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VOL. 6 | NO. 31 | Saturday, July 27, 2013

Daily Digest

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Sweet Noshings Signs Lease in Overton Square

Another retailer has signed a lease at Overton Square.

Leena Asbridge, owner of candy store Sweet Noshings, signed a 1,750-square-foot lease at 2113 Madison Ave.

The sweet shop will offer a wide range of sugary options, including candy, cookies, cake, popcorn, chocolate and coffee. The lease marks the fourth signed by a retail tenant at Overton Square this summer.

Asbridge plans on preparing many of her items in-house, including granola, oatmeal, cookies and puddings. Bag-it-yourself candies will be available, along with a variety of flavored popcorns. Sweet Noshings will also have a full-service coffee bar supplied by Memphis-based Ugly Mug Coffee.

“Local talent and a unique retail concept make Sweet Noshings a big win for Overton Square,” said Aaron Petree, vice president of brokerage for Loeb Properties, in a statement. “There really isn’t anything like it in Memphis, which fits our vision for Overton Square perfectly.”

Orders for US Durable Goods Rise 4.2 Percent in June

Orders for long-lasting U.S. factory goods rose in June, bolstered by a surge in aircraft demand and more business spending. The increase suggests companies are more confident in the economy and could boost economic growth in the second half of the year.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that orders for durable goods increased 4.2 percent last month. That followed a 5.2 percent gain in May, which was revised higher.

Most of the gain occurred because aircraft orders, which are volatile month to month, jumped 31.4 percent. Boeing said it received orders for 287 planes in June, up from 232 in May. Excluding autos and airplanes, orders were unchanged.

Orders that signal planned business investment, which exclude volatile transportation and defense orders, increased in June for the fourth straight month. The 0.7 percent gain last month was buoyed by more machinery demand. And orders in May were much stronger than previously reported.

Even with the gain, business investment is not likely to help economic growth in the April-June quarter, economists said. That’s because the government measures shipments, rather than orders, when calculating business investments’ contribution to growth. Shipments fell in June. But the increase in orders this spring suggests shipments will rise in the July-September quarter and add to growth.

Durable goods are items meant to last at least three years. They include everything from computers to industrial machinery to refrigerators.

U.S. manufacturing output rose in June for the second straight month as factories cranked out more business equipment, autos and electronics, the Federal Reserve said last week.

And a survey by the Institute for Supply Management, a trade group, found that factory activity expanded in June after shrinking the previous month. New orders and export orders rose, a positive sign for future growth.

Bond Program to Aid Energy-Saving Projects

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is launching the next phase of the state’s Qualified Energy Conservation Bond Program for energy saving capital projects.

The bonds were created by Congress in 2008 and expanded the following year by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Tennessee’s total allocation for the program is approximately $64.7 million. More than $18.1 million has been, or is currently scheduled to be issued for qualifying projects by jurisdictions automatically eligible under the federal legislation.

The program will make the remaining $46.6 million available for qualifying projects. Entities eligible to participate in the program include all local government jurisdictions in Tennessee, along with public universities. Local governments can issue the bonds on behalf of a private project, with conditions.

Trustmark Reports Second-Quarter Earnings

Trustmark Corp. reported a second-quarter profit of $31.1 million, resulting in earnings per share of $0.46.

Nonperforming loans totaled $74.3 million and were down 10.8 percent from the prior quarter. Mortgage loan production during the second quarter was $424.3 million, up 8.2 percent from the prior quarter attributable in part to additional refinancing activity from the Home Affordable Refinance Program.

Trustmark president and CEO Gerard Host said the bank is well-positioned because of its dedicated associates, solid profitability and strong capital base.

US New-Home Sales Jump to Five-Year High

Americans snapped up new homes in June at the fastest pace in five years, a sign the housing recovery is strengthening.

Sales of newly built homes rose 8.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 497,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That’s the highest since May 2008 and up from an annual rate of 459,000 in May, which was revised lower.

While sales are still below the 700,000 pace consistent with healthy markets, they have risen 38 percent in the past 12 months. That’s the biggest annual gain since January 1992.

Home sales and prices have climbed since early last year, buoyed by solid hiring and low mortgage rates. Housing has helped drive economic growth this year at a time when other parts of the economy have languished, such as manufacturing and business investment.

New-home sales make up only a small part of the market. But they have an outsize impact on the economy. Each home built creates an average of three new jobs and generates about $90,000 in tax revenue, according to data from the National Association of Home Builders.

Rising demand and a tight supply of available homes for sale have pushed up prices. The median price of a new home in June was $249,700, up 7.4 percent from a year ago.

The number of new homes available for sale at the end of June was 161,000. That’s only slightly higher than May’s level and 11 percent above year-ago levels. At the current sales pace, it would take only 3.9 months to exhaust the supply of new homes on the market – matching a nine-year low. A supply of six months is typical in healthy markets.

School Board Vacancy to be Filled in August

Shelby County Commissioners plan to fill the vacancy on the countywide school board from the resignation of Reginald Porter at the Aug. 19 meeting.

Porter has resigned from the school board effective immediately to become chief of staff for the consolidated school system starting in August.

The commission Monday, July 22, approved a timetable that calls for interviewing applicants for the vacancy during Aug. 14 committee sessions.

Commissioner Henri Brooks is seeking a legal opinion on whether a county elected official can continue to hold their current office and fill the appointment on the school board.

Porter was elected to a four-year term in 2012 that ends in August 2015.

In other action, the commission approved two contracts totaling $3.1 million for gasoline and diesel fuel for county vehicles from Petroleum Traders Corp.

The body also approved a $2.2 million contract with Global TelLink for an inmate management system at the county jail as well as the county corrections center. The contract was one of four approved for such services across the local criminal justice system totaling $7.9 million.

Another $4 million contract was approved with Tyler Technologies for a case management system for the criminal court clerk and general sessions court clerk offices.

A $728,522 contract with New Dawn Technologies is for a case management system for the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office. A three-year $963,053 contract is for Software AG to buy, support and maintain Info Hub Architecture Software that is part of an integrated criminal justice information system.

Start Co. Launches Fundraising Drive

Start Co. is kicking off a $20,000 match challenge.

The organization formerly known as LaunchYourCity will see every dollar raised through the challenge matched by an anonymous donor. All proceeds will go toward Start Co.’s “Start Empowering” platform to help continue building “a diverse community of leaders.”

Also as part of the match challenge, Start Co. is hosting a Rooftop FUNdraiser Sept. 19. The event will include music, drinks and networking opportunities.

ServiceMaster Adds Runyan to Supply Management

The ServiceMaster Co. has created a position to oversee fleet and supply management of the Memphis-based operation and appointed Mary Kay Runyan to the senior vice president’s position. Runyan comes to the position from being vice president of strategic sourcing and fleet since 2012.

That job involves responsibility for one of the largest commercial fleets in the country with $1.5 billion worth of products and services bought annually by ServiceMaster for those fleets.

The position created by new ServiceMaster CEO Robert Gillette oversees supply management for the corporation as well as the business unit levels.

Butler Snow Expands Into Denver Market

Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens and Cannada PLLC, which has a Memphis office, announced the law firm has expanded into the Denver market.

The new office will specialize in new markets tax and public finance, adding to the firm’s growing public finance and incentives group, Butler Snow announced.

The law firm has nearly 250 attorneys in 14 offices worldwide.

Community Health Alliance Adds Tennessee Offices

Community Health Alliance announced it has opened two new offices in Nashville and Chattanooga.

A Memphis office is planned for later this year.

The Knoxville-based insurance carrier was created with a $73 million federal loan in August. The health insurance CO-OP model was created by the Affordable Care Act to provide competition to other health insurance carriers.

Unlike a traditional insurance carrier, policyholders elect the board of directors and insurance premiums are used to benefit members.

The new offices are part of CHA’s plan as it prepares to roll out health plans for Tennessee individuals and businesses on the Tennessee Health Insurance Marketplace, which opens Oct. 1. In May, the insurer received its Certificate of Authority from the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance and is now officially licensed as a health insurance company.

Chief Marketing Officer Leaves First Tennessee Bank

Dan Marks has left his job as chief marketing officer for First Tennessee Bank.

He’s starting a new position as the head of marketing for a division of Sears Holdings. In a note to The Daily News, he described the move as a “great opportunity” to do marketing on a national scale.

“(First Tennessee Bank) is a fantastic company, and I enjoyed my time there,” he wrote. “I will always have fond memories of (First Tennessee), the people, and what we were able to accomplish for our customers, employees, and shareholders. I continue to have many great friends at (First Tennessee) and am excited that the company will soon celebrate its 150th anniversary as a pillar of the community.”

Mississippi Casino Revenue Falls 7 Percent in June

Mississippi casino revenue resumed its year-over-year slide in June after showing positive results in May.

Mississippi Department of Revenue figures show statewide casino revenue fell nearly 7 percent from June 2012 to $174.5 million.

The state’s gambling halls eked out a 1 percent gain in 2012, because revenue rebounded after most Mississippi River casinos were affected by 2011’s floods. But year-over-year casino revenue has fallen in 11 of the last 12 months, with May being the exception.

The 18 river casinos from Tunica to Natchez won $89.3 million, down 8 percent from June 2012. The 12 coastal casinos won $85.2 million from gamblers, down 5.2 percent from January 2012.

The numbers exclude Choctaw Indian casinos, which aren’t required to report winnings to the state.

Parman Energy to Open First Memphis Location

Parman Energy said Friday, July 19, it will open its first Memphis location.

The Nashville-based energy company has been supplying the West Tennessee market with lubrication and fuel solutions for years but without a dedicated team headquartered locally.

“Our most recent expansion is centered on providing our Memphis-based customers with more effective and timely access to fuel, lubricant and DEF supplies and equipment,” Chris Bridgford, Parman Energy director of fuels, said in a statement.

Bridgeford said the Memphis-based service team will reduce customer turnaround time and give the company a bigger presence in West Tennessee.

Wealth Management Firm Kelman-Lazarov Adds Staff

Wealth management firm Kelman-Lazarov Inc. has some new faces.

Jacob Samuels joined the firm in April. He has been helping prepare client reviews, provide general research and support, and improve technology utilization.

Kelman-Lazarov also has a new intern for the summer. Monte Eiseman is a senior at the University of Miami with a major in finance who came home for the summer, and his responsibilities include helping with data entry, client management and running portfolio reports.

Tavenor Cooke is an intern who joined earlier this year and will continue into the fall. This summer, his main project has been updating the firm’s client databases.

Parking Meters Slated for Downtown in Fall

New parking meters in the Downtown and Medical Center districts should be up and running sometime in the fall, according to city engineer John Cameron.

The new meters will be able to take credit cards and coins with one payment kiosk for a line of on-street parking spaces once the Memphis City Council changes the city ordinance.

The current ordinance specifies coin-operated, single-space machines. The council should have approved the ordinance changing that by fall, with installation taking approximately two months by Cameron’s estimate.

By third and final reading in August, the draft ordinance will include the rates for parking and some new extended hours for paying to park on the street in metered spots.

Cameron told the council this week that the city also has a pending lease purchase agreement with Parkeon, the Moorestown, N.J.-based company that would lease the city the new technology.

Over the five year lease agreement that is still tentative and which the council must approve, the city would pay Parkeon $27,800 a month from the revenues the city expects to make from the new meters at the new rates that allow parking for more than an hour and extended hours.

The city would own the equipment at the end of the five-year period.

Survey: Local Homeowners Paid $100,000 for Houses

Homeowners in the Memphis area – including portions of Mississippi and Arkansas – paid a median of $100,000 for their homes, according to a 2011 American Housing Survey profile released this week. The median purchase price of homes constructed in the past four years was higher at $185,000. Nationally, homeowners paid $110,000 overall and $235,000 for new construction.

There was no statistically significant difference between the national and Memphis median purchase price of homes constructed in the last four years.

The statistics come from the American Housing Survey, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Outreach Blitz Now On for Arkansas Insurance Exchange

A $24 million marketing and outreach blitz underway in Arkansas will train hundreds of workers about how to sign up for the state’s insurance marketplace under the federal health care law and pay for ads at hundreds of gas pumps.

State insurance officials are trying to reach the roughly 500,000 people who are expected to sign up for insurance through the exchange, an online marketplace where the uninsured can purchase coverage, by the time open enrollment begins Oct. 1.

The biggest part of that effort will be the guides who will help the uninsured connect with the exchange. Arkansas has received more than $16.2 million from the federal government to contract with various organizations around the state that will employ the guides. In addition to the guides, Arkansas officials are using federal funds to blanket the state with advertisements about the new exchange.

PROPERTY SALES 23 23 1,365
MORTGAGES 21 21 1,068
BUILDING PERMITS 117 117 3,173