering revenues.

“Our core mission for the dollars we get from the state are to serve our educational community, but there will be other dollars hopefully that will be available to help us do that,” Petersen said.

Bredesen said Oak Ridge “can provide the draw and gravitas not only for scientists from all over the world to come work here, but also for Tennessee’s brightest young math and science students to stay and contribute in the years ahead.”

Tenn. Could Receive $4.3B in Stimulus Money

Tennessee Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz said the state could receive as much as $4.3 billion under the House version of the economic stimulus bill before Congress.

Goetz on Tuesday provided lawmakers with figures from both the House and Senate versions, the latter of which would give the state about $3.1 billion.

However, Goetz said the state also has a plan in place in case it doesn’t receive any stimulus money. It would have to make about $900 million in cuts for the budget year that begins July 1.

Administration officials have said stimulus money could ease those cuts.

The Senate approved the bill Tuesday on a 61-37 vote.

Obama Seeks to Help Banks Avoid Foreclosing

President Barack Obama said he’ll be unveiling an “overall housing strategy” in the weeks ahead, but he’s already looking at ways to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.

He told an audience in Fort Myers, Fla., Tuesday there needs to be a system in which banks recognize that it’s in their best interest not to foreclose on homes.

Obama said it’s more difficult than it used to be for homeowners to work out a deal with a bank to avoid foreclosure, because so many mortgages these days are held not by a bank, but by a group of investors. Obama said there needs to be changes made so the companies “servicing” those mortgages have the flexibility to seek options other than foreclosure.

Obama said part of the housing crisis has been caused by people who bought homes they couldn’t afford. But he said there’s a bigger group who, amid declining home values, are now dealing with a mortgage that’s higher than the value of their homes.

Wholesale Inventories Plunge By Most in 17 Years

Wholesalers cut back on their inventories in December by the largest amount in nearly 17 years, and economists say more reductions are likely amid the deepening recession.

The ongoing inventory reductions mean wholesalers likely will order fewer new goods, leading to reduced production and potentially more job layoffs.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported Tuesday that wholesale inventories plunged by 1.4 percent, nearly double analysts’ expectations of 0.8 percent and the steepest since records began in January 1992. It also was the fourth straight monthly decline.

Sales at the wholesale level dropped 3.6 percent, slightly steeper than analysts’ expectations, but less than November’s record 7.3 percent drop.

Wholesale inventories are goods held by distributors who generally buy from manufacturers and sell to retailers. They make up about 25 percent of all business stockpiles. Factories hold another third of inventories and retailers hold the rest.

Despite the sharp cut in inventories, sales are falling even faster, which means it is taking longer for distributors to clear out excess stockpiles.

The inventories-to-sales ratio rose to 1.27 in December, up from a slightly revised total of 1.24 in November. The ratio measures how many months it would take to clear inventories at the current sales pace. The ratio is at its highest level since March 2002.

Wholesalers are likely to reduce orders from manufacturers even further to bring down that ratio, Tim Quinlan, an economic analyst at Wachovia Corp., wrote in a research note.

Slowing retail sales are sending shock waves through the supply chain, forcing wholesalers to rapidly reduce supplies as their sales slow.

Consumers are cutting back on spending as jobs disappear and major investments, such as homes and retirement plans, decline in value. Consumer spending plunged more than 3 percent in the third and fourth quarters of last year, the steepest consecutive drops since records began in 1947.

Rhodes Receives National Service Award

Rhodes College has been named to the 2008 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction.

The honor recognizes leadership in building a culture of service on campuses and in communities across the country.

A total of 635 schools were listed on the third annual Honor Roll, with 83 noted for distinction and six receiving Presidential Awards.

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