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VOL. 6 | NO. 13 | Saturday, March 23, 2013

Daily Digest

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TJX Approved for Five-Year Incentive

The Memphis-Shelby County Economic Development Growth Engine board has approved a five-year tax freeze for TJX Cos. Inc., which is opening a new distribution center in Memphis.

The company’s tax incentive will be used to help it complete the project, which will include creating 40 jobs here and investing almost $7 million. The retail and home furnishings company owns and/or operates under brand names such as T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods, and it recently signed a lease for 414,076 square feet at Chickasaw Distribution Center Building D, 6100 E. Holmes Road, suite 101.

The company’s goal is to boost its local employment eventually to 117 full-time positions.

Hunter Fan Company Names New CEO

John Alexander is the new CEO of Hunter Fan Co.

Alexander replaces Chuck Smith, who is transitioning to a senior advisory role for the company’s board. Smith worked with Hunter for 14 years, including six as CEO.

Alexander spent most of his career at Whirlpool Corp. As vice president and general manager of Whirlpool’s $3 billion Whirlpool brand, Alexander helped grow market share by creating customer loyalty programs, introducing new products, and working closely with key customers. As vice president of new business development and innovation, he led new high-growth businesses such as Gladiator, Commercial Laundry and Whirlpool’s licensing business.

Most recently, Alexander was president of the Americas for Diversey Inc., a $3 billion leading global provider of cleaning and hygiene products.

During his three years at Diversey, Alexander helped introduce new products, expand international distribution, and led his organization to sustained annual profitable growth.

Exeter Assigns Portfolio to Commercial Advisors

Pennsylvania-based Exeter Property Group has awarded the facilities management assignment of its newly acquired, 2.5 million-square-foot industrial portfolio to Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors Asset Services LLC. The four buildings were acquired from DCT Industrial.

Mark Jenkins, principal of Commercial Advisors Asset Services, said in a release that it’s an assignment his firm had previously with an institutional owner. Memphis-based Commercial Advisors manages and/or leases a portfolio of 24 million square feet in the Mid-South region. Commercial Advisors already works with Exeter as leasing agents on several of Exeter’s other buildings.

The four Class A buildings in the Southeast submarket include Memphis Trade Center III – a 74.1 percent leased, 1 million-square-foot building at 3955 E. Holmes Road completed in 2001. Commercial Advisors also has the leasing assignment for the 269,000-square-foot availability in the multi-tenant building.

The other three buildings are all fully leased to single tenants. Completed in 2003, the 806,000-square-foot Memphis Oaks Phase II at 5140 Memphis Oaks Drive is fully occupied by Technicolor Inc. The 400,000-square-foot Southpoint building, at 5155 Citation Drive, was completed in 2000 and is home to AT&T Cingular. And Ozburn Hessey Logistics occupies Distriplex Farms, a 300,000-square-foot building at 6225 Global Drive built in 2000.

Council OKs Demonstration Conditions, Car Sharing

The Memphis City Council approved Tuesday, March 19, on third and final reading an ordinance that gives the police director the discretion to set conditions on parades, marches and demonstrations.

The conditions include requiring any group from outside Shelby County seeking a march permit to put up a surety bond or deposit that is half of the cost of providing police protection. It also bans those in the gathering from carrying guns under Tennessee law or wearing masks or other disguises.

The council began its consideration of the ordinance last month as a Ku Klux Klan organization announced its intention to demonstrate March 30 on the steps of the Shelby County Courthouse. The organization later filed for a permit with the city and the permit was granted.

The ordinance’s provisions for a surety bond or deposit for police services will not apply to the Klan march, Collins said, on the advice of city attorneys.

The council also approved a resolution designating four on-street parking spaces for car-sharing vehicles as part of a three-year pilot project run by the Downtown Memphis Commission.

The commission is working to find a company that will operate under contract to run the business in which customers could rent the cars on a short-term basis.

The parking spots will be free of charge to that company during the pilot period.

Two of the parking places are on the north side of Gayoso Avenue in the block between South Main Street and Nov. 6 Street. The other two are on the east side of South Main between Huling and Talbot streets.

Shelby County’s Setterlund Finalist for Oak Ridge Schools

The leader of the steering committee of school administrators making schools merger recommendations to the countywide school board may be leaving.

Tim Setterlund, Shelby County Schools assistant superintendent, is one of seven finalists to become superintendent of the Oak Ridge, Tenn., school system.

The Oak Ridge Schools board hopes to make its selection at the end of March or sometime in April.

The national search in Oak Ridge began in July.

Setterlund, the former principal of Collierville High School, became superintendent John Aitken’s assistant superintendent of research, planning and transition in December 2011.

Aitken resigned this week as superintendent in a contract buyout approved unanimously by the countywide school board.

Setterlund’s departure would be a second blow to the merger efforts, which are reaching a critical stage less than five months before the first day of classes for the consolidated school system.

Setterlund has been leading the team of administrators who review merger recommendations from the consolidation planning commission and then present the steering committees recommendations to the board for their action.

Duncan-Williams Gets New Chief Compliance Officer

Duncan-Williams Inc. has tapped Jim Cherry, a 15-year veteran of the financial services industry, to be the firm’s new chief compliance officer.

As such, he’ll be responsible for reviewing, analyzing and evaluating risk assessment across all business units. He also will oversee the compliance program for the firm’s broker-dealer and registered investment adviser and serve as the firm’s regulatory liaison.

Cherry joined the firm’s compliance department in 2009 as director of fixed-income compliance and later served as director of private client group compliance.

Imagine Vegan Café Finds New Home

Imagine Vegan Café has found a new home about three blocks east of its current location in Midtown’s Cooper-Young neighborhood.

The family-friendly, 100-percent vegan café’s last day at its current 2156 Young Ave. location will be Friday, March 29. Imagine hopes to re-open its new location at 2299 Young Ave. at the corner of East Parkway and Young by Friday, April 5, if inspections go as planned.

“We kind of wanted this place to be like you’re walking into our house for dinner,” Kristie Jeffrey said. “We’re moving into a house, it’s just fantastic. It really is going to be like our second home.”

Chef Kristie Jeffrey and her husband, Adam Jeffrey, opened Imagine in April 2011 in the old Casablanca space. The new location is a bungalow house built in 1912 that formerly housed Fork It Over Catering space.

Kristie Jeffrey said Imagine’s landlord at 2156 Young, listed as Brown Family Revocable Trust and Larry McCulley with the Shelby County Assessor of Property, wanted to either raise Imagine’s lease by 10 percent or terminate its lease.

Jimmy Lewis with Rasberry CRE handled the deal for landlords Jay and Michelle Campbell.

Mayors Press for Federal Focus on Mississippi River

Mayors from Mississippi River communities are joining with members of Congress to draw attention to the waterway and the needs of communities dotting its banks.

About a dozen mayors from communities big and small were in Washington on Thursday to announce formation of the Mississippi River Platform. The goal is to raise awareness of issues such as water quality, community development and drought and flood preparation.

The mayors, members of the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative, will work with the newly formed Mississippi River Caucus. That's a bi-partisan group of members of Congress.

The river attracted a lot of attention over the winter when drought caused it to dip near record low levels between St. Louis and Cairo, Ill. Barges were forced to reduce loads and traffic was nearly halted.

Measure of US Economy’s Health Rises in February

A measure of the U.S. economy's health over the next six months increased in February from January, a sign that growth could be improving.

The Conference Board said Thursday that its index of leading indicators rose 0.5 percent in February to 94.8. That followed an equal gain in January, which was revised higher. The gauge is designed to anticipate economic conditions three to six months out.

The increase was also more broad-based, with eight of its 10 components rising. That compared with only five in January and six in December.

A gain in housing permits, a longer manufacturing workweek and rising stock prices were among the elements that drove the index higher. Lower orders for large manufactured goods and lower consumer outlook for business conditions limited the gain.

The economy "may be developing some resilience against headwinds from ... federal spending cuts," Ataman Ozyildrim, an economist at the Conference Board, said.

A steady recovery in housing and rising job gains could be offsetting the cuts, he added. Automatic government spending cuts of $85 billion kicked in March 1, though their impact may not be felt until April and May when layoffs at government agencies and contractors will likely start.

The index is derived from data that for the most part have already been reported individually.

Big River Steel CEO Hopes for Fall Groundbreaking

The developer behind a planned $1.1 billion steel mill in Northeast Arkansas says he hopes to break ground on the project this fall if everything goes as planned.

The Legislature still needs to approve $125 million in state financing for the proposed Big River Steel mill to be built near Osceola.

Developer John Correnti spoke Tuesday with Mississippi County officials regarding the project.

According to the Courier News, Correnti says he hopes to have a construction and operating permit by the end of April.

Officials say the mill will create more than 2,000 temporary construction jobs and more than 500 jobs once it’s up and running.

The Legislature is expected to discuss the financing next week.

Freddie Mac Accuses Banks of Rigging Rates

Freddie Mac has sued 15 big international banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup, accusing them of rigging a key interest rate and causing huge losses for the government-controlled mortgage giant.

Freddie filed the lawsuit in federal court in Alexandria, Va. It names the banks that set the London interbank offered rate, known as LIBOR, which provides the basis for trillions of dollars in contracts around the world, including mortgages, bonds and consumer loans.

In a growing scandal, two big British banks and Switzerland’s largest have been fined hundreds of millions of dollars for manipulating LIBOR by U.S. and British regulators.

A U.S. watchdog has found that Freddie and its larger sibling Fannie Mae together may have lost more than $3 billion on their investments from banks’ rate-rigging.

United Housing Launches Home Matters Movement

United Housing has helped launch a new national movement called Home Matters, aiming to build public support for the role that a home plays in thriving lives, families and a stronger economy.

Home Matters is spearheaded by National NeighborWorks Association – of which Memphis-based United Housing is a member – along with a coalition of housing and community development organizations and nonprofits.

As it expands, Home Matters will go beyond housing and illuminate the connections between stable housing and other important facets of American life, such as individual success, education, health and public safety. The Home Matters website is www.HomeMattersAmerica.com.

Now in its 18th year, United Housing offers homebuyer education, credit counseling and affordable lending practices to low to moderate first-time homebuyers. The nonprofit earlier this year moved from its long-time Midtown offices to 2750 Colony Park Drive, near the old Mall of Memphis site in the Oakhaven/Parkway Village area.

US Housing Starts Rise, Permits at 4.5-Year High

U.S. builders started more homes in February and permits for future construction rose at the fastest pace in 4.5 years. The increases point to a housing recovery that is gaining strength.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that builders broke ground on houses and apartments last month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 917,000. That’s up from 910,000 in January. And it’s the second-fastest pace since June 2008, behind December’s rate of 982,000.

Single-family home construction increased to an annual rate of 618,000, the most in 4 1/2 years. Apartment construction also ticked up, to 285,000.

The gains are likely to grow even faster in the coming months. Building permits, a sign of future construction, increased 4.6 percent to 946,000. That was also the most since June 2008, just a few months into the Great Recession.

Separately, a private report showed the number of Americans with equity in their homes increased last year. That suggests one of the biggest drags from the housing crisis is easing and could clear the way for more people to put homes on the market.

Housing starts jumped in the Northeast and Midwest, while they fell in the South and West. Permits rose in the South, West and Midwest, falling only in the Northeast.

The U.S. housing market is recovering after stagnating for roughly five years. Steady job gains and near-record-low mortgage rates have encouraged more people to buy.

In addition, more people are seeking their own homes after doubling up with friends and relatives in the recession. That’s leading to greater demand for apartments and single-family homes to rent.

Wine Bill Delayed Over Cigarette Sales

Sen. Bill Ketron has delayed a final committee vote on supermarket wine so he can rewrite the bill to keep cigarettes from being sold in liquor stores.

The Murfreesboro Republican said Tuesday that he still intends to move the bill to hold local referendums on whether to allow wine sales in grocery and convenience stores through the Senate Finance Committee as early as next week, but that he would then put the measure on hold before receiving a full floor vote.

The House version of the bill surprisingly failed in the Local Government Committee last week. Proponents hope the measure could be revived this year or next.

Under current law, supermarkets can’t sell any alcohol stronger than beer, while package stores can’t sell anything other than wine, liquor and lottery tickets.

Briarcrest Awarded $100,000 Grant From Assisi Foundation

The Assisi Foundation of Memphis has awarded Briarcrest Christian School a $100,000 grant to be used for the construction of the Dr. Willard R. Sparks Chapel and Performing Arts Center.

The balance of the project will be funded by net proceeds from the sale of Briarcrest’s East Memphis campus to Highpoint Church, a lead gift to the school by the Sparks Foundation and a modest capital campaign.

The new 35,000-square-foot facility will be the centerpiece of the Houston Levee Road campus, featuring a 1,000-seat venue, which will be named the Dr. Willard R. Sparks Chapel and Performing Arts Center.

In addition to the chapel and performing arts center, the new facility will include additional classrooms and practice rooms for the performing arts, a full theatrical stage, backstage holding areas, full dressing rooms, set workshop, orchestra pit and an informal art gallery. The addition will also be the new home of the administrative offices, which will include the admissions, business affairs, communications, development and information technology departments, as well as the headmaster’s and president’s offices.

Construction of the Sparks Chapel and Performing Arts Center is currently under way and is expected to be completed by fall.

FedEx to Pay New York City $2.4 Million in Cigarette Dispute

A division of FedEx has agreed to pay New York City $2.4 million to settle an accusation that it improperly delivered up to 70 tons of contraband cigarettes.

The city sued FedEx Ground for accepting packages from a Kentucky company called CigarettesDirect2U, which helped New Yorkers evade high cigarette taxes by shipping untaxed cartons from out of state. Those types of sales are illegal. CigarettesDirect2U was shut down by federal authorities in 2009.

FedEx Ground said in a statement it was paying the money to avoid expensive litigation, and not because it had done anything wrong.

The company said it already prohibits illegal tobacco shipments and would cooperate with New York City to ensure that shippers comply with that policy.

Magna Bank Runs First Television Ad

Starting this week, Magna Bank will begin airing a 30-second TV ad as part of its “We’re For You” print, online and broadcast advertising campaign.

The ad will air in the Memphis market on local networks, select cable channels and also on YouTube.

Magna’s “We’re For You” campaign was developed with Memphis-based Sullivan Branding, and it’s built around showing how the bank helps customers meet their financial goals.

Magna’s TV ad will air in the market through June, then again during the fall.

Accion in Tennessee Opens Downtown Office

Accion in Tennessee is opening a new Memphis office Downtown this week.

The Accion office will be at EmergeMemphis, 516 Tennessee St., with a grand opening Thursday, March 21, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Accion is an extension of Accion Texas Inc., a microlender, which began operations in Tennessee in early 2012. To date, Accion has loaned almost $90,000 to Memphis-area small-business owners, according to the firm.

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