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VOL. 7 | NO. 47 | Saturday, November 15, 2014

Daily Digest

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Expedient Data Centers Expands Into Memphis

Expedient Data Centers, a leading provider of cloud computing and other related services, is expanding into the Memphis market.

The company is getting its latest state-of-the-art data center ready to open by July 1 at 3180 Players Lane, close to the TPC Southwind Golf Course and FedEx headquarters. That will be Expedient’s first data center in Tennessee and the 11th facility Expedient operates across seven markets.

Expedient serves a mix of local and national companies who decide to host critical business computing systems and related applications in secure, purpose-built redundant facilities. Once the Memphis facility is up and running it will include about 7,500 square feet of raised flood computing space with a total of 35,000 square feet available in the building.

Milhaus Seeks Building Permit for Highland Row

Indianapolis-based developer Milhaus Ventures has applied for another building permit for the long-awaited Highland Row project near the University of Memphis.

The company has applied for a $6.75 million building permit through the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement for construction of a four-story apartment building at 387 S. Highland St., the first piece in the $61 million Highland Row project. In October, Milhous applied for a $20 million permit for the project.

The mixed-use Highland Row development will include 354 apartments, 35 townhomes, a parking garage and 26,000 square feet of retail space. Memphis-based Poag Shopping Centers originally planned to develop Highland Row, but those plans were shelved following the recession.

Wharton: Re-Election Campaign is Definite

In an email to potential supporters this week, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. says his re-election plans are definite and he is "running to win."

The email comes after Wharton's campaign sent out invitations late last month to a Nov. 17 fundraiser at the Memphis Botanic Garden.

Wharton has said several times in the last year that he would seek a second full four-year term of office. He has also faced an increasingly critical City Council in that time as well as some less public criticism in some quarters of the city's business community.

The criticism on both fronts has led to speculation that Wharton might not seek re-election.

The email this week seems to commit Wharton to a race that is beginning to form now that the last election of 2014 is complete.

Former Shelby County Commission chairman James Harvey held his first fundraiser the day after the Nov. 4 election day. Memphis City Council member Harold Collins is in the exploratory phase of weighing a bid for mayor.

Former council member and state Rep. Carol Chumney, who has run for Memphis mayor as well as Shelby County mayor is also a potential candidate.

Wharton was elected Memphis mayor in 2009 following the resignation of Mayor Willie Herenton. He ran for a full four-year term in 2011 and won.

Hispanic Professionals Group Shuts Down

The board of the Memphis Chapter of the National Hispanic Professional Organization has decided to close the group’s doors.

According to an email sent by Ignacio Vincentelli, the decision comes after “experiencing some hardship within the past few months due to circumstances beyond our control.”

“We feel extremely proud of what this chapter has been able to achieve in Memphis for the past five years,” Vincentelli wrote. “We have offered our members almost 100 top quality luncheons with outstanding speakers and presenters. We have conducted for four years a fantastic leadership institute (last - and best - session took place last month). (We’ve) done galas and receptions. And, most importantly, we have worked with all of you, as friends, to open opportunities to the Hispanic/Latino professional community in Memphis.”

The board of the NHPO Memphis chapter has approved issuing reimbursements to anyone who has paid for their membership since July 1.

Start Co. Teams Score $387,000 in Funding

Four teams that recently graduated from Start Co. have secured funding, collectively totaling $387,000.

The teams are Cabsolutely, eDivv, Graph Story and Pickle.

The new funding brings the total 2014 investment in Start Co. teams to more than $1.4 million.

Cabsolutely, a cloud-based dispatch platform for taxi cab companies, got $75,000. eDivv, an online marketplace for trading beauty products, scored $242,000. The final two, Graph Story and Pickle, landed $50,000 and $20,000, respectively.

Graph Story is a graph database-as-a-service offering for small and medium businesses, and Pickle is a platform for brand engagement via user-generated “selfies.”

Memphis Health Facility Gets More Than $1.5M

A health care facility in Memphis is getting more than $1.5 million in federal funds to help train more primary care doctors and increase access to health care services.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen announced the award to Christ Community Health Services last week.

The funding is available through the federal Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education grant program, which was created as part of President Barack Obama's health care law.

Christ Community Health Services was started in 1995.

Through strategically placed health care centers and outreach programs, the group provides high-quality health care and other services to thousands of patients, caregivers, students and families each year.

Former State Rep. Emmitt Ford Dies

Former state Rep. Emmitt Ford has died in Memphis at age 70, a relative said Tuesday.

Memphis City Council member Edmund Ford Jr. said his uncle passed away Monday night at Methodist Hospital after battling an illness.

Emmitt Ford was elected to the state Legislature in 1974 and served until 1981. He resigned when he was convicted and sentenced to prison on insurance fraud charges. He was a member of Tennessee's politically prominent Ford family, which includes former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Sr., who was his brother.

Edmund Ford Jr. called his uncle a great family man. State Rep. John DeBerry, a Memphis Democrat and minister, said he often interacted with Emmitt Ford and the Ford family when conducting funeral services at his church.

"He was always a congenial person. He gave a whole lot to the city of Memphis," DeBerry said. "I think ultimately, all of us will be judged by the totality of our actions, our character."

Funeral arrangements have not been set.

Marlo Thomas Getting Medal of Freedom

Marlo Thomas, who serves as national outreach director for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, is getting a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The White House on Monday announced the names of 19 recipients getting the award, which is the nation’s highest civilian honor presented to “individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

The awards will be presented during a ceremony at the White House Nov. 24.

From a White House biography of Thomas: She’s “an award-winning actress, producer, best-selling author and social activist. Whether championing equality for girls and women, giving voice to the less fortunate, breaking barriers by portraying one of television’s first single working women on 'That Girl,' or teaching children to be 'Free to Be You and Me,' Thomas inspires us all to dream bigger and reach higher.”

Other recipients of the award later this month will include singer Stevie Wonder and actress Meryl Streep.

Curated Holiday Market Planned for December

A new curated holiday market will launch in December.

The Memphis Indie Holiday Market, hosted by Muddy's Grind House, is scheduled for Dec. 13 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Grind House patio in Cooper-Young.

The one-stop shop of artists, designers and makers is presented by Paper & Clay and Hoot + Louise, and sponsored by Caramelized food blog and new retail concept City & State.

The market is one of the only curated shows in town this holiday season and the only one curated by an artist outside of Memphis, Emily Reinhardt of The Object Enthusiast.

The vendor lineup includes Amelia, Amy Hartelust Fine Art, Batch Memphis, Dear Sir Paper Co., Don't Blink, EE Soap Co., Flo's, The Henny Penny Mobile Boutique, Henri Rose, Johnson Benjamin, Little Things Studio, M. Russell Art, Mary Claire White Candle Co., Memphis Mean Time, Memphis Type History, Muddy's Bake Shop, Paper & Clay, Prim Society, Question the Answer, Red Velvet Vintage, Shotwell Candy Co. and Hoot + Louise.

In addition, sponsors Caramelized and City & State will have booths.

Vendors will enjoy perks that include vendor bags, discounts and coupons, expert advice on event setup and holiday retail, and more.

Visit facebook.com/memphisindieholidaymarket for more information, updates and vendor spotlights.

Estates at River Pointe Owner Files $31.2M Loan

The owner of the Estates at River Pointe apartment complex on Mud Island has taken out a $31.2 million loan on the property.

Knickerbocker Properties XXXIX, an affiliate of New York-based Sentinel Real Estate Corp., filed the multifamily deed of trust, assignment of leases and rents, security agreement and fixture filing Oct. 30 through Berkeley Point Capital LLC.

The 400-unit, Class A multifamily complex is under a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) program through the Center City Revenue Finance Corp.

George Tietjen, senior vice president of Sentinel Real Estate, signed the trust deed on behalf of Knickerbocker Properties.

Last year, Knickerbocker Properties XXXIX also filed a loan on the nearby Belle Harbour Apartments on Mud Island with Berkeley Point Capital.

Paragon Bank Accepting Donations for Food Drive

Paragon Bank is accepting donations for the 7th Annual Mid-South Food Bank Student Food Drive at its four banking centers throughout the month of November.

Donations of nonperishable food items can be made between now and Nov. 28 at Paragon’s banking centers at Paragon Place, 6300 Poplar Ave.; Fountain Place; 5400 Poplar Ave.; Saddle Creek, 7600 Poplar Ave.; and Grove Park, 4515 Poplar Ave.

The Student Food Drive is a food drive conducted by Memphis-area high school students to benefit the Mid-South Food Bank. In 2013, Paragon collected more than $14,500 in monetary donations and more than 1,400 pounds of food, which equated to 44,463 meals donated to families in need through the Mid-South Food Bank.

Economic Commissioner Leaving for Private Sector

Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty is leaving the administration to return to the private sector, Gov. Bill Haslam announced Wednesday.

The Republican governor didn't say exactly what Hagerty will be doing, even though the commissioner's name has surfaced as a possible gubernatorial candidate in 2018.

Haslam lauded Hagerty's recruitment efforts in helping Tennessee be recognized as the State of the Year in economic development. Just last month, it was recognized as the nation's No. 1 state for job commitments through foreign direct investment.

"Our goal has been to make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the southeast for high-quality jobs, and Bill has been key to the successes we've had in attracting new investment into the state, as well as continued growth of our existing businesses," the governor said.

Haslam said that under Hagerty's leadership, the Tennessee Film, Entertainment and Music Commission worked closely with the entertainment industry and Legislature to retool the state's film industry incentives to simplify and broaden access.

The repositioning resulted in the recruitment of the ABC hit television series "Nashville," which airs in more than 50 countries.

Website Will Allow Review of Academic Standards

Gov. Bill Haslam has unveiled a website where Tennesseans can review and comment on the state's current K-12 academic standards.

The standards set grade-specific goals that define what students are expected to know and be able to do by the end of a given grade or course.

Last month, Haslam laid out a process for a public review of the standards in English and math following an education summit that he co-hosted with the speakers of the House and Senate.

Academic standards are typically reviewed in Tennessee every six years. The current standards are now in their fourth year.

However, with discussion in Tennessee and across the country about Common Core state standards, Haslam said it's time to take a fresh look.

The website is: https://apps.tn.gov/tcas.

Ole Miss to Play in Jack Jones Classic

Division I college basketball returns to Southaven as Ole Miss plays Southeast Missouri State in the inaugural Jack Jones Classic Dec. 22 at the Landers Center. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

Area basketball fans will recognize many of the names on each roster. Coach Andy Kennedy and the Rebels have two Memphis players: Marcanvis Hymon (Whitehaven) and Martavious Newby (Booker T. Washington).

SEMO and coach Dickey Nutt counter with five Memphians on the roster, four of whom combined for 82 starts last year: Jarekious Bradley (East, 25 starts last season), Antonius Cleveland (Germantown, 21 starts), Ladarius Coleman (White Station), Darrian Gray (Southwind, 15 starts) and Nino Johnson (White Station, 21 starts).

Ole Miss finished the 2013-2014 campaign 19-14 while SEMO ended the season 18-14.

Tickets may be purchased online at jackjonesclassic.com or at Platinum Jewelers in Memphis, 545 Perkins Roads Extended. Admission starts at $15.

The event supports the Big Buddy Program. The nonprofit Youth Athletic Foundation is sending underprivileged youth from the Mid-South area to this game as a part of the program. Companies interested in participating with the Big Buddy Program can contact Scott Robinson at 317-490-5948 or eliteeventsunlimited@yahoo.com.

Memphis Sees Lowest Gas Prices in US

A national survey of gas prices reports that the average cost of U.S. regular grade gas dropped 13 cents per gallon in the last two weeks – and Memphis was ranked as having the cheapest gas in the Lower 48 states, at $2.65 per gallon.

Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday that the national average for regular grade gas is $2.94 per gallon, while midgrade averages $3.18 and premium $3.34. Retail diesel averages $3.64.

Lundberg said the price has dropped 78 cents per gallon since its peak in May.

She said the drop has been driven by a decrease in the price of crude oil. She forecasts that will come to an end now unless oil prices drop further.

In the Lower 48 states, San Francisco had the highest average price at $3.27 per gallon.

Whitehaven Apartments Sell for $1.9 Million

RML Development Inc. has sold two Whitehaven apartment complexes totaling 196 units to SPCP Group III CNI 1 LLC for $1.9 million as part of bankruptcy, according to a Nov. 9 special warranty deed. The company bought both Class D complexes in 2005 for a combined $1.9 million.

One property, 2146 E. Shelby Drive, is a 124-unit complex situated on 4.6 acres on the north side of East Shelby between Boeingshire Drive and Airways Boulevard. The other, 742 E. Raines Road, is a 72-unit complex on 4.2 acres on the north side of East Raines east of Orleans Road.

The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s combined 2014 appraisal is $1.1 million.

In 2012, RML Development, which lists a residential address in Southeast New York, filed a $2.2 million loan on the apartment complexes through SPCP Group III CNI 1 LLC.

Econo Lodge Sells for $1.4 Million

An Econo Lodge Inn and Suites has sold for $1.4 million.

Vasant G. Patel sold the hotel at 6045 Macon Cove to Jaiamba of Memphis LLC, according to an Oct. 30 warranty deed.

Located at the southwest corner of Macon Cove and McRee Road, the 19,547-square-foot hotel was built in 1994 and sits on about half an acre. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2014 appraisal is $1.1 million.

Report Reveals Signs of Tenn. Economic Growth

A new state report reveals signs of economic growth in Tennessee.

More new businesses filed paperwork to register with the Secretary of State's office during the third quarter of this year, compared with the previous quarter.

That's according to the office's latest quarterly report on business and economic indicators.

The report was produced jointly by the Secretary of State's office and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville's Center for Business and Economic Research.

Statewide, there were more than 7,800 business entity initial filings with the office during the third quarter of this year, an increase of 4 percent over last quarter.

The report also showed a 4.1 percent increase in Tennesseans' personal income for the year-to-date and a 4.7 percent increase in total tax revenue collections for the quarter.

Tenn. Hospital Association Partners in Insurance Push

The Tennessee Hospital Association is partnering with Enroll America, a national organization providing enrollment support for insurance coverage through the federal insurance marketplace, and its Get Covered America campaign in Tennessee.

This marks the second year THA has collaborated with Enroll America to support enrollment efforts in Tennessee’s hospitals and communities.

With the open enrollment period for coverage through the federal marketplace starting Nov. 15, Tennessee’s hospitals once again will work with patients and the wider community to increase awareness of coverage options and encourage enrollment. This work is supported largely through Enroll America’s field staff, partners and volunteers across the state.

The open enrollment period runs from Nov. 15 through Feb. 15 for those initiating new insurance plans. Individuals who already have coverage through the federal marketplace have until the February deadline to make changes to their existing plans or inform their insurance carriers they would like to renew.

Consumers can find out more information about the marketplace by calling 844-644-5443 or visiting GetCoveredTenn.org.

Tenn. Task Force Unveils Veterans Education Report

A report by the Governor's Veterans Education Task Force outlines ways to improve higher education opportunities for Tennessee veterans.

The group was formed a year ago and is charged with identifying hurdles for transitioning veterans, researching best practices to serve student veterans and making recommendations on improving opportunities for veterans to earn a post-secondary degree or certificate.

"These are people who put their lives on hold, and their lives on the line for all of us, so why would we not want to help them further succeed?" said Many-Bears Grinder, who serves as commissioner of the state Department of Veterans Affairs and on the task force. "We don't want our veterans to just to get a job," said Grinder. "We want to see them in quality careers because they have so much to offer."

According to a news release from the governor's office, recommendations made by the panel include statewide training for campus leaders on veteran education practices, and the creation of a comprehensive veteran education web portal.

Planning on the statewide training initiative and web-portal are to start immediately.

The task force is scheduled to begin working with stakeholders from the state Department of Veterans Affairs and higher education officials in the coming months to begin implementing the recommendations.

Austin Peay, which already has several students connected to the military, will host the first Veterans Training Academy next year, according to WTVF-TV.

US Companies Hire at Fastest Pace in 7 Years

U.S. companies ramped up hiring in September, and more Americans were confident enough to quit their jobs – two signs of a steadily improving economy. The number of available jobs declined but remained at a healthy level.

More than 5 million people were hired in September, the most since December 2007 when the recession began, the Labor Department said Thursday. And the number of people who quit their jobs jumped to 2.75 million from 2.5 million. That's the most in more than six years.

More quitting and hiring means that the job market is becoming more dynamic, which creates additional opportunities for the unemployed. Greater quitting is a good sign for several reasons: People are more likely to leave jobs when they have a new position lined up, usually one that is higher-paying. Workers also quit when they are more confident they can find a new job. And quits open more positions that can be filled by those out of work, or by people seeking higher pay.

Job openings fell to 4.7 million from 4.9 million in August. Still, August's figure was the highest in nearly 14 years, and September's figure remains strong.

Kellogg Facility Planned in Jackson

Economic development officials in Jackson have approved tax incentives for a Kellogg's facility planned in the West Tennessee city.

The Jackson Sun reports that the company expects to employ 100 people when construction on the 1.2 million-square-foot facility is completed.

Kris Charles, Kellogg Company spokesperson, said the facility would complement Kellogg's existing plant in Jackson where Pringles are made.

Incentives approved by Industrial Development Board of the City of Jackson allow a portion of taxes to be abated for eight years.

Jackson attorney Larry Butler said officials worked on the project for several months.

Former Sen. Campfield Empties Senate Account

Before leaving office, former Sen. Stacey Campfield drained a taxpayer-funded account by sending a farewell letter to constituents and transferring funds to three other senators.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports Campfield spent $2,248 on the letter to 7th District residents and records show he split $1,000 between three Republican senators.

The letter begins by thanking constituents "for the great privilege of serving you," goes on to "share some thoughts and triumphs with you" and then outlines "some of my personal highlights" while in office.

Under rules for "constituent communications" accounts, if Campfield hadn't spent the money it would have gone to Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs, who defeated Campfield in the primary. Briggs won the seat on Nov. 4 by defeating Democrat Cheri Siler.

A state law provides the accounts so that lawmakers can mail materials to constituents. Campfield left $15.39 in the account for Briggs, but he, like all state senators, will get $6,832 each year for the account, and that begins immediately.

Macy's Lowers Outlook Before Holiday Discounts

Macy's cut its profit outlook after a sales shortfall in its latest quarter, suggesting that shoppers can expect another discount-laden holiday shopping season.

Still, the department store's third-quarter earnings beat Wall Street's estimate, and shares rose.

Macy's, a standout among its peers throughout the economic recovery, is the first of the major retailers to report third-quarter results. How much shoppers spent during the period, which runs from August through October, hints at how much they'll be buying during the upcoming holiday shopping season.

While gas prices are low and unemployment has dropped, retailers are still contending with shoppers' stagnant wages. And consumers are spending money on health care, gadgets and cars instead of fashion.

"We have found that we are not immune to the weaker-than-anticipated consumer spending," Karen Hoguet, Macy's chief financial officer, told analysts.

Wal-Mart Sales Perk Up Ahead of Holiday

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. eked out a rare gain in an important sales measurement during the third quarter as it reported profits that beat Wall Street expectations Thursday.

But the world's largest retailer issued a fourth-quarter profit outlook that missed Wall Street expectations because of expected fierce holiday discounting. The quarter also marked two full years of traffic declines at U.S. Wal-Mart stores.

Macy's, J.C. Penney and Kohl's all reported results this week that show middle-income shoppers remain cautious heading into the holiday shopping season.

Wal-Mart itself is a barometer of consumer spending, and its challenges reflect the struggles of its low-income shoppers, who are being squeezed by stagnant wages and reduced government food stamps. But Wal-Mart sees potential help: Lower gas prices that could put more money into shoppers' pockets.

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