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VOL. 6 | NO. 52 | Saturday, December 21, 2013

Daily Digest

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New Bundt Cake Bakery Arrives in Memphis

A new bakery called Nothing Bundt Cakes – specializing in “modern Bundt cakes” – is holding grand opening festivities for its new location at 5679 Poplar Ave. the week of Jan. 13.

The eatery features Bundt cakes that range from single-serving “Bundtinis” to larger cakes that serve up to 26 people.

There’s a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Germantown Chamber of Commerce Jan. 15. On Jan. 17, 20 percent of sales will benefit the Memphis Child Advocacy Center, and guests that day also can enjoy cakes paired with wine.

On Jan. 18, the first 50 guests who make a purchase will win free “Bundtlets” for a year – one per month.

Nothing Bundt Cakes was founded in 1997 and is based in Las Vegas.

ServiceMaster Names New VP of Human Resources

ServiceMaster CEO Robert Gillette has named Susan Hunsberger as the Memphis-based company’s new senior vice president of human resources.

Hunsberger comes to ServiceMaster from being head of human resources for the global business solutions group of Nielsen, the Connecticut-based information and data company best known for its television ratings.

Hunsberger is the latest appointment Gillette has made in the top ranks of ServiceMaster since becoming CEO of the provider of residential and commercial services in June.

AutoZone Board Authorizes Additional Share Buybacks

The board of directors of AutoZone Inc. has authorized the repurchase of an additional $750 million worth of the company’s common stock, part of AutoZone’s ongoing share buyback program.

Since that program began in 1998 and including the new authorization, AutoZone’s board has authorized the car parts retailer to buy back $14.2 billion worth of the company’s stock.

AutoZone Chief Financial Officer Bill Giles said the company’s strong financial performance is what is allowing the company to buy back stock while maintaining its investment-grade credit ratings.

Alexander, Corker Vote Against Budget Deal

U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker of Tennessee voted against the Ryan-Murray budget agreement that passed the Senate Wednesday, Dec. 18, and was on its way to President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature.

Alexander said he voted against the measure because it “avoids the federal government’s most urgent need, reducing the growth of runaway entitlement spending.”

“Instead, it spends savings that should be used to strengthen Medicare, pensions and the air transportation system,” he added in a written statement.

Corker had similar concerns that motivated his vote against the agreement. But he also said Republican actions in the House that led to the government shutdown earlier this year led to the compromise.

“It’s disappointing the misguided strategy of the House this fall weakened our hand on fiscal issues and that House appropriators indicated they were unwilling to live within the budget discipline laid out in the sequester,” Corker said in a written statement.

Corker and Alexander have proposed a “fiscal sustainability act” that features $1 trillion in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security entitlement savings and cuts.

Bubble Bistro Expands Into Louisiana

The Bubble Bistro has opened a new store in Baton Rouge, La.

The Memphis-based business sells all-natural skincare and bath and beauty products.

Founded in 2009 by Andrea Johnson, Bubble Bistro features products that are prepared from scratch daily using ingredients shipped from across the globe.

Bubble Bistro offers face and body soaps, perfume oils and sprays, bath salts, body scrubs and exfoliating products, body and hair moisturizers, mineral-based makeup and candles.

Johnson’s first Bubble Bistro was launched in the Virgin Islands in 2009. In 2010, Johnson relocated to her hometown of Memphis and opened a 1,700-square-foot store at 425 N. Watkins St. in the Crosstown community. Johnson also operates an online store, bubblebistro.com.

Haslam Appoints Kirby to Tenn. Supreme Court

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has appointed Holly M. Kirby of Memphis to the Tennessee Supreme Court. Kirby will succeed Janice M. Holder, who announced her retirement from the bench on June 28, upon expiration of her term.

Kirby, a lifelong Tennessean, has served as a member of the Tennessee Court of Appeals, Western Section, since 1995. She was the first woman to serve on that court and has authored more than 1,000 opinions on appeals from trial courts across the state.

“We are fortunate to have someone with Judge Kirby’s depth of experience to serve on the Tennessee Supreme Court,” Haslam said. “Her impressive record of service will benefit Tennesseans in this position, and I am pleased to announce her appointment.”

Kirby’s opinions have covered a range of civil law, including business and commercial litigation, employment law, tort law and family law. Prior to her appointment to the Tennessee Court of Appeals by Gov. Don Sundquist, Kirby was a partner at the Memphis law firm Burch, Porter & Johnson.

“I thank Governor Haslam for this great privilege,” Kirby said. “It is a high honor and an awesome responsibility to serve on the Tennessee Supreme Court. I will do my utmost every day to earn the confidence the Governor has placed in me and to serve the citizens of our great state.”

Kirby has served on the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct since 2012. She served on the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary from 1998 to 2012 and has served on the Tennessee Judicial Conference since 1995. She also served on the Council of State Governments interbranch committee in 2013, the Tennessee Appellate Court Nomination Commission from 1989 to 1994, and as a court-appointed special advocate from 1992 to 1994.

Thomas Appointed Lakeland City Manager

Shelby County Commissioner Chris Thomas is the new city manager for Lakeland.

Thomas was the choice of new Lakeland Mayor Wyatt Bunker, and his choice was confirmed Tuesday, Dec. 17, by the town’s board of commissioners with a unanimous vote.

Thomas will serve the remaining nine months left on his term of office on the county commission but will not seek re-election in 2014.

Bunker’s resignation from the commission following his November election to the mayor’s office is effective Jan. 3.

The commission’s last meeting of the year – and Bunker’s last as a commissioner – was Monday, Dec. 16.

Thomas’ decision not to seek re-election means the 13-member county commission that takes office Sept. 1, 2014, will have at least seven new members.

Six other commissioners are term-limited.

St. Jude Launches 2014 Dream Home Campaign

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has launched its 2014 Dream Home Giveaway contest.

St. Jude officials on Wednesday, Dec. 18, broke ground on the new home inside the Canterbury Manor development in Eads. Renaissance Development Co. is the developer of Canterbury Manor and Southern Serenity Homes is building the home, which will be given away June 22.

The St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway is a 23-year tradition that has become one of the research hospital’s largest single-event fundraisers. Nationally, more than 300 homes have been given away and the program has raised more than $240 million for St. Jude.

This is the 15th anniversary of the program launch in Memphis. Around $1.2 million was raised in last year’s Memphis campaign.

Collierville Mercedes-Benz Dealership Hosts Giveaway

Mercedes-Benz of Collierville has announced a giveaway to celebrate the grand opening of the dealership, which is scheduled for March.

For the contest, participants will be entered to win a 24-month lease on a 2014 Mercedes-Benz C250 Sport Sedan, which will be given away in December 2014. The first round of entries for the year-long campaign is under way now, with entries being accepted via Facebook and Twitter until Jan. 31.

Participants should tweet @MBCollierville or post to the dealership’s Facebook page at facebook.com/mbcollierville with thoughts on what they’re thankful for this holiday season. There will be other opportunities to enter the giveaway through 2014, and the winner will be chosen in December 2014.

Fed Foresees Slightly Lower Unemployment in 2014

The Federal Reserve expects unemployment to fall a bit further over the next two years than it thought in September and expects inflation to remain below the Fed’s target level.

The Fed predicts the unemployment rate will dip as low as 6.3 percent next year and 5.8 percent in 2015. Both are one-tenth of a percentage point lower than it forecast in September. Unemployment has fallen faster this year than policymakers had predicted. It’s now 7 percent.

The Fed estimates that economic growth will be between 2.8 percent and 3.2 percent next year, roughly what it predicted in September. Growth for 2013 will likely be about 2 percent.

Fed policymakers have said they’ll keep the short-term rate they control near zero at least until unemployment falls below 6.5 percent.

New Hotel Planned for Downtown

Memphis could be getting a new hotel at a prime Downtown location.

Turkey Creek Hospitality has signed a licensing agreement with Hilton Worldwide to develop a 140-room Hilton Garden Inn at 235 Union Ave., the site of a former structured parking facility at the corner of Union and Fourth Street. Knoxville-based Turkey Creek Hospitality would own and operate the new hotel.

According to Shelby County property records, Nitinkumar Patel purchased the property in September for $1.4 million. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2013 appraisal of the site is $747,200.

A new hotel would be welcome news to the local convention industry, which has struggled with an outdated Memphis Cook Convention Center and a shortage of hotels concentrated in the Downtown Core.

However, two planned Downtown hotels announced in recent years – both Hilton brands – were never built. Hilton announced agreements to build a 118-room Hilton Garden Inn at Second Street and Linden Avenue, and a 300-room Hilton at Fourth and Linden, but neither project materialized.

Aitken Officially Hired to Lead Collierville Schools

There were only a few contract details remaining last week between former Shelby County Schools superintendent John Aitken and the job of superintendent of the Collierville Schools system.

Those were worked out Monday, Dec. 16, and Aitken was hired by the Collierville Schools board, becoming the first leader of one of the six suburban school systems.

Aitken will be paid $185,000 a year in base pay, with the possibility of an annual bonus of $15,000.

The Bartlett Schools board met Monday evening to begin interviewing finalists for the Bartlett superintendent position.

The three finalists being considered by the Bartlett board are: David Stephens, deputy superintendent of Shelby County Schools; David Hill, director of academic operations for Memphis Catholic Schools; and M. Wayne Honeycutt, former director of the Loudon County, Tenn., school system.

The Germantown Schools board, meanwhile, approved the settlement with Shelby County Schools by a 3-2 vote. The board’s debate and vote came hours after the Shelby County Commission approved the deal, which is the last of the settlements between the commission, SCS and leaders of the Shelby County’s six suburbs.

In the agreement, Germantown Elementary, Middle and High Schools remain in the Shelby County Schools system. The other five schools within Germantown’s city limits become part of its new municipal school system.

Commission Accepts Grant to Replace Ward Bridge

Shelby County Commissioners set the stage Monday, Dec. 16, for a new Ward Road Bridge in north Shelby County.

The commission accepted a $982,485 state transportation grant for construction and engineering of the replacement of the bridge over Big Creek. The acceptance includes a $1.3 million subcontract with Dement Construction Co. LLC. In addition to the state grant, funding for the project includes $407,160 in state gas tax funds.

Commissioners sent back to committee a proposal from Memphis City Council member Lee Harris that targets “tax dead” properties for tax breaks and redevelopment incentives. Commissioner Mike Ritz proposed several amendments after he said the original provisions might have been open to some abuse by developers or might have encouraged property owners to not pay property taxes.

If approved by the commission and the council, the proposal’s next stop would be the Tennessee Attorney General’s office for a legal opinion. If the opinion upholds the legality of the program, it would then go back to the council and commission for approval in its final form.

With no debate, the commission rejected a joint resolution from the City Council that called for the formation of a joint city-county committee to study an expansion of the Memphis Cook Convention Center.

And commissioners approved $516,455 worth of replacement vehicles for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department from three dealers: Dobbs Ford, Serra Chevrolet and Sam Swope Automotive. Of the total, $381,551 comes from the department’s drug funds, and the remaining $134,904 is from the department’s general fund budget.

First Tennessee to Open Charleston Office

First Tennessee Bank is preparing to open a new office outside Tennessee – its first in Charleston, S.C.

The new office will provide private client banking, wealth management, commercial financial services and commercial real estate finance services to the Charleston market. First Tennessee’s presence there joins existing Mid-Atlantic offices in Winston-Salem, Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C., and in Richmond, Va.

Rotcher Watkins, Charlotte-based market executive and senior vice president, will lead the Charleston office. The team of bankers there includes Andy Thomas, senior vice president and commercial banking relationship manager; Allston Moore; senior vice president and private client team leader; and Shelly Clark, private client relationship manager.

Wright Medical Division Sale Gets Green Light

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange has given Shanghai-based MicroPort Scientific Corp. the green light to move ahead with its $290 million acquisition of Wright Medical Group Inc.’s knee and hip division.

MicroPort has scheduled a Jan. 3 shareholder meeting to vote on the transaction. Wright now expects the transaction to close around Jan. 9.

Wright Medical won approval earlier this year to relocate its corporate headquarters from Arlington to Memphis. The company, which has around 1,500 employees, will maintain and expand its manufacturing facilities in Arlington.

Wright announced in October it had reached a $75 million agreement to buy the French company Biotech International, a privately held manufacturer of surgical implants and advanced fixation technologies that deal with fractures.

US Worker Output Rises at Best Pace in 4 Years

U.S. workers boosted their productivity from July through September at the fastest pace since the end of 2009, adding to signs of stronger economic growth.

The Labor Department said Monday that productivity increased at a 3 percent annual rate in the third quarter. That’s up from an initial estimate of 1.9 percent and much stronger than the 1.8 percent rate from April through June.

Productivity rose because economic growth was much stronger than previously estimated in the third quarter. Productivity is the amount of output per hour of work.

Labor costs fell in the third quarter, evidence that inflation will remain low.

Higher productivity enables companies to pay employees more without sparking inflation. But greater productivity can also slow hiring if it shows companies don’t need more workers to boost output.

However, productivity growth has been mostly flat over the past year. That’s because the gains from the past six months have been offset by declines in previous six months.

Worker productivity is improving along with economic growth. Hiring has accelerated since the summer and wages are gradually rising. The economy grew a 3.6 percent annual rate in the third quarter, much faster than the 2.8 percent rate previously estimated.

But productivity gains have slowed in the past three years after jumping in the aftermath of the recession.

Zipcar Adds Service to Memphis Airport

Zipcar, the car share division of Avis Rent a Car, has expanded to Memphis International Airport.

The two cars at the airport join a fleet that also includes four in Downtown Memphis and one at Rhodes College.

The recent expansion comes after a trial period at two Downtown locations this year to test whether there is a market for car sharing in Memphis. Zipcar’s business model includes a separate focus on college campuses.

The newest Zipcars are on the airport property and are aimed specifically at air travelers with time between connecting flights or a meeting between flights.

The digital reservations of the cars include gas, insurance and 180 miles of travel.

MAA Chairman Joins Board of Miss. Real Estate Trust

Eric Bolton, chairman and CEO of Memphis-based MAA, has been elected to the board of directors for a Mississippi-based real estate investment trust focused on industrial properties.

Bolton will join the board of EastGroup Properties Inc., which focuses on the development, acquisition and operation of industrial real estate across the Sunbelt, with an emphasis on properties in Florida, Texas, Arizona, California and North Carolina.

EastGroup’s portfolio, including projects under construction, includes 33.7 million square feet of industrial properties. According to EastGroup’s website, the company owns one Memphis property, a 92,000-square-foot building at 3906 Air Park Drive. MAA is one of the nation’s largest student housing real estate investment trusts.

Archer-Malmo Announces Hires and Promotions

Memphis-based marketing communications agency archer-malmo has made several hires and promotions across its account service, digital, public relations and media teams.

Beverly Mattingly has been promoted to senior vice president, group account director. She’s joining the management team and will report directly to archer-malmo CEO Russ Williams.

In her new role, Mattingly will oversee the account service team for Zoetis.

Meanwhile, archer-malmo also has promoted several staffers. Courtnay Hamacheck has been promoted to account supervisor from senior account executive for the company’s retail group, TMB. Liz Hamilton from the PR department, and Rebecca Harris and Madesyn Don from account services, were promoted to account manager from account coordinator.

During the fourth quarter, archer-malmo also has added three professionals in the account services, digital and media teams.

Brent Booth has joined the digital team as a senior information architect. Ai Doan joined the agency as an assistant planner/buyer on the media team. And Wes Melton has been hired as an account coordinator for account services.

Foreign Holdings of Treasury Debt Rise in October

Foreigner buyers of U.S. Treasury securities increased their holdings for a third month in October, despite budget battles in Washington that shut down the government for 16 days that month.

The Treasury Department says total foreign holdings edged up 0.01 percent in October to $5.65 trillion after a 1 percent gain in September. Holdings had fallen from April through July, likely reflecting concerns about rising interest rates. In October, holdings were 1.2 percent below the record high of $5.72 trillion reached in March.

China, the largest foreign buyer of Treasury debt, boosted its holdings 0.8 percent in October to $1.3 trillion. Japan, the second-largest buyer, trimmed its holdings 0.3 percent to $1.17 trillion.

An impasse over the budget led to a 16-day partial government shutdown in October.

US Factory Output Rises 0.6 Percent in November

U.S. factories increased output in November for the fourth straight month, led by a surge in auto production. The gains show manufacturing is strengthening and could help boost economic growth at the end of the year.

Factory production rose 0.6 percent in November after a 0.5 percent gain in October, the Federal Reserve said Monday.

Production of motor vehicles and parts increased 3.4 percent, rebounding from a 1.3 percent decline in October. Factories also stepped up production of home electronics and chemical products.

Industrial production, which includes manufacturing, mining and utilities, rose 1.1 percent in November. It was the fourth straight gain.

Colder-than-average temperatures drove a 3.9 percent surge in utility production. Mining output jumped 1.7 percent to reverse a similar decline in October.

Overall production for the first time surpassed the pre-recession peak set in December 2007, the month the Great Recession began. Output is now 21 percent above its recession low hit in June 2009, the month the downturn ended.

Aluma-Form to Open Miss. Manufacturing Facility

Memphis-based Aluma-Form Inc. will open a manufacturing facility in Walnut, Miss.

The planned 70,000- to 80,000-square-foot facility on a 17-acre site is expected to employ around 125 people.

Aluma-Form, whose headquarters are at 3625 Old Getwell Rd., is a manufacturer of overhead power distribution products for the electrical industry.

The company expanded its Memphis facility in 2010. Earlier this year, it took out a $1.8 million loan through Trustmark Inc. on that property.

Aluma-Form, which was founded in 1961 and previously manufactured all its products at its Memphis location, sells its line of products throughout the U.S. and Canada. The company will continue to build its core product line in Memphis, while the Walnut facility, which is projected to open in late 2014, will manufacture its new products. Aluma-Form expects to invest $6.7 million in the new facility.

Leatherwood Pulls Re-Election Petition

Shelby County Register Tom Leatherwood is the latest incumbent to pull a qualifying petition to run for re-election in the 2014 county elections.

Leatherwood pulled a petition to run in the May Republican primary.

He has several potential Democratic challengers, including Coleman Thompson, who was the Democratic nominee in 2010. Other Democratic contenders with petitions out in the race are Stephen R. Christian and Terrance Monger.

RedRover Adds Trio of Employees

RedRover Sales & Marketing has added three new employees to the roster.

They are creative director Carl Cottam, corporate trainer Lori Guy and marketing account executive Jennifer Seidman.

Cottam comes to RedRover from Medtronic. Guy is a veteran of First Horizon National Corp., and Seidman was previously at GTx Inc.

The hires come at a time RedRover has just finished settling into its new space at 22 N. Front St. after a move from South Main. RedRover founder and CEO Lori Turner-Wilson said this summer that the new space will allow the firm plenty of room to grow over the next few years.

4 Tennessee Sites Selected for Company Investment

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development has announced four new locations ready for company investment.

The Select Tennessee Certified Sites program was launched last year with the goal of helping Tennessee communities prepare available sites for investment and expansion. The program sets a rigorous standard upon which companies can rely in making location decisions. There are 26 greenfield sites available in 19 counties across the state.

Qualifications include having at least 20 developable acres, proper zoning in place to allow for ease of development and truck-quality road access.

The four new sites are American Way in Lauderdale County, City of Milan Industrial Park in Gibson County, Clinton/I-75 Industrial Park in Anderson County and Rialto Industrial in Tipton County.

Simon Property Plans Strip Mall Business Spinoff

Mall operator Simon Property Group Inc. plans to spin off to its shareholders a business that operates strip malls and smaller enclosed malls so it can focus on bigger malls and premium outlets.

Indianapolis-based Simon said the new, publicly traded real estate investment trust is expected to own or have an interest in 54 strip malls and 44 smaller enclosed malls. Its portfolio will total 53 million square feet in 23 states.

It estimates the new company will generate about $300 million in funds from operation, or FFO. FFO is the preferred profit measure of real estate investment trusts like Simon Property. It adds back charges that measure the costs and declining values of equipment and property back to net income.

Simon President and Chief Operating Officer Richard Sokolov will become chairman of the new company, and Simon Chairman and CEO David Simon will serve on its board of directors. Simon Property shareholders and limited partners get stakes in the new company.

Simon currently owns or has an interest in more than 325 retail real estate properties in North America and Asia.

PROPERTY SALES 36 154 6,546
MORTGAGES 34 94 4,129
BUILDING PERMITS 201 554 15,915
BANKRUPTCIES 43 126 3,396