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VOL. 124 | NO. 60 | Friday, March 27, 2009

Daily Digest

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General Dollar Store Slated for Millbranch

Coldwater, Miss.-based Ware Properties LLC has filed a $485,000 permit application with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement to build a Dollar General store at 4546 Millbranch Road in Whitehaven. The 9,014-square-foot store will sit on 1.15 acres along the east side of Millbranch, north of East Shelby Drive.

Ware Properties in February bought the land for $185,000 from Southland Development Partners of Memphis. The company subsequently filed a $784,000 construction loan on the property through Sycamore Bank.

The company has broken ground and the “turnover” date is scheduled for Sept. 1, although Ware Properties president Sam Ware said the store should be ready two months ahead of schedule, around July 1. Ware Properties will retain ownership of the land and building, leasing the facility back to Dollar General.

Ware Properties is the exclusive developer of Dollar General stores in West Tennessee and North Mississippi. This is one of a few stores that Ware Properties is currently building for Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based Dollar General Corp., Ware added.

Ware said the company has recently completed one on Frayser Boulevard and Dollar General is stocking that shop now. Ware Properties is building a store on U.S. 61 (South Third Street), which should be delivered April 20, and another on East Shelby Drive near Tchulahoma Road, which should be delivered Sept. 1.

All the new buildings are 9,014 square feet, Ware said, adding that MTE of Memphis is the contractor for all of Ware Properties’ Dollar General projects.

Dollar General has nine stores in Memphis, according to the company’s Web site. Emily Weiss, spokeswoman for Dollar General, confirmed the company had signed a lease to build a new store on Millbranch Road. Dollar General is looking to add as many as 450 new stores in the coming year and renovate other locations as part of a corporate growth strategy.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

Center City Commission To Discuss Marketing RFQ

The Center City Commission’s board of directors today will discuss submissions from marketing firms responding to a request for qualifications to help bring more visitors Downtown and keep a sustained interest in the city’s core.

Qualifications from interested firms were due earlier this month. Positive media coverage about Downtown as well as growth in foot traffic and sales to Downtown merchants and venues were listed among the benchmarks for success, according to the RFQ the CCC issued.

The CCC board of directors will discuss that and other items at its meeting today at noon at the CCC office, 114 N. Main St.

Clinic Spin-Off Possible, MED CEO Says

Claude Watts, the interim president and chief executive officer of The Regional Medical Center at Memphis, told the board of trustees for the county-owned hospital on Thursday morning that he is in talks to divest the hospital’s health loop clinics to community health centers that provide similar services.

Federally qualified health care clinics, such as Christ Community Health Services, can obtain federal grants to offset reimbursement shortfalls for which The MED does not qualify. The hospital’s health loop system had a $10 million operating loss for the fiscal year ended June 30, said Lynn Pleasants, the hospital’s vice president of ambulatory services. Shelby County provided a $3.8 million subsidy that cut the loss to $6.2 million.

The implementation of cost-cutting measures has decreased the projected operating loss at the clinics for the current year going forward to an estimated $4.5 million to $5 million, she said.

Jeane Chapman, a member of the hospital’s board, asked that the impact of possibly spinning off the clinics be gauged from a patient’s point of view. She also cautioned against any decisions that would create more health care disparity in Memphis. Watts answered that patient access to care is a primary concern.

Any change would have to be approved by the board of trustees.

The possibility of divesting the clinics is one of several options the hospital is considering under a restructuring process being implemented by FTI Cambio, a consulting company that is managing The MED. The hospital is being run by FTI interim executives.

In other MED news, Stephanie Dowell has been hired to direct public affairs and government policies for the hospital. Watts told the board of trustees that Dowell will work closely with legislators and lobbyists in Jackson, Miss., Nashville and Little Rock to ensure The MED receives its share of state funding and is apprised of law changes that could affect its operations.

Dowell, who is from Memphis, has held previous executive positions in health care companies.

On a related matter, Gene Holcomb, the president of the board, said preparations should begin to hire people for five top positions at the hospital. Those posts are currently held by FTI Cambio, but the firm’s management contract ends in a year.

“We need to get rid of the training wheels in a year and ride the bike on our own,” Holcomb said.

Fred’s Expects Q1 Earnings Within Street View

Discount retailer and pharmacy chain Fred’s Inc. reported Thursday that it expects first-quarter earnings within the range of analysts’ estimates after posting a fourth-quarter profit on fewer charges.

The company, which is in the midst of a restructuring and recently named a new chief executive, anticipates net income of 19 cents to 21 cents per share.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, whose estimates generally exclude one-time items, predict a first-quarter profit of 20 cents per share.

Memphis-based Fred’s expects sales to drop 2 percent to 4 percent, which would imply revenue of $445.8 million to $455 million for the quarter. The company reported sales of $464.3 million in the prior-year period.

Analysts forecast revenue of $447.4 million.

The company expects a same-store sales increase of 1 percent to 3 percent.

Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, are a key indicator of retailer performance since they measure growth at existing stores rather than newly opened ones.

Also on Thursday, Fred’s reported a fourth-quarter profit of 6 cents per share. Adjusted earnings were 20 cents per share, which excluded some charges. Analysts predicted net income of 22 cents per share and typically exclude one-time items.

American Paper Optics Makes 16M 3-D Glasses for Time

American Paper Optics LLC has shipped 16 million 3-D glasses for five Time Inc. publications on newsstands this week.

The glasses will be distributed in People, Time, Fortune, Entertainment Weekly and Sports Illustrated to enhance the viewing of editorial photos as well as full page 3-D ads for such companies as McDonalds, DreamWorks Animation, Intel and Hewlett Packard.

The Bartlett-based American Paper Optics is a leading manufacturer and marketer of 3-D glasses and has delivered more than 200 million units in the first quarter of 2009, 130 million of which were produced for Super Bowl commercials.

Baptist Memorial Hospital Releases Benefit Report

Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp. provided more than $485 million in community benefit last year, including $474 million in uncompensated care to Mid-South patients, the hospital said in a report released this week.

Other benefits included health fairs, educational efforts and donations. This community benefit figure accounted for 36 percent of the hospital system’s operating expenses last year. The amount Baptist Memorial Health Care has spent on uncompensated care and total community benefit has increased by 46 percent over the past six years.

House Passes Bill to Allow Color School Bus Ads

The state House of Representatives has voted 81-16 to allow school districts to sell color advertising on school buses.

Under current law, school busses can carry only black and white advertising on their back panels.

Rep. Jimmy Eldridge, a Jackson Republican and the bill’s main House sponsor, said allowing those advertisements to be made in color could raise an estimated $150,000 for his home county.

The Senate previously passed the measure on a 30-0 vote, but would have to agree to a House change that prohibits advertising food items that aren’t allowed to be sold in schools before the bill could head for the governor’s consideration.

Rep. John Litz, a Morristown Democrat who voted against the bills, said he worries that color advertisements could lead to more accidents.

PROPERTY SALES 89 339 12,708
MORTGAGES 42 227 7,982
BUILDING PERMITS 171 518 29,639
BANKRUPTCIES 32 129 6,029