VOL. 7 | NO. 30 | Saturday, July 19, 2014
RedRover Tweaks Name, Refreshes Logo
RedRover Sales & Market Strategy, an 8-year-old sales training and coaching, marketing and PR agency, has decided to update its brand and tweak its name.
The new logo – which includes a blend of boldfaced and regular lettering, combined with the company name in capital letters to embody strength and purpose – is part of the agency’s #RoverRefresh campaign, launched during what’s proven to be a big year of growth and expansion of service for the agency.
That campaign also includes a contest for local startup companies, which will be announced this afternoon, and there will also be social media activities that invite the public to participate in the logo launch.
Besides the logo update, the firm also has added a single word – “strategy” – to its name. CEO and founder Lori Turner-Wilson says it’s a truer reflection of where the firm is now and where it’s heading.
“This agency is hyper-focused on building strategies, grounded in research, that accomplish growth and measurable results for clients,” she said.
It’s another milestone for what began as a two-person venture in Bartlett. RedRover eventually joined the Emerge Memphis startup accelerator program and now has a 16-person staff and stable of clients in its target market of midsized businesses.
Cohen Co-Sponsors Bill On Pension Changes
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis is co-sponsoring a bill that would set a higher bar for local governments seeking to modify contracts with public employee unions as well as change benefits to local government retirees when a local government files for bankruptcy.
The bill was introduced Wednesday, July 16, in Washington by U.S. Rep. John Conyers, and Cohen is among the co-sponsors.
Cohen said, in a written statement, the legislation is necessary because of inadequacies in federal municipal bankruptcy laws that came to light with the recent bankruptcy filing of the city of Detroit.
Asics America to Expand Byhalia Footprint
Asics is expanding its central footwear and apparel distribution center inside the Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park area by 342,144 square feet.
The expansion comes on the heels of a 513,000-square-foot build-to-suit completed in 2010, and now will consolidate the footwear distribution center with the apparel distribution center, which was previously located in Southaven. Asics hopes to improve its overall efficiency by combining the two components under one roof, which will total 855,144 square feet.
The distribution center is owned and managed by Lexington Realty Trust.
CB Richard Ellis Memphis represented Asics in the expansion.
Northwest Mississippi has become the favored destination locally for industrial developers and their tenants.
In 1993, the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority authorized the creation of the Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park area, where multiple land owners joined together to create 3,600 acres of developable industrial property nestled in a triangle of major roadways.
Exel was the first company to locate a major facility in Chickasaw Trail, selecting the industrial area in 2005 for a 750,000-square-foot distribution center. In May, Roxul Inc., a Danish maker of stone or rock wool insulation, broke ground on a $160 million, 600,000-square-foot production facility.
The Volvo Group announced in May that it is building a new distribution center in Byhalia. The 1 million-square-foot distribution center, which will employ 250 people, will be located inside Panattoni Development Co.’s Gateway Global Logistics Center, a 1,500-acre industrial development that straddles Fayette County, Tenn., and Marshall County, Miss.
Tourism Department Presents New Tennessee Logo
Tennessee’s tourism agency has a new logo and ad campaign aimed to spark travelers’ interest in a vacation that can only be made in Tennessee.
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s “Made in Tennessee” campaign features original music from Tennessee musicians and highlights other unique aspects of the state.
Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker said in a news release announcing the new branding that the campaign will emphasize Tennessee’s scenic beauty, music, history and family-friendly attractions.
The campaign will include famous Tennessee residents like Dolly Parton and Jack White.
According to the department, tourism is Tennessee’s No. 2 industry, with a $16.2 billion annual economic impact.
US Unemployment Aid Applications Drop
The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits fell last week, a steady decline that suggests a strengthening job market.
Weekly applications for unemployment aid dipped 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 302,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.
The four-week average, a less volatile measure, dropped 3,000 to 309,000, the level since June 2007, about five months before the start of the Great Recession.
Applications are a proxy for layoffs, a sign that they expect economic growth to continue. When businesses are confident enough to keep staff, they are also likely to hire more people.
Hiring is at its healthiest clip since the late 1990s and the 6.1 percent unemployment rate is at a 5 1/2-year low. Employers added 288,000 jobs in June, the fifth straight month of job gains above 200,000.
The latest report on unemployment benefits “suggests another solid payroll report” with job additions in July, said Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.
Still, the steady hiring gains have yet to boost wages significantly. Wage growth has barely matched inflation since the recession ended five years ago.
But more people with jobs increases the total number of paychecks, which could boost consumer spending and growth. After a sharp contraction in the economy in the first three months of the year, most economists expect growth to return in the April-June quarter and exceed 3 percent at an annual pace in the second half of 2014.
US Home Construction Drops 9.3 Percent in June
U.S. home construction fell in June to the slowest pace in nine months, a setback to hopes that housing is regaining momentum and will boost economic growth this year.
Construction fell 9.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 893,000 homes, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That was the slowest pace since last September and followed a 7.3 percent drop in May, a decline even worse than initially reported.
Applications for building permits, considered a good indicator of future activity, were also down in June, dropping 4.2 percent to a rate of 963,000 after a 5.1 percent decline in May.
The worse-than-expected June performance reflected a big drop in activity in the South, where construction plunged by 29.6 percent last month.
Analysts, however, said that the June decline in construction may have been influenced by temporary factors such as heavy rain in parts of the South which could have held back housing starts in that region.
Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO, said it was too soon to conclude that the housing recovery has stalled. “After all, job growth continues, mortgage rates are near their lows for 2014 and homebuilder confidence has been increasing,” she said in a research note.
The overall weakness reflected a 9 percent fall in construction of single-family homes, the biggest part of the market, and a 9.9 percent drop in construction of apartments and other multi-family units.
30-Year Mortgage Rate Near Historic Low
Average U.S. mortgage rates declined slightly this week, with rates remaining near historic lows.
Mortgage company Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the nationwide average for a 30-year loan dipped to 4.13 percent, down from 4.15 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, edged down to 3.23 percent, compared with 3.24 percent last week.
Mortgage rates are below the levels of a year ago, having fallen in recent weeks after climbing last summer when the Federal Reserve began talking about reducing the monthly bond purchases it was making to keep long-term rates low.
Rates on one-year adjustable rate mortgages were 2.39 percent this week, down from 2.40 percent last week, while rates on five-year adjustable rate mortgages were 2.97 percent, down from 2.99 percent last week.
At 4.13 percent, the rate on a 30-year mortgage is down from 4.53 percent at the beginning of this year. Rates have fallen modestly even though the Fed has been trimming its monthly bond purchases. Fed Chair Janet Yellen told Congress this week that the purchases will likely end altogether at the end of October.
But at the same time, Yellen said during congressional testimony that the Fed still sees the need to keep its benchmark short-term rate at a record low near zero to give the economy support.
Council Delays Vote On Overton Square Parking
Memphis City Council members again delayed a final vote Tuesday, July 15, on an ordinance that would set up a trial parking permit zone in the Overton Square area.
The three-week delay to the Aug. 5 council meeting came after homeowners and business owners appeared to still have some differences over the plan, which would allow homeowners to set up a permit parking zone on their streets for residents only.
The process would involve a petition by residents on a certain street.
Council chairman Jim Strickland has been mediating the discussions after homeowners complained patrons of Restaurant Iris and Second Line on Monroe Avenue were parking on their streets instead of in the nearby Overton Square garage.
Moore Tech Opens Machine Shop Upgrade
Moore Tech debuted a $1 million addition to its machine shop Tuesday, July 15, that will be used for a new precision medical machining course in the fall term that begins Sept. 3.
Founded in 1939, the private nonprofit vocational college at 1200 Poplar Ave. has had precision metal machining as part of its curriculum for most of its existence. But most of those courses have used manually operated machines.
With six-figure grants from the Plough Foundation and the Assisi Foundation as well as in-kind donations from machine manufacturers Haas Automation Inc. and Fanuc America Corp., the addition to the shop includes six state-of-the-art computer numerical machines.
Germantown Has Tentative Agreement With County Schools
The city of Germantown and Shelby County Schools have reached a tentative agreement under which Germantown Elementary, Middle and High Schools would not be renamed and the county school system would be allowed to use a city-owned athletic field during the coming year.
Germantown city administrator Patrick Lawton announced the agreement Tuesday, July 15, and the city’s board of mayor and aldermen will vote on it at their Aug. 28 meeting.
“It became evident that the two parties were not going to reach an agreement, at this time, that included renaming the schools SCS will operate in Germantown,” a statement from the city reads. “To ensure that the students have access to the fields at the beginning of the school year, Lawton proposed a one-year field use agreement.”
The agreement includes a review by both parties in the spring on the future of the contract.
Germantown city leaders had pressed for the renaming of the schools, known as the 3 Gs.
Germantown Elementary, Middle and High Schools remain part of Shelby County Schools with the coming academic year as the new Germantown Municipal Schools district makes its debut with the remaining public schools within Germantown’s city limits.
Stormwater Meetings Planned in Whitehaven
The City of Memphis Division of Engineering has announced a series of neighborhood meetings focused on a stormwater master plan for Whitehaven.
The purpose of the plan is to identify potential solutions for flooding and drainage issues, and the goals of the meetings are to give people information about the project and gather input about drainage and flooding problems people have experienced.
The meetings start later this month, with one on July 29 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Raineshaven Elementary School, 430 Ivan Road. Other meetings will be held July 30 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Methodist South Hospital, 1300 Wesley Drive, and July 31 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Southwest Tennessee Community College, 3035 Directors Row, building 6.
Memphis Redbirds Begin Homestand Thursday
The Memphis Redbirds open an eight-game homestand on Thursday, July 17, and will play host to the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Triple-A Rockies) and Omaha Storm Chasers (Triple-A Royals) at AutoZone Park. The homestand includes two giveaways and a fireworks show. Game time is 7:05 p.m., and gates open an hour before then.
The Friday, July 18, game will feature a Michael Wacha bobblehead giveaway that shows the St. Louis Cardinals pitcher and 2013 NLCS MVP in his throwing motion. Fireworks will follow Saturday night’s game, which begins at 6:05 p.m.
Sunday’s game, also a 6:05 start, will feature a giveaway of 1,000 Rockey the Redbird T-shirts.
EdR Finalizes Sale Of Two Properties
Memphis-based EdR has completed the sale of two properties to separate companies for a combined $29.9 million, the company announced Wednesday, July 16.
The student housing development and management firm said the sale of Pointe West, a 480-bed community built in 2003 that is about two miles from the University of South Carolina, closed on July 1. The sale of The Reserve on South College, a 576-bed community built in 1999 that is about a half-mile from Auburn University, on July 14.
The net proceeds from these dispositions were used to pay off approximately $16.7 million of mortgage debt and to pay down the outstanding balance on EdR’s unsecured revolving credit facility.
Guidingpoint Financial Adds New Adviser
Michael Turner has joined Guidingpoint Financial Group, a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services Inc., as an adviser.
He comes to Guidingpoint after almost two decades with Charles Schwab & Co., and Turner previously was a financial adviser with Ameriprise.
Guidingpoint co-leader Brian Douglas said Turner understands the Memphis community and has “deep connections” in the market, in addition to being committed to exceptional one-on-one client service, which aligns with the firm’s culture.
Ball Seeks Correction Of Name on Ballots
Knoxville attorney Gordon Ball wants the Shelby County Election Commission to correct a misspelling of his name on Shelby County absentee ballots that include the Democratic U.S. Senate primary in which he is a candidate.
The ballot lists his name as Gordan Ball.
“Our names are important,” Ball said in a written statement Thursday. “How would Sen. Lamar Alexander feel if his name was misspelled by one letter. If Lamer Alexander were on the ballot, the senator probably wouldn’t like this anymore than I do.”
Programming Camp Coming to Bioworks
Tennessee Code Academy and Memphis Bioworks are hosting a computer programming camp Monday, July 21, to July 25.
The weeklong day camp will teach young people the basics of computer programming, plus gaming and design fundamentals, among other concepts.
Students will learn from expert mentors, programmers and industry experts throughout the week. The camp is open to youths ages 12 to 18, and 24 slots are available. Memphis Bioworks will host the camp at 20 Dudley St. from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day, and lunch will be provided. For more information, contact Tennessee Code Academy at 931-210-5105 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Electrolux Donating Air Conditioners in Memphis
As part of its Keeping Memphis Cool initiative, Electrolux is donating air conditioning units Wednesday, July 16, to assist needy Memphis individuals and families.
The donation effort is being coordinated through Neighborhood Christian Centers.
The truckload donation of air conditioners will occur Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Neighborhood Christian Center warehouse at 785 Jackson Ave.
Recipients must be prescreened, and priority will be given to households with seniors 60 and older, disabled residents, and those who have been laid off from work or are on medical leave.
Shelby County residents in need of an air conditioner should contact the Neighborhood Christian Centers hotline at 881-6013 in advance of the giveaway.
Applicants will need to have a Tennessee state ID or driver’s license, most recent pay stub or Supplemental Security Income statement, proof of medical leave and proof of layoff, such as a separation notice or unemployment statement.
Retail Sales Tick Up 0.2 Percent in June
U.S. retail sales increased slightly in June, evidence that consumers remain cautious despite steady job gains this year.
Retail sales rose just 0.2 percent last month, the Commerce Department said Tuesday, held back by a sharp drop at building and garden supply stores. Sales also fell at restaurants and at auto dealers.
The figures suggest that Americans are still reluctant to spend freely, limiting growth in the April-June quarter. While employers have stepped up hiring since January, wage growth remains weak and is barely keeping up with inflation. Retail sales are closely watched because consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the economy.
Still, economists were encouraged by some of the details in the report. A measure of retail sales that excludes volatile categories such as gasoline and autos rose at a solid 0.6 percent clip. Clothing stores, sporting goods stores and department stores all recorded decent sales gains. And a category that includes online and catalog retailers jumped 0.9 percent in June and has increased 8.1 percent in the past 12 months. That’s nearly double the 4.3 percent growth in overall retail sales in the past year.
“While the headline number for June was disappointing, there were some underlying pockets of strength,” Jim Baird, chief investment officer for Plante Moran Financial Advisors, said. “The solid advance ... across numerous retail sectors suggests that consumers are spending, but doing so selectively.”
Sales at auto and auto parts dealers fell 0.3 percent, which contradicts strong data released by the automakers themselves earlier this month. The automakers had said sales reached an eight-year high in June. The two sets of data can sometimes conflict on a month-to-month basis.
Retail sales were revised higher in May to 0.5 percent from 0.3 percent, and in April to 0.6 percent from 0.5 percent.
ServiceMaster Sponsoring New BizTown Shop
Junior Achievement of Memphis and the Mid-South Inc. has announced the newest shop in JA BizTown will be sponsored by ServiceMaster.
JA BizTown is a fully interactive simulated town facility in which students work together and put to test the lessons they learned over a four-week period using a curriculum provided by Junior Achievement. Students hold town meetings, write and execute business plans, deposit paychecks and open their own savings account that they can spend at shops within the model city.
The ServiceMaster shop, which will be unveiled this fall, will feature information about each of the ServiceMaster businesses, including Terminix, American Home Shield, ServiceMaster Restore, ServiceMaster Clean, Merry Maids, Furniture Medic and AmeriSpec.
ServiceMaster’s commitment brings JA BizTown to a total of 16 shop sponsors, with others including The Daily News, AutoZone, Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp., Chick-fil-A, the city of Memphis, Clear Channel Entertainment, FedEx, First Tennessee, International Paper, the Memphis Grizzlies, Orgill, Power & Tel, Smith & Nephew, SunTrust and Target.
For more information, visit jamemphis.org or call 366-7800.
Memphis Kicker Elliott On Groza Award Watch List
After hitting 16 of 18 field goal attempts and going 3-for-3 from beyond 50 yards as a freshman, University of Memphis kicker Jake Elliott is on the preseason Lou Groza Award watch list.
Elliott, a sophomore, is one of 30 players on the list. Each season, the Lou Groza Award goes to the nation’s top field goal kicker. The list will be cut to three finalists by late November, with the winner being announced in December.
Chef Jenn Products Coming To More Outlets, States
The “Chef Jenn” lines of frozen seafood products from Memphis chef Jennifer McCullough are being picked up by East Coast grocery store chain Harris Teeter and also by Walmart in several regions.
Walmart announced the distribution of McCullough’s products via Twitter on July 10, following a meeting she had with Walmart executives at the company’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., in recent days.
McCullough met with Harris Teeter several months ago and received her first purchase order on July 10 during a trip to New England.
Her products should begin appearing in Harris Teeter stores in August.
In related news, she also will be working with her manufacturing operators to invest in additional equipment to substantially increase production capacity.
Daily News Claims Three TPA Awards
The Daily News and The Memphis News claimed two first-place honors and one third-place honor in the 2014 University of Tennessee-Tennessee Press Association journalism awards, announced Friday, July 11.
The first-place honors were for editorials and best website among newspapers competing in Division Two of the annual competition.
The Daily News also placed third for business reporting for a portfolio of stories including several emphasis sections on specific industry sectors.