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VOL. 6 | NO. 26 | Saturday, June 22, 2013

Daily Digest

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FedEx to Buy Supaswift Operations

FedEx Corp. said Thursday that it has agreed to buy businesses operated by its current service provider in five Southern African countries. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The deals cover Supaswift (Pty) Ltd.’s operations in South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia. FedEx said it’s also in talks to buy Supaswift’s businesses in Botswana and Namibia.

The acquired businesses will operate under the FedEx Express business unit, FedEx said.

The deal will give FedEx Express direct access across the seven markets to 39 facilities.

About 1,000 of Supaswift’s workers will join FedEx, the company said.

FedEx said the acquisition will give customers greater access to some of the world’s most rapidly growing economies and strengthen its FedEx Express operations.

Supaswift started operations in South Africa in 1990. In 2005, it combined with MyExpress Pty Ltd., which had been offering FedEx Express international services in Southern Africa since 1991.

The acquisition announcement comes a day after FedEx announced a better-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter profit, but issued disappointing guidance for the current year.

Tennessee Receives B for Manufacturing

Tennessee is a strong manufacturing state, but limited by the relatively low level of educational achievement, according to a new report from Ball State University.

The 2013 Manufacturing and Logistics Report Card, an in-depth analysis from Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER), grades all 50 states on factors that lead to success.

“The continuing story in the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky are the persistent low levels of educational attainment, which plague the expansion of highly productive firms,” said Michael Hicks, CBER director and an economics professor at Ball State.

Tennessee saw improvement in the tax climate and the expected liability gap – unfunded bond and pension liabilities to help pay for infrastructure and provide pensions and health care for workers, Hicks said. Those two improvements suggest Tennessee could see improved manufacturing prospects, but “quality limitations of the workforce” remains an issue.

Tennessee received B grades in manufacturing, expected liability gap, global reach and sector diversification; B+ in logistics and worker benefit costs; C in tax climate; C- in productivity and innovation; and D- in human capital.

New Sultana Marker Dedicated on Riverside

A new historical marker noting the 1865 explosion and sinking of the steamboat Sultana has been dedicated in Mississippi River Park Downtown.

The marker, dedicated earlier this month by the Shelby County Historical Commission replaces one stolen several years ago. Like the earlier one in what was then Jefferson Davis Park, the new marker was financed with private money raised by attorney, historian and author Jerry Potter. Andrew Carroll, a historian and author from Washington, joined Potter in the fundraising effort.

The nearby cobblestones on the city’s riverfront were the last port for the Sultana in April 1865 as it made its way from Vicksburg, Miss., severely overcrowded with Union soldiers just released from Confederate prison camps.

Just north of Memphis, one of the Sultana’s boilers that had been repaired in Vicksburg exploded and the wooden boat caught fire. More than 1,500 people died in a maritime disaster rivaling the death toll in the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.

The disaster filled Memphis hospitals with the wounded. But nationally, the end of the Civil War and the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln that same month obscured the event.

Potter’s 1992 book, “The Sultana Tragedy,” is a definitive account of the disaster and the investigations that followed.

The earlier marker disappeared after it was first removed from its post and fell to the river’s edge.

Bigfish Creative Agency Hosts Web-Focused Meet Up

Memphis-based creative agency Bigfish is holding a free meet up later this month to discuss the findings from a recent study it undertook of local medical websites, in which Bigfish found that most were not optimized for the new Web ecosystem of social interactions, personalization and mobility.

The meet up Wednesday, June 26, will offer solutions for how to fix those issues and ideas about how to achieve a social website. The one-hour gathering is open to the public but geared toward medical practices, hospitals, health groups and nonprofit organizations.

Among a variety of other services, Bigfish specializes in consulting on social media strategies for health care providers.

To register for the meet up, visit www.gobigfishgo.com/hcsm.

Jobless Aid Applications Rise to 354,000

Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits rose by 18,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 354,000. Despite the gain, the level remains consistent with moderate job growth.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average increased by 2,500 to 348,250.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. Since January, they have fallen 6 percent. That suggests companies are cutting fewer jobs.

At the same time, hiring has been steady, despite an increase in taxes on Jan. 1 and steep federal spending cuts that began in March. Solid consumer spending and a rebound in housing have helped the economy weather the fiscal drag.

Jennifer Lee, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, said the increase in applications makes it less likely that hiring will accelerate this month but job growth remains moderate.

Employers added 175,000 jobs in May, nearly matching the average monthly gain for the past year.

The unemployment rate ticked up to 7.6 percent from 7.5 percent, but for a good reason: More Americans were confident they could find work and began searching for a job.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday offered a brighter outlook for the job market and economy. Chairman Ben Bernanke said the Fed is likely to reduce its bond purchases later this year and end them in the middle of next year if the economy continues to strengthen.

The Fed expects the unemployment rate will fall to between 6.5 percent and 6.8 percent by the end of 2014. That’s lower than their March forecast of 6.7 percent to 7 percent.

About 4.5 million Americans received unemployment benefits in the week ending June 1, the latest data available. That’s 18,000 more than the previous week. But the number of recipients has fallen 28 percent in the past year. Some have likely gotten jobs, but many have used up all the benefits available.

The Labor Department said last week that more Americans quit their jobs in April compared with March. That points to confidence in the job market, since most workers don’t quit until they have another job or are sure they can find one. More quits also opens up jobs for other workers, or the unemployed, to take.

Indie Memphis Film Series Includes McCartney, Stones

The Indie Memphis Film Festival is bringing its free concert film series back to the Levitt Shell with six screenings starting next month.

The series’ third season, which will conclude with a 1994 Big Star concert, includes filmed performances by Queen, The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Mumford & Sons, among others.

The films will begin at dusk and admission is free. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.

“Hungarian Rhapsody: Queen Live in Budapest” will be shown July 18.

“The Doors Live at The Bowl ‘68” will be shown July 27.

“Big Easy Express” will be shown Aug. 3. (This film includes performances by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Old Crow Medicine Show and Mumford & Sons.)

“The Rolling Stones: Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus / The Rolling Stones: Some Girls, Live in Texas” will be shown Aug. 10.

“Rockshow” will be shown Aug. 17. (This film includes footage from the 1975-1976 Paul McCartney tour with his post-Beatles band Wings.)

“Big Star: Live in Memphis” will be shown Aug. 24.

Gillette Named New ServiceMaster CEO

Robert J. Gillette is the new CEO of The ServiceMaster Co.

Gillette takes the helm of the Memphis-based residential and commercial service provider immediately with his appointment Tuesday, June 18, by The ServiceMaster board.

Gillette succeeds interim CEO John Krenicki Jr., who became interim CEO in April following the resignation of Hank Mullany that month.

Krenicki continues to serve as chairman of ServiceMaster Global Holdings Inc., the parent company of ServiceMaster.

Gillette is the former CEO of First Solar Inc., a manufacturer of solar cells and power plants. He is also former president and CEO of the transportation systems and aerospace divisions of Honeywell International. Before Honeywell, he worked in various positions at GE for a decade including as manager of a plastics plant in Brazil.

ServiceMaster includes the brands Terminix, TruGreen, ServiceMaster Clean, Merry Maids, Furniture Medic, AmeriSpec and American Home Shield.

Council Begins Action on Budget Year Items

Memphis City Council members approved several budget items Tuesday, June 18, for the end of the current fiscal year before turning their attention to the budget for the coming fiscal year.

That includes a long promised Holmes-Tchulahoma Park in South Memphis. The council appropriated $1.5 million for the park’s construction in a contract with Wagner General Contractors Inc.

It also included $1 million for speed humps at various locations in the city in a contract with Cantrell Construction.

The council delayed to next month a vote on $115,000 in funding for a dog park at Greenbelt Park on Mud Island through the Riverfront Development Corp.

Lee Harris, the council member who is sponsoring that item and was absent Tuesday, had better luck with second reading of his ordinance that would exempt Memphis vehicle owners from having auto inspections. The measure passed with third reading at the first council meeting in June.

The council also approved a trio of ordinances on third and final reading that push the effective date for new seismic provisions in the code for residential and existing buildings to the end of 2013. Without the change the new code would have taken effect July 1.

The Shelby County Commission took the same action at its meeting Monday (see below).

Commission Pushes Back Seismic Standards Date

The Shelby County Commission approved Monday, June 17, a set of three ordinances on third and final reading Monday that push back the effective date for new seismic measures for new home construction and renovations of existing buildings until the end of 2013.

Developers and homebuilders called for the delay as they work to amend the code by the end of the year. They are concerned the new standards could drive up costs and dampen a recovering environment for home construction in particular.

Members of the West Tennessee Structural Engineers Association opposed a delay saying the county codes should reflect the city’s location near the New Madrid earthquake fault and the earthquake risk. They also questioned whether the new standards would drive up construction costs.

The commission also delayed action on the appointment of Julie Furr to the Memphis and Shelby County Building Code Board for three weeks. Furr, project manager at Chad Stewart and Associates Inc. of Millington, was among the structural engineers who spoke against a delay of the new seismic code at the June 3 commission meeting.

Meanwhile, the commission approved the appointment by Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell of Cassandra Bell Warren as the newest member of the Memphis and Shelby County Land Use Control Board.

Chamber Begins Campaign to Welcome Southwest

The Greater Memphis Chamber is launching a campaign, #MEMLUV: Rewards4Rewards, to welcome Southwest Airlines and to encourage Memphis residents to enroll in the airline’s Southwest Rapid Rewards program.

Like many air carriers, Southwest carefully measures local enrollment in its frequent flier program, Rapid Rewards, as a gauge of local demand. The company also measures customers who use its Rapid Rewards Premier Card from New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The Greater Memphis Chamber, along with the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Mid-South Air Service aims to sign up at least 50,000 new area Rapid Rewards members by Nov. 30.

Agriculture Innovation Accelerator to Launch

The Northwest Tennessee Entrepreneur Center and Memphis Bioworks Foundation are collaborating to launch an agriculture innovation accelerator this summer.

The goal of the program will be to help launch and grow new agricultural businesses.

It will be a cohort-based business accelerator that leverages the strength of the nine counties served by The Northwest Tennessee Entrepreneur Center that have significant assets related to agricultural crop production, livestock and logistics. For the new program, up to eight companies will be chosen to go through a six-month round of business instruction and mentorship, and at the end, they’ll pitch their business plans to a group of investors.

The program will support entrepreneurs commercializing a range of agriculture-related technologies, things like precision agriculture and software, grain handling and storage, food processing and more.

Archer-Malmo Wins National Silver ADDY

Memphis ad firm archer-malmo took home a Silver ADDY award at the 2013 National ADDY Awards Show hosted by the American Advertising Federation.

The firm’s Silver ADDY was for its Memphis Redbirds “Poop Car” submission, which featured a parked car Downtown covered in fake bird droppings. It was parked near AutoZone Park with a sign that read, “The Redbirds are in town.”

Dunavant Logistics Awarded for Marketing Campaign

Memphis-based Dunavant Logistics Group has been recognized with an award of merit from the Transportation Marketing and Sales Association.

Memphis firm doug carpenter & associates helped create the winning integrated marketing campaign, which introduced Dunavant’s newly consolidated brand to clients, partners and employees.

The campaign incorporated website development, online and print advertising, and a trade show presence.

Dunavant was recognized this week at the TMSA annual conference in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Start Co. Supporting Two Accelerator Programs

This summer, Memphis startup-focused nonprofit Start Co. is supporting women and minority entrepreneurship with two accelerator programs.

Later this month, the NewME Startup Accelerator three-day pop-up will be held at the FedEx Institute of Technology June 28-30.

NewME is a nationally recognized startup accelerator for minorities and women and is partnering with Google for Entrepreneurs and Start Co. on a nationwide tour (for more, see Page 12).

Starting next month, the new Upstart Accelerator will be held that represents the start of a 90-day mentor-driven accelerator for women-led tech startups. Now in its second year, four teams have been awarded $15,000 to get their tech startup-up running.

At the end of the three months the four teams will pitch their ideas to investors at a Demo Day showcase Oct. 17.

Federation of Independent Business Honors Norris

The National Federation of Independent Business has recognized Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, with its Guardian of Small Business award for his leadership on a variety of legislative reform efforts.

The award is Norris’ second Guardian award from the organization.

Jim Brown, the NFIB’ s Tennessee state director, noted Norris’ efforts on workers’ compensation reform, balancing the state budget and a variety of other issues as reasons for the award.

Trustee Now Collects Past-Due City Taxes

Owners of property in the city of Memphis who owe past-due property taxes can now make their payment to the Shelby County Trustee.

The trustee’ s office began collecting delinquent city of Memphis taxes effective May 15. Property owners with delinquent 2011 city of Memphis realty taxes should have begun receiving notices by certified mail starting in late May. A notice was also enclosed if property owners were delinquent on their 2011 Shelby County realty taxes.

The joint mailing saved taxpayers an estimated $200,000 in postage alone.

The trustee now manages delinquent tax collections for the county and all Shelby County municipalities.

Mobile Device Techs Celebrates Grand Opening

Mobile Device Techs LLC, a locally owned mobile device and computer repair shop, is celebrating its official grand opening for the entire month of June.

Mobile Device Techs was previously a division of Tate Computer Systems Inc. It’ s the brainchild of local business coach and entrepreneur Robert Staub, who has worked with Tate Copmuter Systems owner Sylvester Tate for more than two years as a consultant. Specials, giveaways and training are being offered throughout June to build awareness of the new brand and to keep the community informed of Mobile Device Techs services.

Orvis Opens Store Inside Laurelwood

Orvis has opened a retail store at 4556 Poplar Ave. inside Laurelwood Shopping Center. Orvis, founded in 1856, made its name by becoming a leader in the mail order and catalog business. In fact, Orvis is the oldest continuously operated catalog company in the nation.

The Manchester, Vt.-based company focuses on selling goods and clothing associated with country living and sporting.

MORTGAGES 80 320 1,066
BUILDING PERMITS 120 590 2,248