Arut Oriental Rugs Buys Union Ave. Retail Store

Gaithersburg, Md.-based Arut Oriental Rugs Inc. has bought a retail building at 1603-1613 Union Ave. from 2186 Central LLC for $1 million. The deal closed Aug. 10, and no financing documents were filed with the Shelby County Register of Deeds at the time the sale documents were filed.

The property is a 9,892-square-foot, single-occupancy retail building built in 1920. It sits on 0.4 acres on the southeast corner of Union Avenue and South Avalon Street in W.A. Bickford’s Union Terrace Subdivision.

Great Neck, N.Y.-based 2186 Central LLC bought the property in May 2007 for $550,000. The property formerly housed Allan Oriental Rugs, but was vacant and for lease when 2186 Central bought it.

The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2011 appraisal is $547,900.

The parties in January signed an option to purchase agreement.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Kate Simone

CDC to Consider Funding APG, Leadership Memphis

Items on tap at the Center City Development Corp. meeting Wednesday, Aug. 17, include the approval of a $3,437 façade improvement grant for APG Office Furnishings, which is planning to open a storefront Downtown at 123 S. Main St.

The anticipated opening is in October.

Also Wednesday, the board is scheduled to discuss approval of a $56,000 development loan to help fund costs associated with Leadership Memphis’ move to 363 and 365 S. Main St. Construction is scheduled to be completed by year-end.

The CCDC meets at 9 a.m. in the Downtown Memphis Commission office, 114 N. Main St.

– Andy Meek

Singer Named Director of Women’s Business Council

Mary Singer, president of Commercial Realty Group, has been appointed regional director/Memphis for the Women’s Business Enterprise Council South and will serve on the board of directors for WBEC South.

A University of Memphis graduate, Singer is a Certified Property Manager and Certified Commercial Investment Member. She is a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Real Estate Industry Council, the National Association of Women Business Owners, founder of CresaPartners in Tennessee, a founding member of CREW Memphis, a member of Girl Scouts Heart of the South Nominating Committee, and past member of the City of Memphis and Shelby County Industrial Development Board.

Women’s Business Enterprise Council South certifies women-owned business enterprises in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and the Florida panhandle. Third-party certification is required for businesses to qualify for large government and corporate contracts.

“Our mission is to advance and enhance business opportunities between women-owned businesses, corporations and some public sectors,” Singer said. “We also provide business-development training programs and networking opportunities for our members and alert them about new contract opportunities.”

WBEC South is one of 14 regional partner organizations of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, which is the premier third-party certification organization for WBEs. WBEC South has established a local presence at the Women’s Business Success Center, located at the Girl Scouts headquarters at 717 S. White Station Road.

WBEC South is co-hosting a women’s business seminar and luncheon along with the National Association of Women Business Owners Memphis and Commercial Real Estate Women Memphis on Sept. 13, at the Holiday Inn University of Memphis, 3700 Central Ave., from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

– Sarah Baker

Butler Snow Receives International Awards

Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada PLLC has received international awards and recognition from two publications.

Butler Snow was recognized as Law Firm of the Year in the categories of product liability and management labor and employment by Lawyers World Global Awards 2011.

The firm will be included in the Lawyers World Global Awards 2011 edition of Lawyers World magazine.

Butler Snow also won two Corporate INTL Magazine 2011 Global Awards for Mississippi Environmental Law Firm of the Year and Mississippi Corporate Law Firm of the Year. The firm will appear in the 2011 Global Awards Magazine produced by Corporate INTL.

– Taylor Shoptaw

Ed. Department Looks to Replace Testing Officials

The Tennessee Department of Education is launching a nationwide search to replace two testing officials.

Department spokeswoman Kelli Gauthier said Monday that the executive service appointments of Dan Long and Stan Curtis ended last week.

She said an interim director has been appointed “to ensure the ongoing success of the department’s work in data and assessments.”

Long headed the Assessment, Evaluation and Research Division, which administers the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, or TCAP, achievement tests, and Curtis served as assistant director.

The departures come less than a month after the state asked the federal government for a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law, saying its revamped education standards should be appropriate for measuring schools.

Recent results show only about half of Tennessee’s schools have met the federal law’s standards.

– The Associated Press

Credit Card Late Payments Hit 17-Year Low in Q2

Credit card users are so focused on keeping their accounts in good standing that they’ve driven the rate of late payments down to its lowest level in 17 years.

The national credit card delinquency rate, or rate of payments 90 days or more past due, fell to 0.60 percent in the second quarter, down from 0.92 percent a year ago. That’s the lowest rate since 1994, according to credit reporting agency TransUnion.

Delinquencies were expected to drop, but the improvement in that April to June period was faster than forecast.

And the improved payment habits came despite increased use of credit cards, based on quarterly data reported by banks that issue Visa and Mastercard-branded cards and data from American Express Co. and Discover Financial Corp.

TransUnion also saw higher card use, reflected in a slight uptick in the amount of debt card users carried during the quarter. The average combined total debt for all major credit cards increased by $20 from the first three months of the year, to $4,699 per borrower. Even so, that amount is down more than 5 percent from the $4,951 average in the second quarter of 2010, and is 16 percent lower than the peak average debt of $5,575 in the first quarter of 2009.

The overall improvements stem from a variety of factors, said Chet Wiermanski, global chief scientist for TransUnion’s financial services business.

“Not only do we have consumers that are using their debt more responsible and taking out less debt, they’ve also cut back on the number of the cards they carry,” he said.

Also contributing is the fact that banks have tightened their standards for approving card applications. After writing off record levels of uncollectible debt in recent years, most banks won’t issue cards to applicants with low credit scores. They have also cut back credit limits on existing cards, making it harder for individuals to run up huge balances.

And Wiermanski noted that debit card use continues to rise, which reflects more cautious spending by consumers.

– The Associated Press

UT Extension to Cut 44 Grant-Funded Jobs

The University of Tennessee Extension says 44 grant-funded jobs providing nutrition education for Tennesseans using food stamps will be eliminated due to a $2.9 million cut to funding.

The affected workers in the Tennessee Nutrition and Consumer Education Program were notified Monday that their positions would be eliminated on Sept. 30, the extension said in a news release.

This is the second round of jobs cuts this year at the extension service, which announced in January the loss of 60 positions due to state budget reductions.

The extension gets funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the nutrition education program through the Tennessee Department of Human Services.

– The Associated Press