VOL. 7 | NO. 38 | Saturday, September 13, 2014
CBIZ MHM Wins Industry Distinction
CBIZ MHM Memphis has been honored with the 2014 When Work Works Award for its use of workplace strategies to increase business and employee success.
The award, part of the national When Work Works project administered by the Families and Work Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management, recognizes employers of all sizes and types in the Memphis area and across the country.
To get the award, worksites must first qualify in the top 20 percent of the country based on a nationally representative sample of employers.
Two-thirds of the evaluation of applicants comes from an employee survey. Applicants are evaluated on six research-based ingredients of an effective workplace: opportunities for learning; a culture of trust; work-life fit; supervisor support for work success; autonomy; and satisfaction with earnings, benefits and opportunities for advancement.
New Goodwill Location Opens in Midtown
Memphis Goodwill Inc. has opened its newest Attended Donation Center & Bookstore in Midtown, at 651 N. McLean Blvd. next to Dino’s Grill and Café Eclectic.
Shoppers can browse hardbacks, paperbacks and special editions, CDs and DVDs at the bookstore. Hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays.
Patrons that spend more than $15 will receive a free Goodwill tote bag. Donors can bring clothing, shoes, furniture, domestics, collectibles, books, housewares, electronics, accessories, computers and jewelry during the Attended Donation Center’s regular operating hours.
Rhodes Adds Director of International Admissions
Rhodes College has hired a director of international admissions to recruit students from outside the U.S.
Steve Thomas comes to the new position from being director of admissions at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, for 16 years.
Thomas will begin his duties this fall with plans for trips to Europe and Asia.
Chancery Court Vacancy Down to 3 Finalists
Three Memphis attorneys, including two who ran for other divisions of Shelby County Chancery Court in the August general elections, have been recommended for the Chancery Court judge vacancy.
Oscar Carr, Jim Newsom and Mike Richards are the finalists recommended Wednesday, Sept. 10, to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam by the Governor’s Commission on Judicial Appointments. They were among the 15 attorneys who applied for the vacancy and were interviewed by the state commission.
Haslam will choose from among the three or seek another list of three finalists from the commission.
The vacancy is in Part 3 of Shelby County Chancery Court where Chancellor Kenny Armstrong ran unopposed in August for re-election. But Armstrong was appointed to the Tennessee Court of Appeals by Haslam effective Sept. 1 and the appointment came too late to remove Armstrong’s name from the ballot.
Newsom ran for Chancellor Part 2 in August and lost to former state Sen. Jim Kyle. Richards ran for Chancellor Part 1 and lost in his challenge of incumbent Walter Evans.
Carr is a member of the Glankler Brown PLLC law firm who has concentrated his practice in business, construction, environmental and other civil litigation.
Memphis, Group Get 2 Crime-Related Grants
Federal officials say the city of Memphis and a safe-neighborhoods organization have received two grants totaling more than $1 million to protect victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, and reduce gang and gun violence.
The U.S. attorney’s office for West Tennessee says the city, in collaboration with the Shelby County Rape Crisis Center, will use a $900,000 grant to improve post-testing requirements for victim notifications, investigations and prosecution of sexual assault cases resulting from the processing of backlogged rape kits.
A $148,885 grant will help Project Safe Neighborhoods and the city expand data analysis and tracking capabilities, to provide more efficient and targeted law enforcement efforts against gang and gun violence.
The grants are intended to enhance partnerships between criminal justice agencies, victim services providers and community organizations.
Lillard to Be President of Treasurers Group
Tennessee State Treasurer David H. Lillard Jr. has been elected president of the National Association of State Treasurers.
The association provides advocacy and support for state treasurers and treasury staff throughout the United States and its territories.
Lillard was elected at the group’s annual conference this week. When he takes over on Jan. 1, it will be the first time a Tennessean has served as the association’s president.
Lillard has said one of his top priorities is preserving the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds. These bonds help pay for schools, libraries, parks and other essential public infrastructure.
In a statement, Lillard said that “increasing the financing costs on those projects does not serve the public good.”
Lillard’s other priorities include promoting financial literacy education and retirement readiness.
Haslam to Swear in Lee as Tenn. Chief Justice
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam plans to preside over an investiture ceremony for Sharon Lee as chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court in Knoxville next week.
Lee will be the third woman to head the five-member high court, taking over from Justice Gary Wade. The Supreme Court elects its chief justice to one-year terms.
Lee, Wade and Justice Connie Clark won retention elections to another eight-year term on the Supreme Court bench last month despite a concerted effort by conservatives to oust the justices appointed by then-Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat.
Their victory means Democrats continue to hold a 3-2 advantage over Republicans in the Supreme Court, which will decide the state’s next attorney general.
Lee was an appeals judge before her appointment to the Supreme Court in 2008.
30-Year Mortgage Rate Edge Up to 4.12 Percent
Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates rose slightly this week but remained near their lows for the year.
Mortgage company Freddie Mac said Thursday the nationwide average for a 30-year loan edged up to 4.12 percent from 4.10 percent last week, where it had stayed for three straight weeks.
The average for a 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, rose to 3.26 percent from 3.24 percent.
At 4.12 percent, the rate on a 30-year mortgage 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.
Mortgage rates often follow the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. The 10-year note traded at 2.54 percent Wednesday, up from 2.41 percent a week earlier. It was trading at 2.53 percent Thursday morning. Bond yields rise when bond prices fall.
To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.
Mid-South Fair Opens Sept. 19 in Southaven
The Mid-South Fair will open at Landers Center in Southaven Sept. 19 through Sept. 28.
And this year the annual event will have free parking for the first time since its move to Southaven.
New features at the fair will include FARMtastic, an educational exhibit for children about agriculture, and cooking and baking contests that had been a regular feature of the fair during its decades in Memphis.
Late last year, fair organizers approached the Memphis City Council about possibly moving the fair back to Memphis, and council members expressed an interest in further talks.
However, before those could get underway, fair officials denied such a move would mean an end to the fair in Southaven and signed a new agreement with Southaven officials.
Fundraiser for The Bridge to Be Held Sept. 20
Fundraiser being held to benefit The Bridge, a street paper operated by college students
The Bridge, Memphis’ first street newspaper, will hold its “Under One Roof” fall fundraiser Sept. 20 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Rhodes College McCallum Ballroom, 2000 North Parkway.
Vendors of The Bridge and community members can meet, mingle, and share a meal. An auction featuring artwork by artists with experiences of homelessness will be one of the evening’s highlights.
The program will also include one of the vendors speaking briefly about his experiences with The Bridge and a community member speaking about why he supports the newspaper.
In March of 2013, a group of Rhodes College students launched The Bridge to address the hardships of the 1,800 Memphians living on the streets. Individuals experiencing homelessness were paid to share their stories and artwork for publication and also were trained as vendors to sell the paper while keeping the profits. The Bridge is believed to be the only street paper in the world run entirely by a staff of college students.
The event is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased for $50 at thememphisbridge.com/fallfundraiser.
Wholesale Stockpiles Up 0.1 Percent in July
Stockpiles held by U.S. wholesale businesses edged up in July by the smallest amount in a year while sales rose at a healthy clip.
Wholesalers increased their inventories by a slight 0.1 percent in July after a stronger 0.4 percent increase in June, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. It was the smallest gain since a 0.1 percent increase in stockpiles in July 2013.
Sales rose a solid 0.7 percent in July, up from 0.4 percent in June. The latest increase matched the May gain.
The July slowdown in inventory growth was expected to be temporary given the strength in sales during the month. That gain will likely spur wholesalers to resume faster restocking of store shelves to meet rising demand. Increasing orders to restock lifts factory production and overall economic growth.
Inventory growth is viewed as a good barometer of business sentiment. When companies add goods to their stockpiles, it shows optimism about future demand. If they slow inventory rebuilding, it can mean worries about demand and efforts to keep from being stuck with unsold goods.
The small July advance pushed wholesale inventories to a seasonally adjusted $533.76 billion, up 7.9 percent from a year ago.
Auto inventories rose 1 percent during the month and machinery stockpiles increased 0.5 percent. Inventories of metals fell 1.2 percent and furniture stockpiles at the wholesale level dipped 0.2 percent.
The government on Friday will broaden its reading on inventories by including stockpiles held by manufacturers and retailers.
Apple Pushes Digital Wallet Service With Apple Pay
Apple is betting that people want to pay with a tap of the phone rather than a swipe of the card.
The technology company on Tuesday introduced a new digital wallet service called Apple Pay that is integrated with its Passbook credential-storage app and its fingerprint ID security system.
The announcement came as Apple introduced several new products including a new, larger iPhone 6 and a watch. Apple Pay is designed to let iPhone 6 owners use their smartphones to pay for purchases at brick-and-mortar stores as well as online via apps. The company says it’s easier and more secure than using a credit or debit card. And it puts Apple in direct competition with services like PayPal and Google Wallet.
So-called mobile proximity payments are expected to grow exponentially over the next few years. Citi Investment Research analyst Mark May said they could grow from $1 billion in 2013 to $58.4 billion by 2017. Still, consumers will have to weigh the convenience of not pulling out a card with the possible danger of storing important financial information on their phones, particularly as retailers like Target and Home Depot report data breaches, and hackers crack celebrities’ iCloud accounts.
In stores, the system uses a technology called near-field communication, which allows mobile phones to communicate with other devices at close range. Many Android phones already have a near-field communication antenna, but iPhones have not until now. Users will pay by holding a phone close to a contactless reader with their finger on the touch ID fingerprint system. It’s also set to work with the Apple Watch when that debuts in 2015.
Southern Security Expands Collierville Location
Southern Security Federal Credit Union is planning an expansion to its Collierville location at 765 W. Poplar Ave.
Construction is scheduled to start in November on the expansion, which will take the 1,200-square-foot facility to 6,800 square feet and allow the location to be a full-service branch. Once finished, the expansion will also allow the location to house the organization’s mortgage department.
Currently, the branch employs one part-time service representative and one full-time branch coordinator, with services including a walk-up ATM, loans and deposit transactions. Once the expansion work is done in March, the branch will include seven full-time employees and one part-time employee.
IP Names Mark Sutton Chairman and CEO
Mark Sutton is the new chief executive officer and chairman of International Paper Co., named this week as the board of the Memphis-based company prepares for the retirement of current CEO and chairman John Faraci.
Sutton had been named president and chief operating officer of the global paper- and packaging-manufacturing company earlier this year as Faraci announced his retirement effective March 2015.
Faraci will now retire Oct. 1 in the transition and remain on the International Paper board until the end of the year. He will also serve as a special adviser through the end of February.
Innova Memphis Closes Venture Capital Partnership
Innova Memphis has reached the first closing of its third venture capital partnership, Innova Fund III LP, with $20 million in capital commitments.
Innova partner Jan Bouten said the milestone underscores the bullishness Innova sees in the local startup ecosystem. Innova remains in discussion with additional investors and expects to have a second close toward the end of the year.
Innova invests in early-stage, high-growth companies with a focus on health care, technology and ag-bio ventures.
UTHSC Instructor Wins Cystic Fibrosis Grant
Weiqiang Zhang, an instructor in the departments of physiology and pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, has received a $1.9 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a subsidiary of the National Institutes of Health, for research on cystic fibrosis.
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease, and chronic lung disease is the main cause of morbidity and mortality for cystic fibrosis patients.
The grant, to be distributed over a five-year period, will be used to support a study of the formation and regulation of a protein complex at the cell surface. The goal is to help cystic fibrosis patients live longer and healthier lives through the research.
Commission Confirms Luttrell Appointees
In the first voting meeting of the new four-year term of office, the Shelby County Commission approved Monday, Sept. 8, County Mayor Mark Luttrell’s reappointment of Harvey Kennedy as chief administrative officer, Mike Swift as finance director, Yvonne Matlock as health services director, John Halbert as chief information officer, Tom Needham as public works director and Richard Copeland as director of the city-county Office of Planning and Development. The commission also approved William Gupton as the new director of the county’s corrections division.
In other action, the commission voted down a special use permit for a “private members club” at 4910 S. Germantown Road near East Shelby Drive. The plan by William Tait was rejected by the commission without hearing from the developer or his representative.
Commissioners also faced more glitches in their electronic voting system and the webcast of Monday’s session. The voting system remained down, as it was in committee sessions last week, causing the body to go to manual voice roll calls. The webcasts have been down for months.
Dollar Tree, Family Dollar Receive FTC Request
Dollar Tree Inc. said Tuesday that it has received a request from the Federal Trade Commission for more information about its proposed takeover of Family Dollar Stores Inc.
The two discount retailers said they expect to receive regulatory approval for the deal and expect it to close as early as the end of November.
Dollar Tree, based in Chesapeake, Virginia, offered to buy Family Dollar for about $8.5 billion in July.
Rival Dollar General has offered two larger bids for the Charlotte, North Carolina-based Family Dollar, but both bids have been rejected by Family Dollar, which says said it would be hard to get regulators to approve the deal. The larger of those bids was about $9.1 billion.
Dollar General is based in Goodlettsville, Tennessee.
US Job Openings Near 13-Year High
The number of U.S. job openings remained near the highest level in 13 years in July, and companies also stepped up hiring that month to the fastest pace in nearly seven years, two signs the job market is slowly healing.
The tally of available jobs ticked down 2,000 to 4.67 million in July, the Labor Department said Tuesday. The drop was led by a decline in government job postings. Businesses actually advertised slightly more jobs.
Total hiring, meanwhile, jumped 81,000 to 4.87 million, the highest level since December 2007, when the Great Recession began. That indicates companies are more likely to fill their open jobs. Still, that is below the pre-recession average of just over 5 million hires a month.
The figures suggest the job market is still making progress, despite last week’s mildly disappointing employment report. That report showed that employers added a net total of just 142,000 jobs in August, the fewest since December. The unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent from 6.2 percent, but only because some of those out of work gave up looking. The government doesn’t count people as unemployed unless they are actively searching.
Research by economists at JPMorgan Chase has shown that a rise in openings is typically followed 1-2 months later by greater net job gains.
“With the number of jobs available still near a 13-year high, the slowdown in net hiring exhibited in the August payrolls report is likely to be short-lived,” John Silvia, an economist at Wells Fargo, said in a research note.
Wal-Mart Preparing for New Memphis Store
Wal-Mart has acquired property for nearly $4 million and several easements for a new store near I-40 and Whitten Road.
The Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust acquired a nearly 30-acre property northwest of the Whitten Road exit for I-40 on Aug. 28 from Belz Investco GP for $3.5 million. The property is on Raleigh Lagrange Road just east of Fletcher Creek and near the Firestone Complete Auto Care Store. Wal-Mart also acquired a nearby property from James and Lucia Gilliland for $489,396.
Several easement documents on file at the Shelby County Register’s Office mention the retailer’s plan to develop the property, including a new four-lane access drive.
Wal-Mart currently operates five of its supercenters in the city of Memphis.
Electrolux to Buy GE Appliances
Sweden’s Electrolux is buying the appliances business of General Electric for $3.3 billion, boosting its presence on the North American market, the companies said Monday.
The acquisition is the largest ever for Stockholm-based Electrolux, ranked as the world’s second-biggest home appliance maker after U.S. rival Whirlpool.
GE confirmed last month it was in talks to sell its appliances division – maker of the first electric toaster more than 100 years ago – as part of its effort to focus on selling more complex and profitable industrial equipment.
Electrolux CEO Keith McLoughlin said the move, which needs regulatory approval and is expected to be completed in 2015, “takes our company to a new level in terms of global reach and market coverage.”
Electrolux plans a rights issue corresponding to about 25 percent of the purchase after the acquisition is complete.
Headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, GE Appliances’ products include refrigerators, freezers, cooking products, washers and dryers and air conditioners. The division, which has 12,000 workers at nine factories, earned $381 million on $8.3 billion in sales last year, for a profit margin of 4.6 percent.
“GE Appliances’ people, valuable home appliances brand, products, distribution, and service capabilities make it a perfect fit with Electrolux and its goal of accelerating growth in the U.S.,” GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt said in a joint statement from the two companies.
Electrolux has more than 60,000 employees, including 10,000 in North America. Its North American operations are headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina.
SBA Awards Start Co. $50,000 in Funding
Start Co. has been awarded $50,000 from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Growth
Accelerator Fund, a competition between 800 applicants that saw 50 receive funds.
The recipients represent 31 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The accelerators also come from a range of industries and sectors, from manufacturing to tech startups to farming.
Each organization will get a cash prize of $50,000 from the SBA. In accepting the funds, the accelerators will also be committing to quarterly reporting for one year. They’ll be required to report metrics such as jobs created, funds raised, startups launched and corporate sponsors obtained, among other information.
Candidates Seek State Attorney General Post
Eight candidates are making their case to become state attorney general.
The candidates spoke at a public hearing on Monday and were interviewed by Tennessee Supreme Court justices, who will appoint one of them to the eight-year term. Tennessee is the only state where the high court appoints the attorney general.
Incumbent Attorney General Bob Cooper is among those who applied for the job. His term ended last month.
During the hearing, the 57-year-old Cooper listed some of his successes while in office and said his skills and experience during that time have only been enhanced.
Chief Justice Sharon Lee said the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation must complete background checks on any finalists before the high court can make a decision.
Soulsville Foundation Taps New CEO
The Soulsville Foundation has hired Calvin Stovall to be its new CEO.
The news comes after former Soulsville CEO Mark Wender decided to leave the foundation earlier this year to pursue other opportunities in the Memphis area.
Stovall is a Chicago native, a longtime Memphian and former director of brand marketing and strategy with ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The nonprofit Soulsville Foundation operates the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Stax Music Academy and The Soulsville Charter School, all located at the original site of Stax Records.
Kroger Finishes Work on Cleveland Store
Kroger has wrapped up the $4 million renovation of its store at Poplar Avenue and Cleveland Street.
The renovation has brought new features to the property that include a new exterior and entry way, new cases and lighting, fresh sushi and an expanded natural and organic section.
The store also now has additional chef-prepared foods, a new floral shop, additional frozen food space and all new décor, among other additions.
New Transportation Service Coming to Midtown
Ham Smythe IV and Premier Transportation Services are preparing to launch what they’re describing as a “safe and reliable nightlife transportation service” connecting Overton Square and Cooper-Young.
Details of the new service, including the name and the look of the vehicle, will be unveiled Sept. 18. On that day, an inaugural tour for media and community leaders will take place aboard the custom-fabricated vehicle.
The goal is to act as a reliable transportation option, serving patrons and promoting businesses in Overton Square and Cooper-Young.
NAACP Chapter Opens at CBU
The nation’s oldest civil rights organization has a new chapter on the campus of Christian Brothers University.
The NAACP chapter is the first not only for the university, but also the first for the network of seven La Sallian colleges and universities of which Christian Brothers is a part.
Leaders of the Memphis branch NAACP joined Christian Brothers officials in a chartering ceremony last week on the campus.
The Memphis branch is the largest branch in the NAACP.
Crisis Center Receives Plough Foundation Grant
The Memphis Crisis Center has received a $34,060 grant from the Plough Foundation to expand its crisis intervention services for seniors in the Mid-South. The grant comes as the Memphis Crisis Center prepares for its second annual Memphis Crisis Center Awareness Week Sept. 10-16.
“We are very excited to be launching a new crisis hotline to address the needs of the growing senior population in the Mid-South,” said Mike LaBonte, Memphis Crisis Center executive director. “The problems for this group are diverse – mental health issues, physical disability, poverty, abuse, neglect and social isolation.”
LaBonte said the grant will allow the center to develop procedures and referral resources for elderly callers in distress, and also for tracking and analyzing data to guide ongoing efforts. It will also help fund volunteer training for handling issues affecting seniors.
In 2013, volunteers answered nearly 19,000 calls of all kinds to the confidential crisis hotline at 901-CRISIS7 (901-274-7477).
The awareness week kicks off Wednesday, Sept. 10, with the Memphis Crisis Center’s monthly fundraiser with Rizzo’s Diner at 106 G.E. Patterson Ave., “Less to Wine About Wednesdays.”