VOL. 7 | NO. 35 | Saturday, August 23, 2014
EDGE OKs Changes to Old Dominion PILOT
The Economic Development and Growth Engine of Memphis and Shelby County tweaked the tax incentives for an expanding trucking company.
The payment-in-lieu-of-tax incentive, or PILOT, awarded to North Carolina-based less-than-truckload carrier Old Dominion Freight Line Inc. last year had to be adjusted after the company said it would create fewer jobs in the ramp-up period but increase capital spending and wages.
Old Dominion will create 160 additional jobs within two years, down from the 188 jobs the company originally predicted. Capital investment increased to $36 million from $31 million and the company’s average annual salary will be $55,000, up from around $52,000.
After outgrowing it current facility at 3050 Carrier Rd., Old Dominion, which said it also considered a site in DeSoto County, is moving to a new facility on 60 acres at Airways Boulevard and State Line Road. The nine-year PILOT will save the company around $5 million in taxes while producing $8.56 in million tax revenue for the city and county.
MERI Receives $150,000 Grant
The Medical Education and Research Institute has announced that the not-for-profit medical education and research, hands-on training school has been awarded a $150,000 grant from the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation.
With this grant, MERI will be able to provide simulated pediatric patient safety training for rural hospitals and emergency medical services in West Tennessee. Armed with a goal of improving the outcomes of pediatric patients in pre-hospital and emergency department settings in underserved areas, MERI will provide on-site, hands-on education, incorporating electronic human patient pediatric simulators.
The training will be implemented in 26 rural and small hospital emergency departments as well as the 20 emergency medical service providers in rural West Tennessee areas. Educational courses will include a needs assessment, lifesaving interventions, airway and resuscitation techniques and grading against standards of care, such as how to identify a sick child’s symptoms. In addition to the grant from BlueCross BlueShield, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital Comprehensive Regional Pediatric Center will support MERI by providing in-kind pediatric educators in the West Tennessee facilities.
Cooper-Young Festival Returns in September
The annual Evolve Bank and Trust Cooper-Young Festival returns next month.
The largest single-day festival in Memphis, now in its 27th year, will be held Sept. 13 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. It’s hosted by the Cooper Young Business Association to make the district known both locally and nationally and to draw homeowners and merchants to the neighborhood.
The festival will include more than 425 artists, local Memphis bands will play original tunes on three stages, and there will be a “teenage fun zone.”
There are new offerings this year to help visitors attend the festival. Lindenwood Christian Church is offering shuttle services, with drop-off at the festival entrance every 15 minutes. Memphis Hop also has teamed up with Oak Court Mall to provide shuttles every two hours starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 8 p.m.
Redbirds Playoff Tickets Go On Sale Saturday
Tickets for the 2014 Pacific Coast League playoffs at AutoZone Park will go on sale to the general public Saturday, Aug. 23, at 10 a.m.
Fans can purchase tickets over the phone at 721-6000 or in person at the AutoZone Park box office at the corner of Third Street and Union Avenue in downtown Memphis. Single-game tickets for all Memphis Redbirds home playoff games are priced at $21 for club level, $17 for dugout, $14 for field box, $13 for reserved and $6 for bluff seating.
Playoff ticket packages to all six games are also available in the dugout ($90) or field box ($75) sections, which offer a discount off single-game pricing. In the event of a shorter series, all unplayed games will be refunded.
The Redbirds are in contention for the PCL American Southern Division title. Their regular season concludes Sept. 1 at New Orleans. The current homestand runs through Wednesday, Aug. 27.
College of Health Professions to Celebrate Name Change
The College of Health Professions at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center will hold two celebrations Wednesday, Aug. 27, to commemorate the college’s renaming.
A lunchtime event for students, faculty and staff will be held in the Student-Alumni Center, 800 Madison Ave., from noon to 1:30 p.m., while a reception for alumni and donors is set for 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the lobby of the Madison Plaza. About 300 UTHSC team members are expected at the afternoon gathering, and some 150 donors and alumni will join the evening reception.
The unit – formerly the College of Allied Health Sciences – marked its official name change on July 1, the start of UTHSC’s 2015 fiscal year. Founded in 1972 as the College of Community and Allied Health, the unit’s name was abridged to the College of Allied Health Sciences in 1985.
With fall enrollment at 585 students, the College of Health Professions now comprises six departments: audiology and speech pathology, clinical laboratory sciences, health informatics and information management, occupational therapy, physical therapy and physician assistant studies. Depending on the program selected, students obtain training in the COHP at the bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral levels.
McDonald Re-Elected at Filing Deadline
Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald was re-elected to another four-year term of office at the noon Thursday, Aug. 21, filing deadline for candidates in four sets of suburban municipal elections on the Nov. 4 ballot.
The other mayor’s race on the Nov. 4 ballot in Germantown is between Alderman Mike Palazzolo and retired Germantown community services director George Brogdon. Incumbent Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy is not seeking re-election.
Of the 20 municipal races across Germantown, Bartlett, Collierville and Millington, 11—including Bartlett mayor – were one-candidate races decided at the filing deadline, according to an updated listing from the Shelby County Election Commission an hour after the noon deadline.
The only local race Bartlett voters will be deciding in November is the alderman race between incumbent Bubba Pleasant and challenger Mick Wright.
In Collierville, incumbent Alderman Bill Patton faces a challenge from John E. Stamps III and Alderman Thomas Allen is being challenged by Greg Cotton.
Germantown school board member Mark Dely is being challenged by Gary Tigert.
Incumbent Germantown Alderman Greg Marcom has opposition from John Barzizza while Mary Anne Gibson and Mary Chick Hill are vying for the alderman’s position now held by John Drinnon, who is not seeking re-election.
Millington incumbent school board member Cody Childress has opposition from Emile G. Sigee.
FedEx Weighs in on PILOT Incentives
FedEx has urged Memphis officials to keep tax incentives for businesses in place and suggested that any major changes to the existing program could cause the company to invest elsewhere.
"As we look at the modernization of the Express air hubs, the availability of incentives by local governments is an important factor to our decisions, whether it is here in Memphis, Indianapolis, Newark, Greensboro or Oakland," Christine P. Richards, FedEx executive vice president, wrote in a July 31 letter to City Council chairman Jim Strickland and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. "We would be disappointed to see action taken to change the PILOT program, particularly with respect to retention, that would disadvantage Memphis in comparison to other locations.”
The letter was distributed Tuesday, July 19, during a council discussion on the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, incentive program. The Memphis-based shipping giant saved around $3.2 million last year because of the PILOT program. A PILOT on the company’s global headquarters is slated to expire at the end of the year, according to the Shelby County Trustee’s office.
The PILOT program has come under scrutiny in the wake of reductions in city employee and retiree benefits. Critics, led by municipal labor unions, say the program is a drain on city coffers. But business officials have staunchly defended the program, saying it is essential to creating new jobs and tax revenue.
The council did not take any action on the PILOT program Tuesday.
Georgia Mayor to Keynote RISE Foundation Gala
The mayor of Riverdale, Ga., will present the keynote at the Sept. 27 gala benefiting the RISE Foundation’s financial literacy programs.
Evelyn Winn-Dixon was elected mayor of Riverdale, an Atlanta suburb, in 2007 in a political career that emerged from being a homeless single mother of four.
She earned a Ph.D. in public health and became a caseworker at Atlanta’s Grady Hospital before becoming a hospice director. Her bid for mayor of Riverdale was her first political involvement. The RISE Foundation gala will be held at the Hilton Memphis, 939 Ridge Lake Blvd.
Chick-fil-A Testing New Breakfast Menu in Memphis
Soon, Chick-fil-A might be serving new breakfast items like chicken & waffles nationwide.
The chain is asking customers in Memphis to help take its new breakfast menu, which includes a handful of new items, for a spin. Customers have told the chain they want a bigger breakfast menu, and as a result Chick-fil-A is testing five new entrees: egg white chicken grill, Greek yogurt parfait, multigrain oatmeal, chicken and waffles, and cinnamon swirls.
On a related note, Chick-fil-A also just started brewing THRIVE Farmers Coffee, hot and iced, at all of its restaurants.
Council Rejects Utility Construction Contract
The Memphis City Council approved on the first of three readings Tuesday, Aug. 19, an ordinance that adjusts the city’s policy on the investment of the city’s pension fund. The change would up the percentage of investments in real estate from 5 percent to 10 percent.
In other action Tuesday, council members approved the transfer of $3.5 million in construction period rent on The Pyramid from Bass Pro Shops to the city’s Housing and Community Development Division.
The council also voted down an $8.8 million contract between Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division and David H. Elliot Construction Co. of Lexington, Ky., for electric construction.
The contract is for meeting federal NERC – North American Electric Reliability Corp. – standards for the reliability of the power grid. Council members and the union representing utility employees didn’t like that the contract went to an out-of-town contractor.
The council approved $26.8 million in actuarial funding to the Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division retirement and pension system for the 2014 plan year. They also approved a $13.3 million transfer from the utility common fund to pay MLGW’s annual OPEB – other post-employment benefits – cost.
Third and final reading of council member Wanda Halbert’s ordinance creating community advisory councils to set priorities for a $14 million pool of capital funding among the seven council districts was delayed to Sept. 16.
New U of M Graduates Eligible for Football Tickets
The University of Memphis Athletic Department has announced it will continue the free football season tickets promotion for first-year graduates and has added a new discount ticket program for anyone who graduated from the university in the last four years.
Any person who graduated from the University of Memphis in December 2013, May 2014 or August 2014 with an undergraduate, graduate, doctoral or professional degree is eligible to receive two free football season tickets.
Those who graduated between December 2010 and August 2013 are eligible for the Young Alumni discount ticket program and can purchase up to two season tickets for $45 each. Tickets are located in sections 126, 127 and 128 of Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, near the student section. The ticket office will also work to fulfill any requests to sit near friends or family who are also participating in the Young Alumni program.
The Tigers are also extending a Young Alumni promotion for men’s basketball. Anyone who graduated from the University of Memphis in the past four years is eligible to purchase discounted season tickets for 2014-15.
Tenn. Unemployment Rate Rises to 7.1 Percent
The state unemployment rate inched higher in July.
Tennessee’s preliminary unemployment rate for July was 7.1 percent, up from the revised 6.6 percent rate in June, according to Tennessee Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips.
Nationally, the preliminary rate for July was 6.2 percent, up from 6.1 percent in June.
While the unemployment rate increased in July, it is down through the first seven months of the year. Year to date, Tennessee's unemployment rate has decreased from 8.4 percent to 7.1 percent, mirroring the nationwide drop from 7.5 percent to 6.2 percent.
The biggest job losses were in the public sector. Government employment in Tennessee is down 4.9 percent in July when compared to July 2013. The only other sector of the economy which posted job losses over that same period of time was in the Information sector, which was down 0.9 percent.
Year to date, nonfarm employment increased by 51,900 jobs. The largest increases occurred in professional/business services, leisure/hospitality and trade/transportation/utilities industries.
Some Fed Officials Favor Reduced Help for Economy
Some Federal Reserve officials think the economy is improving fast enough that the Fed will soon need to signal a change in the extraordinary support it's been providing the economy in the form of ultra-low interest rates.
Minutes of the Fed's discussion at its July 29-30 meeting show that some officials thought the economy was improving enough that the Fed would need "to call for a relatively prompt move" toward reducing the support it has been providing. Otherwise, they felt the Fed risked overshooting its targets for unemployment and inflation.
In the end, the Fed made no changes at the July meeting. It approved on a 9-1 vote keeping its current stance on interest rates. But the minutes indicated rising support for a change.
Medtronic Spine Sees Quarterly Revenue Drop
Medtronic Inc. reported Tuesday, Aug. 19, that revenue in its Memphis-based Spine division totaled $743 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2015, a 3 percent decline from the same period in fiscal year 2014.
Overall, Minneapolis-based Medtronic reported net income declined by nearly 9 percent to $871 million, or 87 cents per share, in the fiscal first quarter, from $953 million, or 93 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.
Core Spine revenue of $552 million declined 2 percent year over year. Interventional Spine revenue of $81 million grew 4 percent during the same period. BMP revenue of $110 million declined 11 percent.
“Medtronic Spine had solid growth in our Interventional Spine business and developed international markets, but softness in Core Spine offset those gains,” said Doug King, senior vice president and president, Medtronic Spine. “We believe the softness in Core Spine was driven primarily by a number of one-time events and that Spine remains on track to return to growth in FY15.”
The Medtronic Spine division is the second-largest division at Medtronic, employing 5,600 people worldwide, with approximately 1,300 employees in Memphis, and annual revenue of $3 billion in fiscal year 2014.
Roxul’s Mississippi Plant Opening In September
Roxul Inc. will open its Marshall County, Miss., manufacturing plant in September.
In May, Roxul, a Danish maker of stone or rock wool insulation, broke ground on the $160 million, 600,000-square-foot production facility.
The Ontario, Canada-based company will open the facility inside the Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park area on Sept. 24. The facility is expected to employ 150 people.
Other companies locating inside Marshall County include Asics, Volvo and Exel. Just across the state line in Fayette County, Tenn., MCR Safety has opened a $19 million, 500,000-square-foot distribution facility.
Commission OKs Sewer Conversion in Cotton Creek
Shelby County Commissioners approved Monday, Aug. 18, up to $3 million in county funding to convert a group of 100 homes in the Cotton Creek, Kirkland Estates and Fox Hollow Farms area near Collierville from individual pump sewer systems to a gravity-based sewer system, reversing a 2009 decision by a previous commission.
Commissioner Mike Ritz offered the item, saying it was time for the county to fix the problem it created by switching the area from septic tanks to a system that residents say is breaking down, was never inspected by county officials, and effectively bars them from reselling their homes because it doesn’t meet building codes.
Commissioners met last week privately with county attorneys about the possibility of litigation over the problems from homeowners.
County chief administrative officer Harvey Kennedy said the administration preferred more review before acting but would abide by the commission’s decision.
In other action, the commission approved a $2.2 million state grant for a new pedestrian Benjestown Road Bridge over the Loosahatchie River as well as a $15.7 million grant contract with the state to fund and manage the widening of Macon Road from Berryhill Road to Houston Levee Road.
Bass, Berry & Sims Opens Pharma Practice
The Bass, Berry & Sims PLC law firm has opened a specialty pharmacy, pharma services and distribution practice based in the firm’s Memphis office.
Michael R. Hess, the former chief counsel and vice president of strategic development at Accredo Health Group is leading the new practice, which includes attorney Shannon L. Wiley.
The practice area provides business advice and legal guidance on trade and distribution issues. That includes regulatory issues as well.
Hess will specifically focus on pharmaceutical trade and distribution, working with all size pharmaceutical companies as well as reimbursement hubs and support organizations.
NULYP President to Speak in Memphis This Weekend
National Urban League Young Professionals president Brandi Richard will speak this weekend during the Memphis Urban League Young Professionals’ second annual Empowerment Conference.
That event happens Saturday, Aug. 23, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a kickoff reception Friday, Aug. 22, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Crescent Club. There also will be an after-party Saturday from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Opera Memphis.
Conference sessions will include topics such as building sustainable cities, career enhancement through volunteerism, personal branding, work-life balance and more. For details, including session topics and ticket information, visit ype2014.eventbrite.com.
Berger Withdraws New Brewery Application
Restaurateur Taylor Berger has withdrawn the application he had pending before the city-county Board of Adjustment related to a new proposal for the Tennessee Brewery that would have been similar to the Untapped series of events earlier this year.
He told The Daily News the reason is he’s “excited about the redevelopment prospect and didn’t want to do anything that might jeopardize it.” That’s a reference to the recent revelation that a buyer has emerged for the brewery property who is remaining secret for now, according to a representative of the owner.
Berger says he’s not involved in whatever that new development proposal will become.
Grizzlies Sign Stokes to Multi-Year Deal
The Memphis Grizzlies signed 2014 second-round draft pick Jarnell Stokes to a multiyear contract, the team has announced. Per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed. Stokes (6-foot-9, 263 pounds) was selected by the Utah Jazz in the second round (35th overall) of the 2014 NBA draft and traded to Memphis on draft night for a 2016 second-round draft pick.
Before entering the NBA draft, Stokes played three years at the University of Tennessee (2011-14), averaging 13.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.08 blocks on .530 shooting in 29.7 minutes in 87 games.
Stokes left the Volunteers ranked fourth in school history in double-doubles (40), eighth in total rebounds (836) and 14th in blocks (94). He led the SEC in offensive rebounding in each of his final two years.
Haslam Visits East High to Promote Tenn. Promise
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam was in Memphis Monday, Aug. 18, to promote the Tennessee Promise program that offers two years of free community college to all Tennessee high school graduates.
The stop at East High School is one of six Haslam is making across the state this week as the program, which was approved by the Tennessee Legislature earlier this year, begins a rollout that starts with high school seniors who graduate in 2015.