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VOL. 128 | NO. 171 | Monday, September 2, 2013

Daily Digest

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Apple Grove Owner Files $5.6 Million Loan

The owner of the Apple Grove Alzheimer’s & Dementia Residence at 3575 Hacks Cross Road in Southeast Memphis has filed a $5.6 million loan on the property.

Apple Grove LLC filed the deed of trust Aug. 1 through Oppenheimer Multifamily Housing & Healthcare Finance Inc. Ed Apple Sr. signed the trust deed as sole member of Apple Grove.

Built in 2008, the 22,332-square-foot facility sits on 4.3 acres on the west side of Hacks Cross Road, north of its intersection with Winchester Road. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2013 appraisal is $2.8 million.

The assessor lists the owner as Eads-based Apple Investment Properties; it acquired the property in a 2007 quitclaim deed from Mary Anne Apple.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

Breen Takes Over as Chief Federal Judge

U.S. District Judge Daniel Breen is the new chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.

Breen’s new position is based on seniority on the federal bench and his never having held the position before.

He succeeds Judge Jon P. McCalla, who took senior status in August. McCalla had been chief judge since 2008.

The chief judge handles administrative duties for the set of U.S. district judges for the Western District of Tennessee, which has offices in Memphis and Jackson, Tenn.

– Bill Dries

Bigfish Redefines Strategy, Develops New Partnerships

For the past year, Memphis-based creative agency Bigfish has implemented a branding initiative it’s called “The Year of You,” putting an emphasis on the things that its clients and the community at large are doing.

That message led to a desire to focus on three key areas of the business: not-for-profits, health care and membership organizations such as fraternities, sororities and alumni associations.

The company has developed a “Community Leader” model to help facilitate its plan. Bigfish president Tim Nicholson is leading the company’s efforts with a suite of solutions developed by his team.

Addie McGowan, social giving community leader, will work with not-for-profits and alumni segments of membership organizations and higher education via the company’s social giving platform. Mandy Willhite, e-learning community leader, will leverage the company’s training platform for membership organizations and health care.

Bigfish also is partnering with GIN System, a full-service technology solutions provider, and is developing similar relationships with third-party payment processors, content creators, database integrators and offline service providers whose work supplements its own.

– Andy Meek

Barnett Group Employees Train in Health Care Reform

Employees at The Barnett Group, a benefits consulting company, are ramping up training and preparation on health care reform policies, laws and regulations, mandated benefits and compliance deadlines.

Several members of the group recently completed their Healthcare Reform Specialist Certification, a designation given to insurance agents, brokers and health care consultants who complete a specialized course and exam and fulfill a minimum number of requirements each year.

The designation also requires specialists to remain up to date on best practices, rules and changes to the Affordable Care Act.

“The Affordable Care Act can be tricky and difficult to understand, so if we can ease the process for our clients, we’re going to continue to take advantage of opportunities that provide additional training and education,” said Ed Barnett, founder and president of The Barnett Group.

Barnett Group employees who have completed the certification are Ed Barnett, Wes Barnett, Chirag Chauhan, Jonathan Edwards, Lindsey Harmon, Brandon Kimbrough, Carla Lyles, Judi Mixon and Dora Da Silva.

– Jennifer Johnson Backer

US Consumer Spending Up Weak 0.1 Percent in July

U.S. consumers barely increased their spending in July as their income grew more slowly, held back in part by steep government spending cuts that reduced federal workers’ salaries. The tepid gains suggest economic growth is off to a weak start in the July-September quarter.

The Commerce Department said Friday that consumer spending rose just 0.1 percent in July from the previous month. That’s slower than June’s 0.6 percent increase.

Consumers cut their spending on long-lasting manufactured goods, such as cars and appliances. Spending on services was unchanged.

Income rose 0.1 percent in July following a 0.3 percent June gain.

Overall wages and salaries tumbled $21.8 billion from June – a third of the decline came from forced furloughs of federal workers.

Consumers’ spending drives roughly 70 percent of economic activity. The weak spending report led some economists to sound a more pessimistic note about economic growth in the current July-September quarter. It follows July data showing steep drops in orders for long-lasting manufactured goods and new-home sales.

“This is a disappointing report on a number of levels,” said James Marple, senior economist at TD Economics. “Prospects for a pickup in economic growth in the third quarter hinge on a broad-based acceleration in spending by households and business to offset the ongoing drag from government. The data for the first month of the quarter are not following this script.”

– The Associated Press

US Consumer Sentiment Falls From 6-Year High

A measure of U.S. consumer confidence slipped this month from a six-year high in July, as Americans expressed less optimism about the coming months.

The University of Michigan says that its final reading of consumer sentiment dropped to 82.1 in August from 85.1 in the previous month.

Americans said they were less confident that the job market will improve but more confident that their income will rise.

Even with the decline, the index is nearly 8 points higher than a year ago. That suggests consumer spending could pick up later this year.

A separate report Friday showed that consumer spending barely increased in July as income growth slowed. Consumer spending drives roughly 70 percent of economic activity.

– The Associated Press

Judge: Airline-Merger Trial to Start in November

A federal judge said Friday that the government’s lawsuit to block the proposed merger of American Airlines and US Airways will start Nov. 25, a timetable favored by the airlines.

The U.S. Justice Department had wanted the trial to start in March, saying it needed more time to prepare for the complex case. The airlines said that such a long delay would threaten their merger.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said in court Friday that March was “too far off.”

The companies were close to completing a merger to create the world’s biggest airline, but the Justice Department and six states sued this month to block the deal.

They said it would reduce competition and lead to higher prices for travelers. They said that the combined American-US Airways would be too dominant at Reagan National Airport outside Washington and on many routes around the country.

Justice Department lawyers have also pointed to recent record profits at both airlines – July’s profit was a one-month high at American parent AMR Corp., which has been cutting costs under bankruptcy protection – to argue that the companies don’t need to merge to survive.

The airlines argue that their merger would increase competition by creating another big competitor to United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, which grew through recent mergers.

They also point to the presence of other competitors, including Southwest, which carries more passengers within the United States than any airline and which is coming to Memphis this fall.

Both sides said in a court filing this week that they were open to a settlement that would avoid a trial, although each made comments suggesting that they were not close to agreement.

If the merger is blocked, AMR will have to rewrite its plan for emerging from bankruptcy protection. The merger is a key part of that plan.

– The Associated Press

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