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VOL. 130 | NO. 31 | Monday, February 16, 2015

Daily Digest

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FedEx Seeks Permit For Renovations

FedEx is making some improvements at its world headquarters campus.

The Memphis-based company is seeking a $555,924 building permit from the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement for “interior tenant renovations of existing commercial building space” at 3145 Players Club Parkway.

Memphis-based Linkous Construction co. Inc. is listed as the general contractor.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Amos Maki

Local Democrats Hold Leadership Conventions

Shelby County Democrats meet twice in convention sessions next month to elect a local party executive committee that will in turn elect a new chairman.

The March 14 convention at First Baptist Church on Broad Avenue is a set of caucuses by ward and precinct to select delegates to the March 28 convention, also at the church.

The later session is where the party elects an executive committee of 29, based on voter turnout in the November elections in Shelby County.

Incumbent Brian Carson is not seeking another term as the local party chairman. He is instead running in this year’s election for the District 7 Memphis City Council seat.

Shelby County Republicans will use a similar convention process to select their executive committee and a new party chairman. Republican leaders have not yet announced the dates for their conventions.

Justin Joy is not seeking another term as local Republican chairman.

The leaders of both local parties serve a one-year term of office but are routinely re-elected by their executive committees to a second year between the party conventions, which are held every two years.

– Bill Dries

Mississippi Toyota Plant Reaches Milestone

A red Toyota Corolla LE – specifically Barcelona Red Metallic – assembled Thursday morning has one particular distinction: It’s the 500,000th car built at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi, the carmaker’s plant in Blue Springs, Miss.

The plant, which began building the Corolla in October 2011, reached the half-million production mark faster than any of the other eight Toyota plants in the U.S.

Toyota has invested $880 million in the 2 million-square-foot plant, which has a production capacity of 170,000 vehicles. With overtime and some Saturday work, Toyota Mississippi built more than 180,000 Corollas last year.

Toyota sold 339,000 Corollas last year in the U.S., the most since 2008.

– The Associated Press

VW Taking Applications For Tennessee Academy

Volkswagen is now accepting applications for its three-year apprenticeship program at its plant in Chattanooga.

The German automaker will select 12 apprentices each for its automation mechatronics and car mechatronics programs.

Run in partnership with Chattanooga State Community College, the apprentices alternate classroom and laboratory instruction with paid work experience at the Volkswagen plant. Upon graduation, the company extends apprentices conditional employment offers.

The new automation class will be the third since Volkswagen created the program in 2010, and the second focusing on car mechatronics. Areas of training include metal working, machining, welding, robotics and computer-assisted design.

The application deadline is June 30, and classes begin in August.

– The Associated Press

Knoxville Mayor Orders Sunshine Law Training

An East Tennessee mayor has ordered more training for those appointed to city boards after she found possible violations of the state’s sunshine laws.

The move stems from a public records request by the Knoxville News Sentinel in relation to a proposed $9 million digital radio system being discussed by the Knox County E-911 Board of Directors. The newspaper reports the city gave it copies of emails on Thursday that show some board members discussed the contract in private.

Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch, who was among those who met or corresponded privately with others, told the newspaper that he “wasn’t aware of the Sunshine Law, but now I see my actions should have been different.”

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero said she directed city Law Director Charles Swanson to develop a training program. Swanson said he hopes to have something in place within 30 days.

– The Associated Press

Retailers Fret as Products Sit in West Coast Ports

It’s early for many Americans still sloshing through winter to plan their gardens, home improvements and spring sports leagues, but stores gearing up for warmer weather are fretting that they won’t have some products to sell due to a labor crisis at West Coast seaports.

The critical gateways for international trade have become more like parking lots for massive cargo ships that haul a you-name-it selection of consumer goods made in Asia and return there with U.S. exports.

The result: Containers of shovels, fencing, bathroom tiles, shoes, even parts to make summer camp footlockers are stuck at the docks or on ships anchored just offshore.

So are car parts, medical equipment and furniture. And U.S.-produced perishables, including meat and produce, are unable to be sent to Asian consumers.

Dockworkers and their employers have been negotiating a new contract since May, but in recent weeks talks have stalled, all but paralyzing 29 ports that handle about one-quarter of U.S. international trade. That’s around $1 trillion worth of cargo annually.

In the latest twist, companies that run marine terminals locked out the majority of dockworkers Thursday. Employers didn’t call crews to operate the towering cranes that hoist cargo on and off ships.

The partial lockout also was planned for Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Each is either a holiday or weekend for which employers would have to pay dockworkers extra – and with contract dispute, that is not going to happen.

– The Associated Press

Eurozone Economy Picks Up Speed in Fourth Quarter

Strong growth in Germany helped the eurozone economy expand faster than expected in the final three months of 2014, the latest in a string of indicators showing the region is picking up steam amid lower oil prices and a weaker euro.

Economic output across what was then the 18-country eurozone was 0.3 percent higher in the fourth quarter than the previous three-month period, the EU’s statistics agency said Friday. That equates to an annualized rate of around 1.2 percent, which is still only about half the growth rate in the U.S.

The fourth-quarter performance was nevertheless higher than the 0.2 percent increased anticipated by investors and has buoyed European stock markets on Friday. The Stoxx 50 index of eurozone shares rose 0.7 percent to a seven-year high.

A confluence of factors appears to be helping the eurozone, which now numbers 19 countries following Lithuania’s entry this year. The near 50 percent fall in oil prices since last summer should help consumer spending while the fall in the euro to near decade-lows against the dollar is a potential boon to exporters. The European Central Bank’s stimulus, which involves buying around 1 trillion euros ($1.14 trillion) of bonds, could also lift growth by keeping borrowing rates low.

Germany was the standout performer, growing by a quarterly rate of 0.7 percent. Its export-heavy economy should do particularly well from the fall in the euro. A lower currency makes exports cheaper in international markets, and the euro is currently weighed down by the ECB stimulus plans.

– The Associated Press

PROPERTY SALES 21 82 6,474
MORTGAGES 7 53 4,088
BUILDING PERMITS 240 353 15,714
BANKRUPTCIES 38 58 3,328