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VOL. 6 | NO. 37 | Saturday, September 7, 2013

Daily Digest

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3 ZeroTo510 Companies Win Additional Funding

Three companies that participated in the 2013 ZeroTo510 medical device accelerator program this summer have been chosen to continue to the program’s second phrase and get an additional round of funding – $100,000 each, to be exact.

The three companies are Better Walk, Mobilizer and View Medical.

The program is operated by Memphis Bioworks, and both seed funding and follow-on funding is provided by co-investors Innova and MB Venture Partners. In all, ZeroTo510 has accelerated the creation of 12 new companies, more than 25 local jobs and more than $4 million in investments.

Expedia Raising Money for St. Jude

Online travel site Expedia is launching a month-long campaign that includes travel giveaways and exclusive travel coupons to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Anyone who wants to take part can visit stjude.expedia.com to enter more than 150 giveaway sweepstakes. Each entry comes with a suggested donation of $5, 100 percent of which goes to the hospital, and participants can choose as many trip options as they want.

They’ll have the ability to enter each giveaway once a day for all of September. The options include getaways to Bali, Hawaii, Morocco and more.

At the end of the campaign, a winner will be chosen at random for each trip.

Carr Makes Campaign Appearance in Memphis Saturday

Tennessee state Rep. Joe Carr, who is challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s bid for re-election, makes his first Memphis campaign appearance Saturday, Sept. 7.

Carr, who is running in a 2014 Republican U.S. Senate primary challenge of Alexander, is speaking at a “Beat Lamar” forum at 3 p.m. at Jason’s Deli, 3473 Poplar Ave.

The forum is a gathering of Tea Party activists who will take a straw poll to gauge local support for Carr.

BankTennessee's Atoka Branch Goes Full-Service

BankTennessee’s office in Atoka is now a full-service bank branch.

Since August 2012, that location has been a loan production office and unable to take deposits like a full-service facility.

BankTennessee president and CEO Jim Rout said the location’s conversion to a full-service branch is an initial step in the bank’s growth plan, which includes having the Atoka location filling a gap between Shelby and Lauderdale counties.

ADP: Businesses Added 176,000 Jobs in August

American businesses added 176,000 jobs in August, a private survey showed. That was fewer than in June and July but roughly in line with the monthly average for the year.

The payroll company ADP said professional and business services firms added 50,000 jobs. Manufacturers created 5,000, reversing a drop in July, and construction firms 4,000. Companies in all industries and of all sizes hired in August, ADP said.

The ADP figures come a day before the Labor Department will release its jobs report for August. The department's report will capture both private- and public-sector job growth for the month.

The ADP figures often vary from the Labor Department's official job figures. According to ADP, private employers have added an average 170,000 jobs a month this year through July. The Labor Department shows companies added an average of 196,000 new jobs a month through July.

Retailers Report Modest Sales Gains for August

Americans' cautious spending on clothing extended into August, capping a weak back-to-school selling season for retailers.

Several retailers including clothiers Cato Corp. and L Brands Inc. recently posted disappointing revenue during the month, which falls in the middle of the second biggest shopping period of the year.

The results raise questions about whether Americans will spend during the winter holidays in November and December, a time retailers can make up to 40 percent of their revenue for the year. While the back-to-school season, which runs from mid-July through mid-September, isn't an absolute predictor of how Americans will spend during the winter holidays, it does offer insight into consumers' mindset.

Overall, revenue at stores opened at least a year — a measure of a retailer's health — rose 3.7 percent in August, according to a preliminary tally of 8 retailers by the International Council of Shopping Centers. That's up slightly from July's 3.5 percent gain, but below the 6 percent gain in August last year.

Only a sliver of retail chains report monthly sales figures, and the list doesn't include Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Macy's Inc. and many other large chains. In total, the retailers that report monthly data represent about 6 percent of the $2.4 trillion in U.S. retail industry sales.

US Factory Orders Drop 2.4 Percent in July

Orders to U.S. factories fell in July by the sharpest amount in four months, held back by weaker demand for commercial aircraft and heavy machinery. A key category that reflects business investment plans also fell.

Factory orders dropped 2.4 percent in July compared with June, when orders rose 1.6 percent, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

Orders for core capital goods, a category viewed as a proxy for business investment spending, fell 4 percent in July.

Core capital goods are considered a good measure of businesses' confidence in the economy. They include items that point to expansion – such as machinery, computers and heavy trucks – while excluding volatile orders for aircraft and defense. The July setback was expected to be temporary.

Orders for durable goods, items expected to last at least three years, declined 7.4 percent, a slightly bigger drop than the 7.3 percent fall estimated in a preliminary report last week. It was the biggest decline since a 12.9 percent fall in August 2012. Orders for nondurable goods, items such as chemicals, food and paper, rose 2.4 percent in July after a 0.5 percent decline in June.

Excluding the volatile transportation category, factory goods orders were up 1.2 percent.

US Service Firms Expand at Fastest Pace in 8 Years

Companies in the U.S. service sector expanded at their fastest pace in nearly 8 years last month as sales and orders grew and employers ramped up hiring.

The Institute for Supply Management said Thursday that its service-sector index rose to 58.6 in August from 56 in July. It's the highest point since December 2005. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

A measure of hiring rose to 57, the most in six months. That's an encouraging sign for the job market because the service sector employs 90 percent of the U.S. workforce, including retail, construction, health care and financial services.

Consumers appear to be spending more at auto dealerships, retailers, hotels and restaurants. The housing recovery is also spurring growth in real estate.

The report "implies that the economic recovery is gathering a real head of steam," said Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics.

Congressmen Visiting FedEx World Hub

Two U.S. congressmen are visiting Memphis this week as part of a road tour across the country in an effort to advocate for comprehensive tax reform.

U.S. Rep. Dave Camp – R-Mich., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee – and U.S. Sen. Max Baucus – D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee – will visit the FedEx Express World Hub Monday, Sept. 9. They’ll talk with company leaders and customers about how the tax code affects their respective businesses.

Their first stop Monday will be at a family farm in Oakland for what’s being billed as a “kitchen table conversation.” The tour then moves to the FedEx World Hub.

The two committee chairmen have been traveling the country, collecting feedback about the U.S. tax code. They started in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, meeting with workers and executives at 3M and at a family-owned bakery.

Then they headed to Pennsylvania and New Jersey to visit a few small businesses. Next up was a trip to Silicon Valley for meetings with tech companies Intel and Square.

CREW Memphis Hosts State of the Market Report

The Memphis chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women will host a lunch meeting Sept. 19 on the state of the local commercial real estate market.

Experts from CB Richard Ellis Memphis, an affiliate of CBRE Inc., will highlight the market for office, industrial and retail space, as well as investment properties. The State of the Market Report is sponsored by The Daily News and CBRE Memphis.

The event will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Chickasaw Country Club, 3395 Galloway Ave. Tickets can be purchased by Sept. 13 at www.crewmemphis.org.

Council OKs Statue Move, Demolition Moratorium

Memphis City Council members approved a four-month moratorium Tuesday, Sept. 3, on any new demolition permits for city properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

But the resolution was amended to not apply to any demolition permits already issued, including the one for the Nineteenth Century Club building in Midtown. The planned demolition of the property by its new owners to make way for a restaurant is on hold, pending a Chancery Court decision on whether the club’s sale of the property was legal.

The club was the impetus for the original terms of the moratorium sought by council members Janis Fullilove and Lee Harris.

The council also approved a resolution that sets the stage for relocating the Christopher Columbus statue in Downtown’s Columbus Park to Marquette Park in East Memphis. The resolution spells out that the Italian-American organization UNICO will pay all costs for moving the statue, which it donated to and located in the Downtown park in 1987.

And the council approved the allocation and appropriation of $12 million to the Pyramid Redevelopment Project. That is the city’s portion of changes to The Pyramid in preparation for work by Bass Pro Shops to develop its retail store and other attractions. The $12 million is to “off-set and complete the project’s contract obligations” by the city, according to the resolution.

In other action Tuesday, the council approved a special use permit that permits the historic Lee House, at 690 Adams Ave., to be converted into a five-room bed-and-breakfast.

Gary Sinise & Lt. Dan Band to Play Memphis Benefit

Gary Sinise & the Lt. Dan Band will be in Memphis in November.

The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Gary Sinise Foundation are teaming up to host a benefit concert Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. in honor of Marine Cpl. Christian “CB” Brown. The concert featuring Gary Sinise, well-known for his role in “Forrest Gump” as Lt. Dan, and his band will be held at the Memphis Cook Convention Center and will launch “Operation CB,” an effort to raise money to build Brown a “smart home” in Munford.

Brown enlisted in 2009 and was sent to Marjah, Afghanistan, for his first deployment. After returning safely, he volunteered to redeploy to Afghanistan. He led 163 combat missions as squad leader.

In December 2011, Brown stepped on an improvised explosive device and was seriously wounded. His treatment required, among other things, amputations of both legs.

Archer-Malmo Grows With Four Hires

Memphis-based marketing communications agency archer-malmo continues to grow its ranks.

The agency has made four new hires, including Lukus Blackford as a search engine optimization and analytics specialist, Cary New as a public relations senior account executive, Casey Lissau as associate creative director and Christina Comas as retail marketing account coordinator.

That growth helps illustrate why the agency recently was named to the Inc. 5000 list, a ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. The Agency Post also recently put archer-malmo on its Agency 100, a list of the fastest-growing advertising and marketing agencies in the U.S.

Blackford is supporting archer-malmo’s digital team on SEO projects for all agency clients and social media listening and online reputation for Zoetis.

New spent the last 15 years at Viking Range Corp., where she specialized in corporate and B2B media relations. Most recently, she was the media chairman/director for the Viking Classic PGA Tour Golf Tournament.

Lissau previously was a senior art director at Sullivan Branding. Over the last 10 years, he’s also picked up more than 20 regional ADDYs and more than 40 local ADDYs.

Comas will support local marketing activities for all of the Palm Beach Tan corporate markets. She’s held marketing department roles with various local organizations, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and most recently as a marketing coordinator for the Germantown Performing Arts Center.

Health Care Groups Form UT Methodist Physicians

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, UT Medical Group Inc. and The University of Tennessee Health Science Center have teamed up to create a new academic physician group, officials said.

The new practice, UT Methodist Physicians, launched on Sept. 1 and includes urology, surgical oncology and most adult medicine specialties, such as internal medicine, pulmonology and endocrinology.

New economic realities are pushing local hospitals to purchase physician practices at a pace not seen since the last wave of consolidation in the 1990s. In Memphis, many physicians have chosen to align with the region’s three major hospital systems: Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp., Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare and Saint Francis Healthcare.

Fifty-three doctors and 80 supporting staff members have joined the new UT Methodist Physicians group, becoming Methodist Le Bonheur employees.

“As Methodist continues to align with physician practices whose goals closely mirror ours, this is the right thing to do for our patients,” said Gary Shorb, president and chief executive officer of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare. “It will ensure that we are all on the same page regarding quality measures and efficiency of patient care.”

Certificate of Need Approved for Baptist Hospital-DeSoto

Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto in Southaven has been given state approval to add therapeutic radiation equipment to its existing radiation services at the hospital.

The Mississippi State Department of Health issued a certificate of need for the project this week. Mississippi requires a certificate to avoid duplication of health care services and control costs.

Baptist Memorial Hospital proposes to increase the number of radiation therapy units that are used for regular service from one to two. The project will entail converting the existing backup unit at BMH-D to regular, full-time use.

There is no capital expenditure for this project.

Triumph Bank Completes Purchase of M&P Bank Divisions

Memphis-based Triumph Bank has finalized the purchase of Merchant & Planters Bank divisions M&P Bank Home Loans and Community Bankers Mortgage Group.

Triumph assumed official ownership effective Aug. 31, according to Triumph chairman Hilliard Crews.

M&P Bank Home Loans is a consumer mortgage provider with offices in East Memphis, Collierville and Little Rock. Former M&P Bank Home Loans offices and all staff will operate as Triumph Mortgage, a division of Triumph Bank.

The purchase will more than quadruple Triumph’s mortgage division staff.

Triumph also is adding a wholesale and correspondent lending division to its business with the purchase of Community Bankers Mortgage Group.

US Home Prices Climb 12.4 Percent in July

U.S. home prices jumped 12.4 percent in July from a year earlier, reflecting a housing market that's increasingly favoring sellers amid a tight supply of available homes for sale.

Real estate data provider CoreLogic said Tuesday, Sept. 3, that home prices in every state but Delaware climbed on annual basis in July.

Ninety-nine of the 100 largest cities reported annual price gains.

Home prices grew 27 percent in Nevada, to lead all states.

CoreLogic also says prices rose 1.8 percent from June, the 17th straight month-over-month increase.

Consistent job gains and mortgage rates that are still historically low despite recent upticks are spurring more people to buy homes.

That's helped drive prices higher.

CoreLogic says U.S. home prices are now within 18 percent of their peak levels reached in April of 2006.

US Construction Spending Up 0.6 Percent in July

Spending on U.S. construction projects rose in July, led by strong gains in housing and nonresidential projects.

Construction spending increased 0.6 percent in July compared with June when activity was unchanged, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday, Sept. 3. The June performance represented an upward revision from an initial estimate that spending had fallen 0.6 percent.

Total construction activity rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $900.8 billion in July, the strongest performance since June 2009.

The July gain reflected a 0.6 percent rise in housing construction with both single-family and apartment construction posting gains. In June, housing had fallen 0.9 percent.

Government projects fell 0.3 percent in July with state and local spending down 0.4 percent. That drop more than offset a 1.1 percent rise in the smaller federal category.

The advance in housing activity pushed residential construction to its highest level since September 2008. The increase for nonresidential building was led by a 6.1 percent increase in construction of hotels and motels. Office building and the category that covers shopping centers also showed gains.

Total construction is 5.2 percent higher than it was a year ago, with residential activity up 17.2 percent and nonresidential construction up by a more modest 2 percent. Public construction is down 3.7 percent from a year ago as all levels of government are still facing tight budget constraints.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.”

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.

In-Rel Could Face Default on Clark Tower

In-Rel Properties Inc. could face “imminent default” on a $60.8 million loan secured by Clark Tower, a 33-story office building at 5100 Popular Ave., according to a Fitch Ratings report released Sept. 5.

As of July 2012, the building’s top three tenants were Concorde Career Colleges, Continental Traffic and Wade Hartfield, Fitch data shows. At that time, the loan did not pass Fitch’s refinance test, indicating a potential for loan default. That same Fitch report estimated loan losses of up to 7 percent.

Clark Tower was once home to The Summit Club, an exclusive private Memphis dining club that closed its doors in 2003. Today, the 33rd floor is occupied by Tower Center Memphis, an event space with panoramic views of the city. The space can be rented for social and corporate events.

– Jennifer Johnson Backer

PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
MORTGAGES 55 244 916
BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751