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VOL. 129 | NO. 47 | Monday, March 10, 2014

Daily Digest

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Firestone Files Permit For Germantown Store

Firestone Complete Auto Care has filed a $1.3 million permit application with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement for a new retail store at 9461 Poplar Ave. in Germantown.

Firestone, a subsidiary of Nashville-based Bridgestone Americas Inc., will bring a 7,983-square-foot automobile repair shop to the one-acre parcel on the south side of Poplar (referred to as U.S. 72 in the permit) just west of where it meets Old Poplar Pike.

The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2013 appraisal of the vacant parcel is $694,000. SMBC Leasing and Finance Inc., in care of Bridgestone Americas, owns the parcel, having purchased it for $900,000 in December from Paragon National Bank.

Hart Construction LLC (dba Hart Contractors LLC) of Searcy, Ark., is listed on the permit as the contractor; no architect is listed.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

Victory University To Close in May

For the 1,879 student at Victory University, the last day of the spring semester, May 2, will also be the end of the 73-year-old institution that began as Mid-South Bible College.

University officials announced abruptly last week that the university will close at the end of the spring semester because of financial problems.

Victory was known as Crichton College before being bought and rebranded in 2009 by Significant Education LLC of Solana Beach, Calif., which made Victory a private, for-profit institution of higher learning.

With the name change, Victory went from a Bible college to becoming a Christian liberal arts college.

– Bill Dries

Tennessee Startup Program Accepting Applications

The Blackstone Specialist Program presented by The Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Launch Tennessee has started accepting applications.

The program is looking for talent from across the country to come to Tennessee to be “specialists” in the state’s network of nine regional startup accelerators. The specialists will either work directly with an accelerator’s executive director on business planning, early-stage financing, marketing, event planning and other strategic focuses, or be paired with one or more startups in the program.

Specialists will get a $2,000 stipend from Launch Tennessee along with other benefits.

Current college students and recent graduates can apply for the program at launchtn.org/specialist-program, and applications are due May 9.

Specialists could snag places in upcoming startup programs around the state, including those in Memphis.

– Andy Meek

Hardaway Selected For National High School Hall

Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, who went on to star on the University of Memphis basketball team and in the NBA, will be inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame July 2.

Hardaway is the first athlete from Tennessee to be selected for the honor. Hardaway ended his career at Treadwell High School with a total of 3,039 points, averaging 32.2 points per game during his junior year. He scored 1,289 points in one season, a record that still stands.

After college, Hardaway played 15 years in the NBA and won a gold medal in the 1996 summer Olympics.

– Don Wade

Arkansas Lawmakers Advance $5 Billion Budget Bill

Arkansas’ public schools would receive the largest funding increase and the state’s reserve fund would get $19 million under a $5 billion budget plan that lawmakers advanced Friday.

The Joint Budget Committee endorsed the state’s budget bill, formally known as the proposed Revenue Stabilization Act, as they neared the end of this year’s legislative session. The House and Senate are expected to vote on identical versions of the measure this week before wrapping up the session.

The legislation largely mirrors the budget proposal Gov. Mike Beebe presented in January, calling for a $108 million increase in state spending over the next fiscal year. Public schools are set to receive the largest increase, with $65 million addition funding proposed.

Beebe said the Legislature’s reauthorization of the state’s compromise Medicaid expansion plan made budget talks with legislative leaders much easier. Beebe, who signed the reauthorization measure into law Friday, said ending the “private option” would have led to severe cuts in the budget.

Beebe said he had prepared an alternative budget in case the Legislature didn’t approve the expansion plan.

“It was going to be very painful,” the governor told reporters. “Once the private option was approved, you could proceed along the lines of the original budget, which is what they did.”

One of the changes lawmakers made from Beebe’s original proposal was to increase the amount set aside in the state’s “rainy day fund.” Beebe proposed $10 million for the fund, but the legislation would allocate $19 million to it.

– The Associated Press

Miss. Lawmakers Work On Medical Clinic Subsidies

The Mississippi House and Senate will attempt to work out their differences on a proposal to expand state subsidies to health clinics.

The efforts, proposed by Gov. Phil Bryant, are meant as a partial alternative to expanding the Medicaid insurance program for poorer people.

The House passed an amended version of Senate Bill 2117 Thursday. House Public Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Sam Mims, R-McComb, said the two chambers will confer to work out differences.

Under the health care overhaul President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010, states may provide Medicaid to people making as much as 138 percent of the federal poverty level, about $15,000 a year for one person. In Mississippi now, the income cutoff is about $5,500 for one person, and many able-bodied adults are not eligible for Medicaid coverage regardless of how little they earn.

Mississippi is among about two dozen states that have rejected the expansion. Bryant and Republican leaders of the Mississippi House and Senate say they don’t trust promises of federal funding and Mississippi can’t afford possible future costs. Part of Bryant’s alternative is to give money to health clinics.

“These clinics successfully help patients manage and control chronic illnesses, and they are adept at achieving cost savings through quality monitoring,” Bryant’s budget proposal stated.

– The Associated Press

US Trade Deficit Rose To $39.1 Billion in January

The U.S. trade deficit widened slightly in January as a rise in imports of oil and other foreign goods offset a solid increase in exports.

The trade deficit increased to $39.1 billion, up 0.3 percent from December’s revised $39 billion deficit, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

Exports climbed 0.6 percent to $192.8 billion, led by increased sales of U.S.-made machinery, aircraft and medical equipment. Imports also rose 0.6 percent to $231.6 billion, reflecting a 9 percent jump in imports of petroleum. Imports of food and machinery also rose.

The trade deficit is the difference between imports and exports. A higher trade deficit acts as a drag on economic growth because it means U.S. companies are making less overseas then their foreign competitors are earning in U.S. sales.

Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, said the January trade report suggests the deficit will remain on a gradual downward trend this year, reflecting a shrinking U.S. energy deficit.

In 2013, the trade deficit dropped 11.2 percent to $474.9 billion, providing a small boost to overall growth. Economists believe that trade will contribute to growth again this year but only by a modest amount. They are forecasting that U.S. exports will keep rising, but that this will be offset somewhat by gains in imports as a stronger U.S. and higher consumer spending attracts more foreign goods.

In the October-December quarter, the economy grew at an annual rate of 2.4 percent and a full percentage point of that growth came from a shrinking trade deficit. For the whole year, the falling trade deficit contributed a smaller 0.1 percentage point to growth.

One bright spot for trade: America’s increased energy production is expected to continue. A domestic energy boom has boosted exports and reduced America’s dependence on foreign oil.

– The Associated Press

PROPERTY SALES 56 56 9,658
MORTGAGES 49 49 10,665
BUILDING PERMITS 212 212 21,170
BANKRUPTCIES 49 49 6,157