VOL. 8 | NO. 8 | Saturday, February 14, 2015
Airport Authority Seeks Permits for Seismic Work
The Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority is beefing up seismic protections at several properties.
The Airport Authority has applied to the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement for four building permits totaling $1 million for seismic improvements at 2865 Rudder Road, 4100 Louis Carruthers Road, 2756 Winchester Road and 4376 Airways Blvd.
Chris Woods Construction Co. Inc. is listed as the general contractor on all four permit applications.
Digital Billboard Debuts on Cook Convention Center
A digital LED display screen on the west wall of the Memphis Cook Convention Center was turned on Wednesday, Feb. 12, with a ceremonial flip of the switch.
The screen, 39 feet by 14 feet 6 inches, is visible to eastbound traffic on the Hernando DeSoto Bridge and has been a goal of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau for three years.
The total display area of 52 and a half feet by 38 feet 8 inches includes the Memphis Cook Convention Center logo as well as two static panels below the LED screen.
The displays include tourism websites and a welcome to Memphis with the red guitar logo that was a part of the neon sign once visible from the bridge atop the Lone Star Industries cement company silos.
The silos were demolished on the south side of The Pyramid after the city bought the harbor-side property as part of the preparations for Bass Pro Shops at The Pyramid, which is scheduled to open in May.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau, which includes a subsidiary that manages and operates the convention center, will also use the space to promote convention center and other civic events and sell some limited time on the board to recoup the estimated $400,000 expense of the project.
The project includes an LED sign at Main and Poplar as well as a third LED marquee sign at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts.
Radio Host Zeke Logan Dies After Cancer Battle
Radio personality Zeke Logan died Tuesday, Feb. 10, following a cancer diagnosis just a few months earlier.
Logan, 49, teamed with Drake Hall to form the Drake and Zeke radio team, whose show most recently was broadcast on 98.1 the Max. Logan’s son made the announcement of his death on-air. Logan had not been doing the show for several weeks.
Logan and Hall had been a popular rock station duo for more than 20 years. On its website, the station issued the following statement: “We will remember our brother Zeke forever who has left us far too soon.”
The Memphis Grizzlies honored Logan before Tuesday night’s game at FedExForum. And Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger opened his post-game remarks by expressing condolences Logan’s family.
Last week, on Drake and Zeke’s Facebook page, Hall posted: “About 2 months ago … Zeke was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer. If you’ve been through this with your family and your friends, you know it’s not easy. It’s very hard. And we’ve all tried to maintain privacy and respect for his wife Lori and his kids Piper and Zach and for his mom Sarah, and for us to carry on as we have as he would have wanted us to do.”
Maines Paper & Food Seeks $2.5M Permit
More new construction is planned at the Maines Paper & Food Service cold-storage facility in Arlington.
A $2.5 million building permit application has been filed with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement for the facility at 11420 Gulf Stream Road, listing the scope of work as “mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection.”
The 56,780-square-foot Class A facility, which is owned by W D Arlington LLC, was built in 1998 and is situated on 6.1 acres at the northeast corner of Gulf Stream Road and Tenn. 385.
The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2014 appraisal of the site is $2.2 million.
The $2.5 million February permit application follows a $3 million permit application in December.
One of the largest independent foodservice distributors in the U.S., Conklin, N.Y.-based Maines generates an annual revenue approaching $4 billion and distributes to single-unit and regional chain restaurants, educational and health care institutions, convenience stores and other outlets spanning 36 states, according to the company’s website.
Metropolitan Bank Reports Positive 2014 Results
For 2014, Metropolitan Bank’s parent company has reported earnings of about $5.2 million, up 34 percent year over year.
The company also is preparing to celebrate its seventh anniversary, with assets at year-end of $933 million. Total deposits were up 18 percent to $786 million, and the bank reported net loan growth of 15 percent.
In Metropolitan’s Memphis market, the bank is also continuing to show rapid balance sheet growth, with $367 million in loans and $524 million in deposits as of the end of 2014 representing 17 percent and 15 percent year-over-year growth, respectively.
Metropolitan’s Memphis market CEO Phillip May said the bank has grown into the sixth largest depositor in the city of Memphis, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Dixon Hughes Goodman Expands Memphis Office
The accounting firm Dixon Hughes Goodman has signed a lease to significantly expand the size of its East Memphis office, allowing the firm to accommodate growth across a variety of its service lines.
The expansion to Dixon Hughes Goodman’s existing office on the fourth floor of 999 S. Shady Grove Road will add 4,500 square feet to the firm’s local footprint. Louis Pounders will lead ANF Architects’ design of the new space, and construction is expected to start immediately after April 15, with the goal of moving staff in by end of summer.
The firm also recently expanded its roster of talent through the addition of almost 20 hires, including associates, tax services accountants, a business consulting accountant, a tax manager and several interns. And the expansion comes on the heels of a company-wide rebrand, including a new logo and branding materials.
Running Pony, Sullivan Win Regional Emmys
Memphis creative groups Running Pony and Sullivan Branding have won second straight regional Emmy awards for work they produced for the University of Memphis Tigers football team.
The two companies' "Watercooler Guys" ads for Memphis Football from the 2013 season garnered the entities Emmy awards for a second year for the campaign.
While the first year of the campaign featured actors around a water cooler discussing upcoming Tigers games, the 2013 campaign also featured members of the Memphis football team and head coach Justin Fuente, whose role was that of a co-worker, Dustin Fountain.
Running Pony and Sullivan Branding received their awards at the 29th annual Mid-South Regional Emmy Awards, which were held recently at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville.
Awards were given in 74 categories covering almost 800 entries received.
In addition to the back-to-back Emmy awards for the "Watercooler Guys" campaign, Running Pony also won a Regional Emmy in 2014 for the Tiger Football intro video, "A Storm is Coming," which featured the Tigers and Mighty Sound of the South marching band playing in a violent rainstorm.
Tigers Sports Properties Names General Manager
Learfield Sports has appointed Lucas Kraut general manager for its locally based Tiger Sports Properties entity, the exclusive multimedia rights holder for University of Memphis Athletics. The U of M is one of the nearly 100 collegiate properties represented by Learfield Sports.
Kraut has been involved in the collegiate sports marketing and sponsorship arena for nearly 10 years, most recently serving four years as general manager for Blue Hens IMG Marketing at the University of Delaware. Prior to that, he was general manager for Elon ISP Sports Network located on the campus of the North Carolina University, and he worked with CSTV Online in the role of manager, University Relations-West. Kraut’s career in college sports marketing started with his alma mater, Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, where he was director of ticket sales and operations for the athletics department.
At Tiger Sports Properties, Kraut will lead all aspects of the long-term rights relationship between Learfield Sports and Memphis Athletics, which includes signage, sponsorships, corporate hospitality, event marketing, play-by-play radio, television and radio coaches' shows, and official athletic website advertising.
Fairfield Inn & Suites Sells for $3 Million
A Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott near Perkins Road and Interstate 40 in East Memphis has been sold for $3 million.
Suit & Tie Lodging LLC, operating in care of Iowa-based Hawkeye Hotels, bought the hotel at 4760 Showcase Blvd. from Leeward Strategic Properties LLC, operating in care of GE Capital Real Estate, according to a Feb. 5 special warranty deed.
Built in 1999, the hotel includes 27,772 square feet of space. The number of rooms at the hotel was not immediately available. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2014 appraisal is $1.4 million.
Corker Decides Against 2016 Presidential Bid
Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee says he has no plans to run for president.
The former Chattanooga mayor tells WPLN-FM that he is "very challenged" by his role as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, which he assumed after Republicans took over control of the Senate this year.
Corker said in August that he hadn't ruled out pursuing a presidential bid because he was waiting for a consensus candidate to emerge. He told WPLN on Monday he now thinks the Republican field is "shaping up in a good way."
Just 11 percent of those surveyed in a recent by Middle Tennessee State University poll said Corker should run for president, while 41 percent said he should not.
Corker was first elected to the Senate in 2006.
Ioby Platform Launches Campaign in Memphis
The online platform for “citizen-led, neighbor-funded projects” ioby has announced a new $50,000 challenge to make a big impact in neighborhoods around Memphis.
The campaign, called “discover ioby,” hopes to spur as many as 20 new projects across the city. From April 11 through April 15, $50,000 in new funds will be available to match dollars raised for small-scale projects that make Memphis’ blocks and neighborhoods more livable, fun and safe.
To qualify, applications must be submitted by March 6. Campaigns must be launched no later than March 30, with at least 20 percent of the total project funds raised before April 11.
For more information about starting a project that qualifies for matching funds, visit ioby.org/memphis.
Stamps Appointed as Collierville Alderman
John E. Stamps is the newest member of the Collierville board of aldermen.
Stamps was chosen by the board Monday, Feb. 9, to fill the vacancy created by the death of Alderman Jimmy Lott.
Stamps, who ran for alderman in the 2014 Collierville elections, was one of 22 citizens who applied for the vacancy.
Stamps is broker-owner of Stamps Real Estate Co. and has served on the Collierville Planning Commission.
St. Jude Scientist Honored for Immunology Work
The American Association of Immunologists has named Dr. Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital the recipient of the 2015 AAI-BD Biosciences Investigator Award.
The award recognizes an early career scientist for outstanding research contributions to the field of immunology.
Kanneganti is internationally known for research that has advanced understanding of the innate immune system. In his nomination letter, Nobel Laureate Dr. Peter Doherty, a St. Jude Immunology Department member, called Kanneganti an extraordinary research investigator and praised her for having a broad view of biology and an understanding of the significance of scientific research.
Kanneganti joined St. Jude in 2007 and is now a member of the Department of Immunology.
Seven Memphis-Area RadioShacks to Close
Seven RadioShack stores in the Memphis area are among the 1,784 retail sites the company plans to close, according to court documents related to its bankruptcy filing in early February.
The Shelby County stores to close between Feb. 17 and March 31, according to the list, are in Wolfchase Galleria, 2760 N. Germantown Parkway; Trinity Commons, 714 Germantown Parkway; the Collierville store, 694 W. Poplar Ave.; Whitehaven Plaza, 4082 Elvis Presley Blvd.; Bartlett Towne Center, 6045 Stage Road; and Polo Shops, 7464 Winchester Road. The store in Holiday Plaza Mall in West Memphis is also slated to close.
Memphis-area stores spared from the list of closures include the Midtown store, 1625 Poplar Ave.; Eastgate Shopping Center, 5066 Park Ave.; 8412 U.S. 51 in Millington; 8110 Camp Creek Road in Olive Branch; and 35 W. Goodman Road in Southaven.
The century-old consumer electronics chain has a deal with Sprint Corp. for spring to buy the leases on the RadioShack stores that remain after the three waves of closings between Feb. 17 and March 31.
Botanic Garden Names New Executive Director
Scott McCormick has been named the new executive director of the Memphis Botanic Garden Foundation.
McCormick brings extensive leadership experience in for-profit and nonprofit settings – including four years as the executive director of the Plough Foundation and more than 29 years in management in the private sector. Most recently, McCormick was with Duncan-Williams Inc. as a financial advisor.
A native Memphian, McCormick graduated from White Station High School and received his BBA in Finance from the University of Memphis.
McCormick was a member of the City Council from 2004 to 2008 and is currently a member of the Shelby County Schools board. He also serves as vice chairman for Shelby County Healthcare Corp., which operates Regional One Health in Memphis.
McCormick follows Jim Duncan, who retired at the end of January.
Baptist Executive to Chair Medical Group Foundation
Jim Boswell, Baptist Medical Group’s CEO and vice president of physician services for Baptist Memorial Health Care, has been named chairman of the board of the American Medical Group Foundation, an affiliate of the American Medical Group Association.
Boswell will serve a two-year term as chair.
The foundation supports medical groups around the country in their efforts to enhance population health and care coordination through integrated delivery systems.
HealthNet Credit Union Celebrates 60 Years
HealthNet Federal Credit Union will celebrate its 60th anniversary at its annual meeting Feb. 25 at Baptist Memorial Hospital - Memphis.
HealthNet was founded in 1955 to serve the financial needs of Baptist Memorial Hospital employees. Today, it has assets approaching $50 million and more than 6,700 members, and it provides financial services in addition to Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp. employees also to many medical groups and hospitals throughout the Memphis area.
The credit union has four locations to serve members, including its main office on Chickering Lane in Cordova.
Inferno Announces Several Employee Promotions
The advertising, marketing, design and PR firm inferno had made a round of promotions.
Colleen Radish has been promoted to account supervisor, Ryan Knoll and Liza Routh have been promoted to account managers, and Jennifer Rodrigues has been promoted to account executive.
Collectively, Radish, Knoll and Routh have more than 20 years of combined service at inferno, and the agency said it plans to leverage the group’s skill sets to ensure that “our processes and approach to account service meet the needs of our clients.”
UTHSC Professor Receives Osteoarthritis Grant
Osteoarthritis is an increasingly large burden on the American health care system as this debilitating condition affects 60 percent of Americans over the age of 60 – the fastest-growing demographic in the nation.
Hongsik Cho, assistant professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, has received a $130,808 grant from the William and Ella Owens Medical Research Foundation to support a project titled “Theranostic Nanosomes for Osteoarthritis.”
The purpose of Cho’s research is to develop a drug delivery system using very small packets, called nanosomes, enclosing the drug and a fluorescent dye to repair damaged cartilage. Cho’s nanosome technology targets damaged cartilage only, using a specific antibody that binds to exposed type II collagen, one of the major components of knee cartilage.
Hagar Donates $25,000 to Blues Hall of Fame
Sammy Hagar’s Red Rocker Bar & Grill formally opened at Southland Park in West Memphis Friday, Feb. 6, with a ceremony attended by the Red Rocker himself.
The rock-and-roller also donated $25,000 to the Blues Hall of Fame on the other side of the Mississippi River.
The Hall of Fame, to be operated by The Blues Foundation, is scheduled to open in May in the South Main Historic Arts District.
Memphis Redbirds Unveil ‘Birds on the Bat’ Logo
Now owned by their parent St. Louis Cardinals, the Memphis Redbirds will look the part in 2015 with a new primary logo that more closely resembles the “birds on the bat” logo worn by the major-league club.
“The new logo ties together the rich tradition of the Cardinals organization and Memphis’ role in developing the future of Cardinals baseball,” Redbirds general manager Craig Unger said.
The redesigned uniforms will make their debut in the Redbirds’ Friday, April 3, exhibition game with the Cardinals at AutoZone Park. The stadium is undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation during the off-season.
The Redbirds’ home and away jerseys this year will feature “Memphis” and the “birds on the bat” logo across the front. Matching pants with red belts, red socks and red shoes will remain a staple of the uniforms. The birds’ beaks on the uniforms are changing from red to yellow to match the color of the bat.
In addition to the jersey changes, the team will wear red caps with the white home uniforms and blue caps with the gray road uniforms. The Redbirds also will have an alternate red-and-blue batting practice cap. All three hats will feature an updated “M” logo centered on the front.
State Employees Get Buyout Information
The Tennessee Department of Human Resources has sent an email to all state employees about a voluntary buyout program.
Gov. Bill Haslam mentioned the program during a budget presentation earlier this week.
According to the email, only those employees determined eligible for the buyout will be invited to participate in the program. Each department and agency is working to determine what classifications will be considered eligible.
A website, telephone line and email address have been established to update and inform people about the program, as well as give them an opportunity to ask questions.
Town hall meetings are also planned across the state to provide assistance to eligible employees. They are expected to get buyout packets in late April.
County Pension Fund Remains Above $1.1B
The value of the pension fund that pays benefits to Shelby County retirees remained above $1.1 billion in December, new figures show.
The fund’s value was almost flat between November and December (it slipped from $1.12 billion to $1.10 billion), and December marked the 22nd straight month its value has topped $1 billion.
As of Dec. 31, the largest percentage asset allocation in the plan consisted of U.S. stocks. The domestic equity component of the county’s portfolio is up 5.6 percent year to date.
Central Defense Security Expands Staffing Division
Central Defense Security is increasing its Central Defense Staffing division with additional office space and workforce.
The expansion is happening at its current location at 6084 Apple Tree Drive, Suite 7, with the addition of Suites 8 and 9.
Founded in March 2013, the division originally leased 797 square feet of office space. When the expansion is finished later this month, the division will have a total of 2,226 square feet.
Williford Appointed to State Health Agency
Janet Williford, director of Baptist Trinity Home Care & Hospice, has been appointed to the Tennessee Board of Licensing Health Care Facilities by Tenn. Gov. Bill Haslam and will hold the position of Home Health Agency Administrator until June 2018.
The board is made up of 18 members, all appointed by the governor, who each serve terms of four years. The board is empowered to license and regulate all hospitals, recuperation centers, nursing homes, homes for the aged, home care organizations, assisted living facilities, birthing centers, residential hospices, and ambulatory surgical treatment facilities.
The board also has the ability to revoke licenses for violations of federal or state laws or regulations in the interest of patient health, safety, or welfare.
Few Positive Results in Welfare Drug Screening
Officials say there have been only a few positive results in the state's new program to drug-test welfare recipients.
The Tennessean cited the Department of Human Services in reporting that 37 out of 16,017 people who applied for Families First cash assistance benefits have tested positive for drugs since the law took effect six months ago. State data shows another 81 discontinued the application process after filling out a drug screening questionnaire.
Opponents of the law say it singles out poor people for drug testing over others who get federal benefits.
"You are requiring more than 16,000 people to be screened for drug use based on the assumption that people who receive public assistance are more likely to use illegal drugs," said Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee. "There's no evidence to indicate that's true.”
Supporters of the law say they are pleased with the results.
Tennessee is one of 12 states that require welfare applicants to go through a drug screening and testing process.
Memphis Symphony Sets Six Masterworks Concerts
The Memphis Symphony Orchestra has announced its 2015-2016 First Tennessee Masterworks Series. The series will be expanded from five programs during the current season to six programs for next year. As in the past, the series will feature Saturday evening performances at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Memphis, followed by Sunday afternoon performances at the Germantown Performing Arts Center the next day.
The 2015-2016 season will showcase works such as “The Planets,” “Bolero,” “Pictures at an Exhibition” and Mahler’s First Symphony. The MSO Symphony Chorus will be celebrating its 50th anniversary and will be showcased in the Mozart Requiem in April. Mei-Ann Chen will serve as conductor for five of the six programs.
Tickets start at $15. For information about upcoming performances, visit memphissymphony.org.
Tigers Promote Three Asst. Football Coaches
University of Memphis football coach Justin Fuente has promoted assistant coaches Galen Scott, Darrell Dickey and Brad Cornelsen.
Scott has been named the Tigers’ defensive coordinator and will continue to coach the team’s linebackers. Dickey has been elevated to assistant head coach. He will continue to serve as co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach. Cornelsen will assume the role of co-offensive coordinator while continuing to coach Memphis’ quarterbacks.
All three played a role in the Tigers winning the American Athletic Conference championship last season, the team’s first league title since 1971, along with winning a record 10 games and capping the year with a 55-48, double-overtime win over BYU in the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl.
Scott, who enters his sixth season at the University of Memphis, was a member of a defensive coaching staff in 2014. The defense was ranked 11th nationally in scoring defense.
US Job Openings Rise to 14-Year High
The number of available jobs posted by U.S. employers rose in December to the highest level in 14 years, a sign recent strong job gains will likely continue.
Employers also filled more jobs and more employees quit, two additional signs of an improving labor market.
Job openings rose 3.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted 5 million, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That is the most since January 2001. Total hires also increased 1.9 percent to 5.1 million, the most in more than seven years.
The number of quits rose 2.1 percent to 2.7 million. More quits are a sign of confidence in the labor market, because people typically quit when they have another job lined up, usually at higher pay, or are optimistic that they can find a new position.
More openings are usually followed by greater hiring. Businesses appear increasingly confident that the economy will continue to improve and are seeking more staff to meet stronger demand.
The strong job gains encouraged many Americans to start looking for work. More than 700,000 people began looking for work in January, the most in six years. Not all found jobs, lifting the number of unemployed and pushing the unemployment rate to 5.7 percent from 5.6 percent.
Kellogg Cuts Forecast as Cereal Sales Decline
Kellogg said Thursday that its cereal unit suffered another quarterly sales decline, and the company cut its long-term revenue forecast.
The maker of Frosted Flakes, Pop Tarts and Special K said it now expects core revenue to rise between 1 to 3 percent over the long-term, down from the previous forecast of 3 to 4 percent.
In its flagship North American division, sales for the breakfast foods segment fell 7.7 percent for the period ending Jan. 3. Kellogg Co., based in Battle Creek, Michigan, has been struggling to grow cereal sales as Americans increasingly reach for alternatives like Greek yogurt and breakfast sandwiches.
CEO John Bryant has also conceded that Special K in particular has been hurt by changing attitudes toward health and dieting, with people showing more interest in overall ingredients, rather than just calories.
Bryant called 2014 a "disappointing" year.
To improve results, the company has been slashing costs under a program called Project K.
The company said it lost $293 million, or 82 cents per share. Excluding one-time items, it earned 86 cents per share, which was still short of the 92 cents per share analysts expected, according to Zacks Investment Research.
Revenue was $3.51 billion, also falling short of the $3.65 billion Wall Street expected.
Rite Aid to Pay $2B for EnvisionRx
Rite Aid is expanding from running drugstores into managing pharmacy benefits with a planned, $2 billion purchase of EnvisionRx.
The company said it will pay about $1.8 billion in cash and $200 million in stock for EnvisionRx, a pharmacy benefit manager, or PBM, owned by the investment firm TPG.
PBMs run prescription drug plans for customers like employers and insurers. They process mail-order prescriptions and handle bills for prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies. EnvisionRx also offers services in a growing area for prescription drug spending, specialty pharmacy, and a national Medicare prescription drug plan.
Rite Aid, which does not have a PBM business, will enter a market dominated by large players like Express Scripts Holding Co. and rival drugstore operator CVS Health Corp.
Rite Aid is based in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, and runs 4,569 drugstores, a total that trails Walgreen Co. and CVS Health. EnvisionRx is based in Twinsburg, Ohio.
The EnvisionRx deal comes nearly two months after Rite Aid said its fiscal third-quarter earnings jumped 47 percent in a performance that trumped Wall Street expectations, and the drugstore chain hiked its annual forecast after cutting it for two straight quarters.
The EnvisionRx deal is expected to close in September.
US Retail Sales Fall, Other Spending Rises
U.S. retail sales fell sharply last month as gas prices plummeted and auto sales slowed. But excluding those volatile categories, Americans stepped up their spending a bit.
Retail sales dropped 0.8 percent in January, the Commerce Department said Thursday, following a 0.9 percent decline in December. The dollar value of gas station sales plunged 9.3 percent, the largest drop in six years. Auto dealer sales also fell for the second straight month.
Outside those categories, sales ticked up 0.2 percent after a flat reading in December.
The modest gain suggests Americans are still cautious about spending their windfall from lower gas prices, which economists expect will save the typical family $750 this year. Cheaper gas and strong hiring have sent consumer confidence to seven-year highs, a sign spending should pick up soon.
Economists were disappointed by the weak showing, but most expect spending to pick up soon.
Consumers did spend more last month at electronics, building materials and general merchandise stores. Restaurants and bars notched another month of solid business.
Gas prices nationwide fell for 123 straight days to nearly a six-year low of $2.03 a gallon in January, according to AAA. That was the lowest in more than five years. Pump prices have since risen to $2.21 a gallon, but that is still $1.10 cheaper than a year earlier.