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VOL. 129 | NO. 210 | Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Daily Digest

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Farrell-Calhoun Applies for $2 Million Building Permit

Farrell-Calhoun Paint Inc. has applied for a $2 million building permit for its Downtown Memphis warehouse.

The family-owned, Memphis-based paint company applied for the building permit through the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement for its warehouse at 710 S. Third St. The application said the permit was needed for “modifications and renovation to existing warehouse.”

The nearly 100,000-square-foot building was built on 4.6 acres in 1948. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2014 appraisal is $200,000.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports
– Amos Maki

Start Co. Planning Startup Weekend

The Start Co. organization in Memphis is hosting a Startup Weekend Nov. 7-9 at its Downtown office.

Startup Weekends are part of an international series of events facilitated by UPGlobal, a nonprofit focused on fostering entrepreneurship in 500 cities around the world. The event in Memphis will be female-centric, focused on showcasing the talents of female entrepreneurs, but both men and women are encouraged to come together for the event.

The event – registration for which is available at www.neverstop.co/startupweekend – is only taking place in 20 cities, including Memphis. That’s because of the city’s track record in supporting the growth of women-led startups, organizers say.

– Andy Meek

Ramirez Named Shelby County Schools Chief Academic Officer

Heidi Ramirez, the former chief academic officer for Milwaukee Public Schools, is the new chief academic officer for Shelby County Schools.

Ramirez was selected by superintendent Dorsey Hopson and takes the position Nov. 17.

Filling the chief academic officer’s position has been a priority for Hopson since the departure of Roderick Richmond at the end of June. Hopson put off the appointment as he restructured the roles of deputy superintendents this summer.

Ramirez has been an education consultant for about a year. Before that she was chief academic officer in Milwaukee for two years.

Before the posting in Milwaukee, she was associate dean of Temple University’s College of Education in Philadelphia and founding director of Temple’s Urban Education Collaborative for five years and five months.

Ramirez has a master’s degree in education administration from Harvard University and a master’s degree in sociology and a Ph.D. in education from Stanford University.

– Bill Dries

Tigers Homecoming to Air on ESPNU Oct. 31 

The University of Memphis’ football homecoming game this Friday, Oct. 31, kicks off at 7 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU. The Tigers, who are playing Tulsa at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, are 4-3 overall, 2-1 in the American Athletic Conference, after beating SMU last Saturday.

Homecoming events Friday start with the Tiger Walk at 4:30 p.m. Other events at Tiger Lane include a concert by former Poison front man Bret Michaels at 5 p.m., trick-or-treating from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., costume contest with Pouncer at 6 p.m. and pre-game pep rally at 6:15 p.m.

Fans will be permitted to wear costumes inside the Liberty Bowl for the game, but will be asked to remove masks when entering the stadium and walking the concourse.

Advanced tickets for the game start at $10. The True Blue Tailgate, which includes food and beverages in the center of Tiger Lane, is also $10 per person. Visit gotigersgo.com.

– Don Wade

University of Memphis Weighing Minimum Wage

The University of Memphis is considering paying a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour and stepping into a national debate over how much workers should make for their efforts.

University President M. David Rudd told employees in an email last week that he's asked the state Board of Regents to raise base pay for the school's workers up from $8.75 an hour.

For more than three years, unions and social activists have called for sharply higher minimum pay at U of M and other employers throughout the city. But wages have only slowly climbed.

U of M went ahead with a request for higher pay after paring spending in its tight budget.

Memphis labor leader Tom Smith told The Commercial Appeal the 15.4 percent increase would apply to about 125 employees at the city's largest university.

"This is an extremely welcome move," said Smith, lead organizer in Memphis for United Campus Workers-Communication Workers of America Local 3865.

Rudd's email singled out efficiencies in the university for opening way for the raises. Higher wages could cost U of M about $350,000 next year, according to one estimate.

"For the past several months, we have been evaluating employee salaries and looking for ways to create an affordable living wage for our lowest paid employees," Rudd's email says. "While we can all agree that we have experienced challenging times, thanks to your hard work and dedication we have made great progress in creating efficiencies and positioning the University for continued growth."

In 2011, Local 3865 and the Memphis religious group Workers Interfaith Network began urging then-U of M president Shirley Raines to increase the college's minimum wage. Raines retired in 2013. By then the university was embroiled in budget issues Rudd inherited when he took over this year. A steep drop in enrollment had created a $20 million gap in U of M's $478 million annual budget.

– The Associated Press

Judge OKs Auction for Crittenden Hospital Assets

A federal bankruptcy judge has signed off on hiring an auctioneer to sell some assets of the Crittenden Regional Hospital.

The Crittenden Hospital Association filed for bankruptcy last month, reporting $33.3 million in debts and $27.75 million in assets. The bankruptcy filing came after voters approved a special sales tax increase to fund hospital operations, but officials said that wouldn't be enough to keep the hospital afloat.

The state says the tax won't be collected.

According to Arkansas Business, assets heading for the auction block include a clinic, women's center and dental office building in West Memphis and another clinic in Marked Tree. No date has been set for the auction.

– The Associated Press

US Pending Home Sales Rise Slightly in September

The number of Americans signing contracts to buy homes ticked up only slightly in September, as it remained difficult to qualify for mortgage financing.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index rose 0.3 percent over the past month to 105. The index remains half a percentage point below its 2013 average, although 1 percent higher than a year ago.

Tight credit and price increases through the middle of 2013 have limited buying activity. About 15 percent of the real estate agents surveyed for the index said they couldn't close a deal because the buyer was unable to obtain a mortgage.

"We continue to see steady, albeit modest, improvement in this sector," said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases. A one- to two-month lag usually exists between a contract and a completed sale. The number of contract signings increased in the Northeast, South and West last month, while declining in the Midwest.

Federal regulators approved plans last week to expand the availability of credit. Five agencies – including the Federal Reserve and the Securities and Exchange Commission – backed changes to the rules on how much risk banks can accept when they package and sell mortgage securities in a multitrillion-dollar market.

The modified rules should enable buyers to put less money down on a home. Regulators ended the requirement that borrowers make a 20 percent down payment if the lending bank didn't hold at least 5 percent of the mortgage securities tied on its books.

Additionally, average mortgage rates have fallen for the past five weeks. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage tumbled last week to 3.92 percent, a 52-week low, according to the government-supported mortgage firm Freddie Mac.

– The Associated Press

PROPERTY SALES 61 262 16,169
MORTGAGES 28 132 10,054
BUILDING PERMITS 88 424 38,360
BANKRUPTCIES 36 92 7,564