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VOL. 129 | NO. 7 | Friday, January 10, 2014

Daily Digest

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Nike Files $1.4 Million Permit for Frayser Facility

Nike Inc. has filed a $1.4 million building permit with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement for work on its North Memphis distribution center at 3100 New Frayser Blvd.

Elk Grove, Ill.-based Wynright Corp. applied for the permit, which calls for engineering materials and installation.

One of many permits filed for the $301 million project, it follows a $4.3 million building permit in the fall, also by Wynright, as well as a $4.4 million mechanical permit for work by S.A. Comunale Co. Inc. and a $3 million permit for the installation of “industrial steel storage racks” by Wynright, both filed earlier in 2013.

Nike one year ago paid $2.2 million to buy about 200 acres in Frayser from Belz Investco GP for the distribution center.

Operating in the transaction as Nike TN Inc., the Beaverton, Ore.-based sports giant bought the land in two parcels – a 162.5-acre tract and a 38.4-acre tract, both north of Nike’s 1.1 million-square-foot facility in Belz Enterprises Inc.’s Northridge Industrial Park.

The board of the Memphis and Shelby County Economic Development Growth Engine approved in 2012 a 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement with Nike for the project.

According to the approved PILOT, the expansion would retain 1,600 jobs and add 250 once the expanded facility opens. The PILOT amounts to a $57.8 million tax break with a local tax benefit of $105.3 million in return.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

East Memphis Restaurants Set Opening Dates

The two new restaurants being built at the Crescent Center office building in East Memphis will open during the next 30 days.

Seasons 52 will open at 6085 Poplar Ave. on Jan. 30, while The Capital Grille will open at 6065 Poplar Ave. on Feb. 3.

The Darden Restaurants Inc. restaurants are located on the grounds of Highwoods Properties Inc.’s Crescent Center, at Poplar Avenue and Ridgeway Road.

Seasons 52 offers healthy meals with menus that change with the seasons, while The Capital Grille specializes in steak and seafood. Each restaurant will be the first of its kind in Tennessee.

– Amos Maki

Globetrotters ‘Fans Rule’ Tour Comes to Memphis

The world-famous Harlem Globetrotters will take fan interaction to new heights when the 2014 “Fans Rule” Tour comes to FedExForum Saturday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m.

The Globetrotters will let fans vote on rules, and this year the tour includes “hot hand jerseys” that the Globetrotters and the opposing team can pass among themselves. Whichever player – one on each team – is wearing a hot hand jersey receives double points on made baskets.

There are other wacky rules up for consideration, and online voting is open at harlemglobetrotters.com/rule, where fans can choose the game-changing rules they want to see in their hometown. The Globetrotters have showcased their unique talents in 122 countries and territories.

Tickets start at $21 and are available at through Ticketmaster locations, the FedExForum box office, by phone at 800-745-3000 and at harlemglobetrotters.com.

– Don Wade

Visible Music College Introduces Music Week

This summer, Visible Music College is introducing Visible Music Week – a weeklong program for students in middle school and above that will be held at Visible’s Memphis and Chicago campuses.

Over four weeklong sessions, Visible Music Week will offer training in vocals, drums, bass, guitar and keyboard, seminars in worship leading, music production, music business and a snapshot of the student experience at Visible.

Application deadlines will be announced soon. Among other benefits, participants will get to record at Madison Line Records and stay in student housing.

Memphis’ Visible Music Week is June 15-21 for middle school students; June 22-28 for high school students; and July 13-19 for a 16-and-older group.

– Andy Meek

Unemployment Benefit Claims Drop to 330,000

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 15,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 330,000, signaling fewer layoffs and steady job growth.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average dropped 9,750 to 349,000.

A Labor spokesman said there was no indication that snow and freezing weather around much of the country caused the drop in applications.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They appear to have stabilized near pre-recession levels after a period of volatility around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. That suggests recent job gains will continue.

"The underlying trend is encouraging and supports the view that job creation is picking up momentum," said Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said in a separate report that the number of announced job cuts fell 3 percent last year to 509,051. That's the fewest layoffs reported by the firm since 1997.

The decline in layoffs has coinciding with stronger hiring. Employers have added an average of 200,000 jobs a month from August through November. That's helped lower the unemployment rate to a five-year low of 7 percent.

The government will release the December jobs report on Friday.

– The Associated Press

30-Year Mortgage Rate Hovers at 4.51 Percent

Average U.S. rates for fixed mortgages barely changed this week, hovering near historically low levels.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average for the 30-year loan slipped to 4.51 percent from 4.53 percent last week. The average for the 15-year loan edged up to 3.56 percent from 3.55 percent.

Mortgage rates have risen more than a full percentage point since hitting record lows a year ago. The increase was driven by speculation that the Federal Reserve would reduce its $85 billion a month in bond purchases.

Last month, the Fed determined the economy was strong enough to start cutting those monthly purchases by $10 billion. The bond purchases have kept long-term interest rates low.

The rise in mortgage rates has slowed home sales, which have fallen for three straight months.

But overall, 2013 represented the best year for the housing market since the financial crisis. Sales of existing homes should reach 5.1 million for last year, the National Association of Realtors forecasts. That would be up 10 percent from the previous year and the most since 2006. It's still below the 5.5 million generally associated with healthy housing markets.

– The Associated Press

Mississippi Schools Ranked Lowest in Achievement

Despite strong state standards, Mississippi students are not catching up to the rest of the nation, ranking last in a school performance evaluation released Thursday.

Education Week's Quality Counts report puts Mississippi 51st among the states and Washington, D.C., in K-12 student achievement. That is actually down a notch from last year. Only Mississippi and D.C. were graded "F'' in student achievement. Massachusetts and Maryland, the two top states, each earned a "B'' grade from the education newspaper.

Mississippi also ranked among the lowest 10 states in providing young people a chance for success in life, financing schools and improving teaching. The state ranked somewhat higher on how well K-12 connects to preschool, college and kindergarten, and ranked 10th for standards.

Education Week did not issue overall grades to states in 2014 report, unlike in previous years.

Mississippi's best ranking, as has been the case for several years, was in the area of standards, where the state got an "A'' and ranked 10th.

The state's math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress outstripped growth nationwide over the last 10 years, with the state ranking ninth in gains among eighth-graders and 21st in gains among fourth graders. But even after those gains, only 26 percent of fourth-graders scored proficient in math while only 21 percent of eighth-graders scored proficient.

Reading gains have lagged. Eighth-graders actually scored worse in reading in 2013 than in 2003, while improvements in fourth-grade reading lagged the national average.

– The Associated Press

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