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VOL. 7 | NO. 41 | Saturday, October 4, 2014

Daily Digest

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Kroger to Renovate Southgate Store

Kroger has applied for a building permit to renovate its Southgate Shopping Center store at 1977 S. Third St. in South Memphis.

The company applied for a $100,000 building permit through the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement to make “interior alterations” to the store.

Kroger has invested a little over $50 million in the Memphis area over the last three years and will invest north of an additional $50 million over the next three years. Earlier in September, the company pulled an $11 million building permit for its new Union Avenue store in Midtown.

McNeill Seeks Permits for Germantown Office Park

A developer planning a mixed use development in Germantown has applied for two building permits for a medical office center.

McNeill Commercial Real Estate, operating as Wolf River Kimbrough Partnership, applied through the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement for two building permits totaling $2.4 million.

A 12,000-square-foot building and a 10,000-square-foot building will be built on the southeast corner of Wolf River Boulevard and Kimbrough Road.

Linkous Construction Co. is the contractor and The Reaves Firm is the engineer. The Renaissance Group is the architect.

Wolf River Kimbrough acquired the 2.7-acre site in January for $851,851 from Catherine O. Wilcheck and Agnes O. Brooks, according to the Shelby County Register of Deeds. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2014 appraisal of the site is $205,100.

Earlier in September, McNeill, operating as Neshoba Exeter Real Estate Partners, purchased two properties at the northeast corner of Neshoba Road and South Germantown Road for $6.6 million for a mixed-use project that will include condominiums, 60,000 square feet of retail space and a Hampton Inn & Suites.

Accredo Health Adding 50 Jobs in Memphis

Accredo Health Group Inc. will add dozens of jobs in Memphis by the end of 2014.

Accredo, a subsidiary of Express Scripts Holding Co. that has around 1,500 jobs locally, will add 50 new jobs at its Century Center campus in Memphis by the end of the year.

“Accredo is an important part of our business and we see an opportunity there to add some positions to help us deliver the level of service our customers expect,” said Brian Henry, vice president of corporate communications for Express Scripts.

Boston-based General Investment and Development Co., which bought the Century Center complex from Sun Life Financial in 2005, recently acquired around 12 acres of vacant land adjacent to Accredo's location near Whitten Road and Interstate 240 from Boyle Investment Co. for a new 500-space parking lot that Accredo will use.

“We purchased the property as a supplement to our existing business park out there and our immediate use is for parking,” said Rich Sullivan of General Investment and Development.

Wunderlich Acquires Assets of New York Firm

Memphis-based investment firm Wunderlich Securities Inc. is acquiring the wealth management assets of Dominick & Dominick LLC, a privately held New York-based investment firm.

After closing the deal, expected to happen early next year, the combined firm will have almost 600 associates in 32 offices across 17 states, plus more than $10 billion in client assets. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

After the acquisition, about 150 Wunderlich associates will be located in the New York area, which will become the largest concentration in Wunderlich’s footprint. The New York firm will also then operate as Dominick & Dominick, a division of Wunderlich Wealth Management, the firm’s private client group.

In a statement about the deal, Wunderlich CEO Gary Wunderlich said the deal presented an opportunity to join forces with a venerable firm that represented “an ideal fit with our growth objectives. Our firms share a common focus on building long-lasting relationships with our clients and among our colleagues, and we look forward to welcoming the team to our Wunderlich family.”

Dominick & Dominick LLC was founded in 1870. It’s based in New York City and has branches in Miami, Atlanta and Basel, Switzerland.

FedEx Donates $250,000 to Community College

Transportation company Federal Express has announced its providing $250,000 to Mid-South Community College in West Memphis.

FedEx and college officials said Tuesday that the donation will be used to support an FAA-certified Aviation Maintenance Technology training program. The college plans to build a program-specific facility to increase the number of students it can train.

The building will be named the FedEx Aviation Technology Center.

Reese Road Apartments Owner Takes Out Loan

The owner of the 76-unit Reese Road apartment complex at 2503 E. Reese Cove in Northeast Memphis has taken out a loan on the property.

A Salt Lake City entity called Countryside Village Apartments LLC, which bought the 72,772-square-foot complex in a July 29 special warranty deed from Cleburne Terrace TX Partners LLC for $3.3 million, acquired a $2.7 million loan on the property, according to a Sept. 15 multifamily deed of trust.

Built in 2001, the Class C multifamily property sits on 6.9 acres along the south side of Reese Road a little east of its intersection with Whitten Road.

The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2014 appraisal of the property is $2.5 million.

AutoZone Sued by Federal Agency

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has charged Memphis-based AutoZone in a lawsuit with violating federal law by allowing a store manager to subject several female employees to sexual harassment.

According to the suit, shortly after the manager transferred to the Cordova AutoZone store around August 2012, he began making “unwelcome lewd and offensive comments of a sexual nature and requesting sexual favors of three female employees.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says one employee complained to another store manager, but her complaint was ignored.

The suit goes on to claim that when another female employee complained to a district manager, her complaint was also ignored.

“Despite these complaints, the harassment continued for months, until one of the employees finally complained to AutoZone’s human resources office,” the EEOC said.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, alleging conduct that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

VESTA Home Show Kicks Off Oct. 4

The 2014 VESTA Home Show, presented by West Tennessee Home Builders Association, will be held at Shaw’s Creek Reserve in Piperton and will run from Saturday, Oct. 4, through Oct. 26.

Five local home builders – Kevin Yoon Construction, Taylor Brothers Construction, John Duke, Bryce Homes and Price Hays Construction – have spent the past seven months building houses in the subdivision near Tenn. 196 and Raleigh LaGrange Road.

This year, the show will focus on the lifestyle of country living in a metro area, the peace that comes with living away from a city but with access to larger areas for work, shopping and other activities.

Each home is unique, but they do follow a few common trends, such as including areas like patios and outdoor kitchens that are conducive to family gatherings and entertaining or incorporating natural elements like wood beams, brick, stone and muted earth tones in interior and exterior spaces.

Hours for the show are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. General admission tickets are $12, with seniors at $10 and youth at $5.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Fayette Cares, an interdenominational agency that works with churches, businesses, service agencies and individuals to provide aid for Fayette County residents in need.

Visit vestashow.com for more information.

Flintco Makes Memphis Leadership Promotion

Flintco LLC, a leading commercial contractor, has made a key leadership promotion in Memphis.

Tim Weatherford has been named vice president and area manager of Flintco’s Memphis office.

Weatherford has 23 years of experience in the construction industry and will be responsible for all regional functions, daily operations and long-range planning. Weatherford also plans, staffs and supervises all area office activities and monitors quality of work. He joined Flintco in 1995 and previously held the role of vice president of preconstruction services since 2005.

FedEx Shareholders Reject Proposal Over Redskins

FedEx shareholders rejected a proposal that the shipping giant end or distance itself from its ties to the Washington Redskins.

The proposal from the Oneida Indian tribe was made Monday, Sept. 29, during the company's annual shareholder meeting in Memphis.

The Redskins and companies associated with the National Football League team have come under fire from Native American groups and others who say the team's name is an offensive racial slur. FedEx sponsors the Redskins home field, FedExField, in Washington, D.C.'s Maryland suburbs.

Susan White, director of the Oneida Trust of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, said the name Redskins harkens to a time when rewards were paid for the skins of Native Americans.

“We are the only race of people dehumanized by an NFL team,” White said during the meeting.

The shareholders meeting was the second time in less than a week that the company’s sponsorship deal with the Redskins was in the spotlight.

On Sept. 25, the Osage Nation of Oklahoma said it would boycott FedEx and urged its members to use other delivery companies until FedEx ends its relationship with the team.

FedEx shareholders also rejected a proposal that would have allowed shareholders to make nominations to the company's board of directors.

Germantown Assisted Living Facility Sells for $10.7 Million

The Gardens of Germantown, an assisted living and Alzheimer’s care facility, has been sold.

The Gardens of Germantown LLC sold the facility at 3179 Professional Plaza in Germantown to SHP IV Germantown LLC for $10.7 million, according to a Sept. 29 special warranty deed.

The Gardens of Germantown LLC acquired the property in 2009 for $4.2 million.

Built in 2011, the 31,065-square-foot residential care building sits on 2.2 acres near Poplar Pike and Forest Hill Irene Road.

The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2014 appraisal is $3.5 million.

Memphis Area Sees Drop in Unemployment Rate

The unemployment rate for the metro Memphis area dipped to 8.5 percent in August, down from 9.5 percent in August 2013 and 8.8 percent in July, according to preliminary numbers from the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development.

The August unemployment rate for Shelby County was 8.9 percent, down from 9.8 percent a year ago and 8.8 percent in July. The August unemployment rate for Fayette County was 8.5 percent, the same as July but down from 9.5 percent in August 2013.

The August unemployment rate in the Arkansas portion of the metro area was 9 percent, down from 10.4 percent in July and 12 percent in August 2013.

The August unemployment rate for the Mississippi portion of the Memphis area was 6.7 percent, down from 8.4 percent in July and 7.9 percent in August 2013. At 5.3 percent, Lincoln County had the lowest unemployment rate in the state in August. Scott County had the highest unemployment rate, 13.9 percent.

Boutique Interiors Store Coming to Laurelwood

Blu D’or Interiors, a boutique furniture and accessories design studio, is opening in Laurelwood Shopping Center this week.

The store, situated between Joseph and Chico’s, will open Wednesday, Oct. 1.

To celebrate, a soft opening preview party was held Sept. 30.

A grand opening celebration is planned for Oct. 28.

Airport Pedestrian Plaza Design Wins Award

Landscape architecture firm Ritchie Smith Associates has been honored for its design of the pedestrian plaza at Memphis International Airport.

The Honor Award from the Tennessee Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects was presented this month at the group’s annual meeting in Chattanooga.

The plaza, which connects the airport terminal to the Ground Transportation Center, was once the center of the airport’s old parking deck.

It includes garden planting and a water feature as well as paving that is compatible with the natural features and landscaping.

Independent Weather Group Joins National Effort

Cirrus Weather Solutions, the umbrella organization for independent weather service MemphisWeather.net, is a new Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador, an initiative by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that works to improve the nation’s readiness against extreme weather events.

The initiative is the hub of a network of government, emergency management, media, academia, private industry and others toward making the nation responsive to the impact of extreme weather and water events.

Cirrus’ MemphisWeather.net, JacksonWeather.net, and StormWatch+ brands reach hundreds of thousands of users.

Archer-Malmo Makes Another Round of Hires

Memphis-based marketing communications agency archer-malmo has made another batch of hires.

The firm has added Mike Annear and Jason Jones to its account service team; Josh Harper, Blaine Lloyd and Drew Fleming to its creative team; and Sarah Brown, Carmen Butts, Carlee Hill, Michael DeVry, Ben Hooper and Addie McGowan to its digital team.

The agency also has made a hire, Emily Brueck, in its venture development practice, a-m ventures.

In addition to the hires, archer-malmo has promoted others. Bora Baser is now web animation lead in addition to senior digital developer; Liz Cunningham was promoted to account supervisor from senior account executive; Amanda Dent was promoted to associate creative director/copywriter from senior copywriter; Justin Dobbs to creative director from associate creative director; Emily Long to senior account executive from account executive; Dan Price to senior copywriter from copywriter; and Kong Wee Pang and Ronny Scholz to senior digital art directors from digital art directors.

Luttrell Appoints Two Division Directors

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell has appointed Dale Lane as the county’s new director of the Office of Preparedness and Martha Lott as the county’s new director of Community Services.

Lane comes to the position, which was held by Bob Nations until last week, from being chief inspector of the uniform patrol division of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

He assumes his duties Oct. 16 after being in law enforcement since 1987.

Lott replaces Dottie Jones in the Community Services post and returns to county government from being the General Services director for the city of Memphis since 2010.

Lott was grants manager with Shelby County government and also reorganized several divisions within county government during her previous nine years at the county administration building.

When Luttrell announced he would not be reappointing Jones, he indicated it was pending a reorganization of Community Services.

Lott was brought over to City Hall to reorganize the General Services division shortly after A C Wharton Jr. was first elected mayor in 2009.

Lipscomb & Pitts Retains Industry Designation

Memphis-based Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance has retained its status as part of an elite group of independent insurance agencies around the U.S. participating in the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America “Best Practices” study group.

Each year since 1993, IIABA and Atlanta-based management consulting firm Reagan Consulting join forces to study the country’s leading insurance agencies in six revenue categories.

Last year, more than 1,100 independent agencies throughout the U.S. were nominated to take part in the annual study, and 217 agencies qualified for the honor. To be chosen, the agency had to be among the 35 to 45 top-performing agencies in one of six revenue categories.

Orion CFO Selected for Credit Union Council

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has tapped Orion Federal Credit Union chief financial officer Jason Lee to join its national Credit Union Advisory Council.

The CFPB’s advisory board and council members are considered to be experts in consumer protection, financial services, community development, fair lending, civil rights and consumer financial products or services. And they are all representatives of community banks and credit unions.

Lee, along with eight other new appointees, will serve a two-year term on the advisory council.

Nearly 23,000 Students Register for Free Tuition

Nearly 23,000 students have registered to participate in Gov. Bill Haslam's program to cover full tuition at two-year colleges for any high school graduate.

Members of the Tennessee Board of Regents got an update on the so-called Tennessee Promise initiative at their quarterly meeting Friday in Knoxville.

Mike Krause was appointed by Haslam to oversee the program. He told board members that 22,800 students have registered.

The free tuition offer is part of Haslam's "Drive to 55" plan to improve the state's graduation rates from the current 32 percent to 55 percent by the year 2025 in order to help improve overall job qualifications and attract employers to Tennessee. Under the program, students who choose to attend a four-year school after graduation will be able to do so as juniors.

$1.6 Million UTHSC Grant Will Fund Diabetes Study

Ivan Gerling, professor in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, has received a $1.6 million grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, a subsidiary of the National Institutes of Health, to study the process of Type 1 diabetes.

The award will be distributed over a three-year period.

Type 1 diabetes is the result of a failure of the insulin-producing cells found in structures called islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. It often appears at a young age and requires lifelong insulin injections as a treatment. Even with this therapy, many patients eventually suffer severe complications, including kidney disease and blindness.

A critical part of scientists’ work toward preventing or curing the disease is to develop a better understanding of its early stages by looking at what happens in the islets before a person gets sick.

“This research grant will allow us to make use of progress in technology and available resources, and also gain new insights into the disease process,” Gerling said in a statement.

Survey: ATM Fees Keep Climbing

The penalty for using an ATM that is not affiliated with your bank rose 5 percent over the past year.

The average fee for using an out-of-network ATM climbed to a new high of $4.35 per transaction, according to a survey released Monday by Bankrate.com. That figure includes $2.77 that banks charge non-customers and $1.58 that banks levy against their own customers for using an outside ATM.

Overdraft fees also surged, rising on average over the past 12 months to $32.74. That's the 16th consecutive record high, the firm said.

Checking account fees have been increasing as lenders adjust to federal banking laws and regulations enacted after the 2008 financial crisis. Among the changes: limits on when banks can charge overdraft fees on ATM and debit card transactions and a reduction in the fees that banks charge merchants for each customer who uses credit or debit cards for their purchases.

Lenders have responded by hiking overdraft and ATM fees, as well as increasing how much money customers must maintain in the bank to avoid checking account fees.

Jones Elected Chair of County Schools Board

Teresa Jones is the new chairman of the Shelby County Schools board.

Jones was elected without opposition Tuesday, Sept. 30, at the first meeting of the nine-member school board elected to four-year terms in August. She serves as chairwoman of the board for the next year.

She succeeds Kevin Woods, who nominated her for the leadership position.

Meanwhile, Woods was elected vice chairman and ran for the position unopposed. He joked that he had been “demoted.”

Woods was chairman for much of the one and only year of the schools merger as well as the negotiations that led to a federal court settlement on the terms of the demerger that began in August.

UT Extension Wins Grant to Fight Chronic Disease

University of Tennessee Extension has been awarded a grant of more than $987,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to reduce the rate of chronic diseases in four West Tennessee counties: Lake, Lauderdale, Haywood and Humphreys. Tennessee State University Extension is a cooperating partner.

The targeted diseases are obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The effort will span age groups from kindergarten to seniors.

The Programs to Reduce Obesity in High-Obesity Areas Award is part of an Health and Human Services initiative to support public health efforts to reduce chronic diseases, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce health disparities and control health care spending. The award amount will cover one year of effort and is subject to renewal for up to two additional years.

The program funds land grant universities in states with counties that have more than 40 percent prevalence of adult obesity. Universities work through existing cooperative extension and outreach services in those counties to improve residents’ access to healthy foods and physical activity opportunities.

Project Director Heather Wallace, an assistant professor of human development in the UT Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, says 48 community organizations and state-level letters of support have already been gathered for the effort.

Tina Turner Museum Opens in West Tennessee

A restored one-room schoolhouse where Tina Turner attended class while growing up in West Tennessee is being turned into a museum about the singer.

The Tina Turner Museum Flagg Grove School exhibit held a grand opening Friday on the grounds of the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville.

Turner attended the school while growing up in Nutbush.

The school closed in the 1960s and was used as a barn before it was moved from Nutbush to Brownsville in 2012.

Turner has made a monetary donation to help with the restoration of the school.

Consumer Confidence Slides in September

U.S. consumer confidence deteriorated in September after hitting the highest level in nearly seven years in August. But economists said the fall appears to be a temporary slip that shouldn't dampen consumer spending in the coming months.

The Conference Board reported Tuesday that its confidence index fell to 86.0, the lowest point since a May reading of 82.2. It was the first decline after four months of gains and followed a revised 93.4 in August, which had been the highest reading since October 2007, two months before the Great Recession officially began.

Economists had expected a slight decline in September after the index hit a nearly seven-year high, but the size of the drop surprised them. Some suggested that the result may have been influenced by heightened global tensions as the conflict against Middle East militants widens.

Analysts said consumers should have felt better during the month, in light of a number of positive economic developments, including a sizable drop in gasoline prices in recent weeks.

US Consumer Sentiment Reaches 14-Month High

A measure of U.S. consumer confidence reached its highest level since July 2013, led by greater optimism that the economy will grow and incomes will rise.

The University of Michigan said Friday that its index of consumer sentiment rose to 84.6 in September from 82.5 in August. That's the second highest level in the past seven years, although the index has rarely topped 85 since the Great Recession. Before the downturn, it typically stood above 90.

Still, the sunnier outlook could spur consumers to spend more, which would accelerate economic growth. Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of economic activity. But spending growth has been subdued since the recession ended in 2009, averaging at an annual rate of 2 percent. It usually rises above 3 percent in a healthy economy.

Other measures also indicate that consumers' outlook is brightening. The Conference Board's consumer confidence index increased to a seven-year high last month.

A big reason Americans have been spending less is that their paychecks have barely kept up with inflation over the past five years. Consumers are now starting to anticipate larger raises: More households expect their incomes to rise in the coming year than at any other time in the past six years.

Applications for Jobless Benefits Drops to 287,000

The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits dropped 8,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 287,000, as the total number of beneficiaries dropped to its lowest level in more than eight years.

The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, fell 4,250 to 294,750, the Labor Department said Thursday. Overall, 2.3 million people are receiving jobless aid. That's the fewest since June 2006, which predates the start of the Great Recession by 18 months.

"The numbers are so low now that it seems just a matter of time before we see a run of big gains" in monthly hiring figures, said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

30-Year Mortgage Rate Averaging 4.19 Percent

A key long-term U.S. mortgage rate dipped this week, the second drop after a large increase two weeks ago.

Mortgage company Freddie Mac said Thursday the nationwide average for a 30-year loan slipped to 4.19 percent from 4.20 percent last week. The average for a 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, was unchanged at 3.36 percent.

The 30-year rate is down from 4.53 percent at the start of the year. Rates have fallen even though the Federal Reserve has been trimming its monthly bond purchases, which are intended to keep long-term borrowing rates low. The purchases are set to end next month.

The decline in the 30-year rate comes after sales of existing homes fell in August. Investors retreated from real estate and first-time buyers remained scarce, according to a report last week from the National Association of Realtors.

And fewer Americans signed contracts to buy homes in August, suggesting that sluggish sales could continue. The Realtors group said Monday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index fell 1 percent.

By contrast, the Commerce Department said last week that sales of newly constructed homes surged in August, to the fastest sales pace since May 2008.

MORTGAGES 0 79 1,199
BUILDING PERMITS 146 146 2,571