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VOL. 8 | NO. 5 | Saturday, January 24, 2015

Daily Digest

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$42 Million Permit Sought for Target Distribution Center

A third-party vendor has applied for a $42 million building permit to build out Target’s planned Memphis online fulfillment center.

Innotrac, which will manage the Southeast Memphis facility for Target, applied for the permit through the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement.

Target will turn the 900,000-square-foot building at 5461 Davidson Road into an online fulfillment center that will employ 462 people and service the entire southeastern U.S.

In December, Target was awarded a 15-year tax break for the project, which will support the Minneapolis-based retailer’s booming online business. The incentive would save Target around $12 million over 15 years while producing a local tax benefit of $27.2 million, according to city-county Economic Development Growth Engine.

Forbes Says Grizzlies Worth $750 Million

The Memphis Grizzlies’ value is on the rise.

According to Forbes.com, which ranked the value of all 30 NBA teams, the Grizzlies are now worth $750 million, or a 99 percent increase from the $377 million that Robert Pera’s group paid to buy the team from Michael Heisley.

Forbes listed the Grizzlies’ revenue as $135 million. Even with the hefty increase in value, the Grizzlies still ranked just 25th – right behind the Sacramento Kings (24th, $800 million) and just ahead of Charlotte (26th, $725 million).

Forbes placed the Los Angeles Lakers’ value at $2.6 billion, and they were immediately followed by the New York Knicks ($2.5 billion).

Apparently, winning basketball games in the current season did not figure into the equation.

Sears Crosstown Will Receive New Name

The team behind the redevelopment of the Sears Crosstown site will unveil a new name for the development during a Feb. 21 community groundbreaking ceremony.

“Until now, when Memphians have talked about the building, they’ve called it Sears Crosstown,” the development team said in a statement announcing the groundbreaking ceremony, which will be held 88 years to the day after the initial groundbreaking in 1927. “But Sears is long gone, and the surrounding neighborhood proudly claims the name Crosstown. Now it’s time for something new.”

The Crosstown development team recently secured a senior loan of $80.5 million from SunTrust Bank, bringing the total amount of investment into the project to more than $200 million.

The Crosstown team is seeking to redevelop the vacant Crosstown building into a “vertical urban village” through arts, education and health care.

General contractor Grinder, Taber & Grinder was given the greenlight to begin construction Dec. 30. The Kemmons Wilson Cos. will oversee the project. Memphis-based LRK Inc. and Dialog of Vancouver partnered on design. SunTrust Bank is the largest financing source.

Projected to open in 2017, the building will create 800 jobs and generate more than $37 million in new wages annually, according to an economic impact analysis requested by the city of Memphis.

Keller Named President of Baker Donelson

Jennifer P. Keller is the new president and chief operating officer of the Baker Donelson law firm, effective April 1, the law practice announced Tuesday, Jan. 20.

Keller succeeds Jerry Stauffer in the position. Stauffer has held the position for 10 years, during which the Tennessee-based firm has grown to more than 650 attorneys in 19 offices in seven states and Washington, D.C.

Keller comes to the COO’s position from being a shareholder in the Tri-Cities office of Baker Donelson and a member of the law firm’s board of directors. She is chairwoman of the firm’s labor and employment department, an employment litigator and a graduate of the University of Tennessee School of Law.

SeaPort Airlines to Begin Memphis-Greenville Route

SeaPort Airlines plans to begin passenger service in mid-March between Greenville, Miss., and Memphis.

The airline has agreed to a lease that allows it to fly into Memphis International Airport's main terminal.

Scott Brockman, the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority's chief executive officer, tells the Delta Democrat-Times it will take a couple of weeks to get everything in place.

SeaPort will offer three round-trip flights between Greenville and Memphis weekdays, beginning at 6 a.m. March 16. The airline also will offer two round trips on Sundays and one on Saturdays.

SeaPort flights between March 16 and April 30 will cost $39, including fees and taxes, and must be purchased by March 31.

Subsequent fares will cost between $49 and $79 depending on how far in advance they're purchased.

GE to Provide Natural Gas Turbines for Allen Plant

General Electric Co. says it has received an order from the Tennessee Valley Authority for two high-efficiency gas turbine generators to replace three coal-fired units that are being retired at the Allen Fossil Plant in Memphis.

GE said Thursday that the natural gas-powered generators will reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, compared with a typical coal-fired plant.

TVA's board voted in August to retire the coal-fired Allen plant and replace it with a natural-gas facility.

At the time, TVA CEO Bill Johnson said the $975 million, 1,000-megawatt natural-gas fired plant will significantly cut emissions of carbon dioxide and gases that cause smog, while providing power to about 580,000 homes.

The U.S. government-owned utility supplies power to about 9 million people in seven states.

Lincoln at Wolfchase Apts. Sells for $29.5 Million

A Birmingham, Ala.-based real estate investment firm specializing in apartment communities has made a purchase in Memphis.

EBSCO Wolfchase LLC, an affiliate of EBSCO Income Properties LLC, bought the 408-unit Lincoln at Wolfchase Apartments community at 8230 Rockcreek Parkway in Cordova from MLQ-ELD LLC for $29.5 million, according to a special warranty deed. The purchase price breaks down to $72,303. The buyer filed a $23.6 million loan with Compass Bank in association with the purchase.

Built on 31 acres in 1998, the Class A apartment community totals 429,055 square feet. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2014 appraisal is $24.4 million.

Lakeland Fires City Manager

On a 3-2 vote Tuesday, Jan. 20, the Lakeland Mayor and Board of Commissioners voted to fire city manager Chris Thomas.

The resolution and action followed a stormy working session earlier this month in which some commissioners complained that there were no standards in place to judge Thomas’ performance in the post.

Defenders of Thomas claimed the complaints were politically motivated.

Thomas was hired in December 2013 by Lakeland Mayor Wyatt Bunker following his election over incumbent Mayor Scott Carmichael.

Thomas, a former Shelby County Probate Court clerk, served on the Shelby County Commission with Bunker.

The mayor’s position in Lakeland is a part-time role, with the city manager or administrator hired on a full-time basis to run the town’s affairs day to day.

“God has closed the door for me as City manager in Lakeland,” Thomas posted on Facebook after the decision. “I can't wait to see what great things He has in store.”

Radian Partners LLC Announces Acquisition

Wealth management firm Radian Partners LLC has announced the acquisition of the independent investment advisory practice of Gregory Gibson of Memphis.

Gibson has joined the Memphis office of Radian Partners, merging the operations of his firm with Radian Partners in a deal for which terms were not disclosed. Gibson brings with him longstanding client relationships as well as more than $13 million in assets under management.

The latest acquisition follows Radian Partners’ purchase of a privately owned wealth management practice in Union City, Tenn., in 2013. The firm also is looking to extend its range of services and regional footprint.

Qsource Awarded $700,000 for Vaccine Study

Tennesseans put themselves at risk for pneumonia simply because they don’t get vaccinated, and pneumonia kills 1 out of 20 people who get it.

A new study headed by Qsource aims to understand the barriers to pneumococcal vaccination, how to better communicate its importance and identify motivating factors that influence behavioral change.

Through a $700,000 grant provided by Pfizer’s Independent Grants for Learning & Change, the study’s coordinators will conduct in-depth focus groups with patients and health care providers to better understand existing barriers and test interventions that can improve vaccination rates.

Pfizer partners with the global health care community to improve patient outcomes in areas of mutual interest through support of measurable learning and change strategies. Qsource has spent more than 40 years working with health care providers improve quality of care and meet government standards through best practices and shared interventions.

Qsource will also work with nine Federally Qualified Health Centers serving rural and minority populations throughout Tennessee that have been identified by partnering Tennessee Primary Care Association.

Findings from patient and provider focus groups will help develop triggers in the practice’s electronic health records to alert clinical staff if a patient meets the at-risk requirements for being vaccinated for pneumonia.

Common triggers noted in EHRs are patients ages 65 years and older, adults with chronic illnesses or conditions that weaken the immune system and lifestyle habits such as smoking, alcohol and others that can lead to developing diabetes.

2 Hospitality Companies Buy Union Ave. Sites

A hospitality company has acquired a key piece of Downtown property for $440,000.

Suna Hospitality LLC purchased the office building at 400 Union Ave. Downtown from Judy Sossaman Brantley, according to a Jan. 12 warranty deed. The property, formerly home to Sullivan Branding after cs2 and Thompson & Co. merged, is strategically located on the north side of Union between South Lauderdale Street and Danny Thomas Boulevard.

The 16,525-square-foot property sits on less than an acre, and the Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2014 appraisal is $813,300. The property was listed on real estate websites as being up for auction in December.

The buyer, Suna Hospitality, lists its principal address as 4300 American Way, which is a Studio 6 Hotel. Jatin Kumar is the registered agent for Suna Hospitality and lists his mailing address as a home in Germantown. The front desk agent at the Studio 6 Hotel said she was unfamiliar with Kumar, whose local business interests have included hotels, cabs and restaurants.

The 400 Union location is the second property on that side of Union to be purchased in recent weeks by entities associated with hotels.

On Jan. 13, just one day after the 400 Union purchase, GCG Hospitality Inc. purchased the property at 310 Union, located at the northwest corner of Union and Danny Thomas, from Sandy and Sage LLC for $1.2 million, according to a warranty deed.

The buyer lists its address as 42 S. Camila St., which is currently a Quality Inn Hotel in the Memphis Medical Center area. The registered agent for the buyer is listed as Gopal Govan, according to state records. Govan, owner of the Quality Inn Hotel, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

The 14,656-square-foot building was home to a New York Suit Exchange store and sits at the entrance to the Downtown core, one block east of AutoZone Park. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2014 appraisal is $775,300.

Iberiabank to Open Medical Center Branch

Iberiabank is opening a new branch in Memphis on Monday, Jan. 26.

The bank’s new Medical Center location at 1296 Union Ave., across from Methodist Hospital, will expand its footprint to Union Avenue and will serve commercial, private banking, medical banking and consumer clients.

The bank also says the new location’s design will be unique to the Iberiabank brand. It will, for example, eliminate traditional teller lines and feature a concierge-style atmosphere.

In the traditional bank branch system, the center of activity tended to be so-called “teller row,” with the layout of the branch oriented to draw the customer traffic and attention to the tellers. Concierge-style branches tend to revolve more around a bank employee greeting the customer and taking them wherever they need.

Iberiabank assistant vice president M. Grant Harrison will lead the new Medical Center office as branch manager.

St. George’s Names New Head of School

J. Ross Peters, the upper school head of the Westminster Schools in Atlanta, is the new head of school for St. George’s Independent School of Memphis, effective in July.

The board of trustees of the prekindergarten-12th grade coeducational school selected Peters to succeed William W. Taylor after a national search with help from the search firm Educators’ Collaborative.

Peters will come to St. George’s after the spring term at Westminster Schools is completed.

St. George’s, founded in 1959, has elementary school campuses in Germantown and Memphis as well as a middle and upper school in Collierville.

Fairgrounds Forum Set for Jan. 28

The Wharton administration’s still-forming plan for redevelopment of the Mid-South Fairgrounds and the Tourism Development Zone proposed to finance it are the subjects of a Jan. 28 forum by the Greater Memphis Progressive Caucus and Make Memphis.

The 6 p.m. gathering at Circuit Playhouse, 51 S. Cooper St., will include political leaders on all sides of the question and is free and open to the public.

Harwell Shuffles House Committee Assignments

Two chairmen and an internal challenger have been moved out of leadership positions by Republican state House Speaker Beth Harwell.

Rep. Matthew Hill of Jonesborough was removed as chairman of the Local Government Committee and fellow Republican Rep. Judd Matheny of Tullahoma was replaced as chairman of the Government Operations Committee.

And Republican Rep. Rick Womick of Murfreesboro, who unsuccessfully challenged Harwell for the Republican nomination for speaker this session, is no longer vice chairman of the Civil Justice Committee.

Hill famously cast the deciding vote against Harwell's signature measure to allow wine sales in grocery stores in 2013. The measure passed the following year and was approved in referendums in 78 communities in November.

Matheny in 2012 mulled a challenge to Harwell for speaker before abandoning the bid.

UTHSC Professor Honored by Academy of Inventors

Duane Miller, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, has been named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

Miller will be inducted March 20 during the organization’s fourth annual conference in Pasadena.

The honor is given to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating inventions that have made a tangible impact on the quality of life, economic development or the welfare of society. Those elected to the rank of NAI Fellow are named inventors on U.S. patents and are nominated by their peers.

Miller, who was nominated by the UT Research Foundation, has collaborated on a number of successful research efforts since he joined the UTHSC faculty in 1992. He estimates that he and his collaborators have roughly 400 patents or patents pending for synthetic medicinal structures to attack diseases.

U of M Online RN-to-BSN Program Among Best

The online RN-to-BSN program in the University of Memphis’ Loewenberg School of Nursing has been named one of the best online classroom experiences by RNtoBSN.org.

RNtoBSN.org ranked Memphis’ program No. 14 among 400 online RN-to-BSN programs nationally based on data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, institution websites and state nursing boards. Factors considered include accreditation, commitment to online education, academic and career counseling services and academic quality.

The university’s RN-to-BSN program, which enrolled its first cohort of 50 registered nurses in 1978, has since produced hundreds of graduates with Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees.

The Institute of Medicine has recommended an increase in the proportion of nurses with a BSN degree to 80 percent by 2020. In the Memphis area, RNs with a BSN range from 34 percent to 60 percent among health care settings.

Hickory Hill Retail Center Fetches $1.6 Million

A Hickory Hill shopping center has been sold for $1.6 million.

GG Memphis Investments LLC acquired the Kirby Parkway Center at 6433 Winchester Road from Hickory Ridge 178 LLC, an affiliate of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.-based Ram Realty Services, according to a Jan. 8 warranty deed. The registered agents for the buyer are Amit Gulati and Ajay Gulati, according to public records.

The 312,656-square-foot shopping center sits on 35 acres near on the south side of Winchester near Kirby Parkway. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2014 appraisal for the property, which was built in 1997, is $3 million. The purchase also includes a 7,031-square foot restaurant on a separate parcel. The assessor’s appraisal for the restaurant property is $200,000.

Church Health Center to Hold Walk April 11

Walking as One, the Church Health Center's annual community event celebrating wellness in action in Memphis, will be held April 11 at 9 a.m. at Church Health Center Wellness, 1115 Union Ave.

Funds raised through Walking as One go toward the organization’s Faith Community Nursing ministry. Faith Community Nurses are licensed, registered nurses who practice using nursing knowledge combined with spiritual care, and the Church Health Center serves as the headquarters for more than 15,000 nurses worldwide.

Visit WalkingAsOne.org for more information on registering a team and other ways to get involved.

Tennessee Sets Uniform Fee for 911 Services

Tennesseans getting their first bills of 2015 will soon see new charges for 911 services.

Under a new law that took effect on Jan. 1, the surcharge for all landlines and mobile phones was set at $1.16 per month.

That's a 16-cent increase for mobile phone users, and a decrease in the fee for business landlines in all 100 emergency communications districts in Tennessee. For residential landlines, the universal $1.16 fee marks an increase for subscribers in 45 districts, and a decrease for those in the remaining 55 where most people paid $1.50 per month.

The biggest increase will be for residential landlines in Madison County, where the previous rate was 45 cents per month.

Previous monthly 911 fees for business landlines ranged from $1.52 to $3.

Elton John Fdtn. Awards Grant to Friends for Life

Friends For Life has received a $75,000 grant from The Elton John AIDS Foundation. The Foundation tackles the most difficult issues related to HIV and has raised more than $300 million since its inception in 1992.

The grant will allow Friends For Life to focus on a Youth Leadership Initiative to provide advocacy for issues of concern to youth, including LGBT youth, comprehensive sex education, health care coverage and access to appropriate health care.

Friends For Life is the oldest and largest HIV/AIDS service agency in the Mid-South. Its mission is to help people affected by HIV/AIDS live well. Founded in 1985, Friends For Life provides comprehensive, client-centered services, including HIV and STD testing and case management, housing, food pantry and healthy life skills support.

Co-Sponsor Changes Stance on Common Core Repeal

A co-sponsor of legislation to repeal Tennessee's Common Core standards says the measure is likely to change.

Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Dolores Gresham and Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman Mike Bell filed the proposal in November.

Gresham, a Republican, told The Associated Press on Thursday that she's now OK with the higher benchmarks in English and math after talking with teachers and other educators who have convinced her that the tougher standards are helping students.

The standards spell out what students should know and when. They have been adopted by most of the states, and are intended to provide students with the critical thinking, problem solving and writing skills needed for college and the workforce.

Bell, also a Republican, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

City Council Delays Beale Street Vote

The Memphis City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 20, delayed a vote for two weeks on the resolution that would create a Beale Street Tourism Development Authority to oversee the future direction of the entertainment district between Second and Fourth streets.

Council member Harold Collins argued major transactions the nine-member authority board might make should be subject to council approval. Other council members cited their longstanding reservations about the long-term agreement made through the nonprofit Beale Street Development Corp. with Performa Entertainment for the revitalization and reopening of the district starting in late 1983.

In planning and development items Tuesday, the council voted down on 0-12 vote a special use permit for a used-car lot on Winchester Road east of Elvis Presley Boulevard.

The plan drew opposition from Belz Enterprises, which owns property at the busy intersection.

The decision marked the second time in three months the council has rejected plans for a used-car lot for the Elvis Presley Boulevard area.

In November, the council rejected plans by the owners of the Hot Wheels car lot to relocate from Graceland-owned property to a lot further north on the Boulevard near the $90 million, 450-room resort-hotel Elvis Presley Enterprises is building.

Postal Service Proposes Small Rate Increase

The U.S. Postal Service has proposed slight increases for mailing postcards and international letters – but wants to leave first-class "Forever" stamps at their present 49 cents.

Under a Jan. 15 filing with the Postal Regulatory Commission, letters to international destinations would rise from $1.15 to $1.20. Postcards would rise from 34 cents to 35 cents.

The increases being proposed would become effective April 26, if the requests are granted.

On first-class mail, every ounce over 1 ounce would cost an additional 22 cents, up from 21 cents. And letters to all international destinations would go from $1.15 to $1.20.

The filing does not affect Postal Service shipping products and services.

The Postal Service said the requested price increases are the latest in a series of steps "to achieve financial stability."

"By growing volume, revenue and contribution, the Postal Service will continue to meet America's mailing and shipping needs well into the future," the agency said in a statement.

"While improving efficiency in streamlining its network and seeking legislative changes, the Postal Service must address an outdated business model," it added.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses. It relies on the sale of postage, products and services to raise the revenues needed to pay for its operations.

Before they take effect, the new rates must be approved by the commission.

Southwest Beats Street 4th-Quarter Forecasts

Southwest Airlines Co.'s fourth-quarter net income slipped 10 percent due to the effect of fuel-hedging contracts that lost value as oil prices tumbled, but the company's results beat Wall Street expectations.

Southwest said Thursday that it earned $190 million despite $282 million in write-downs on the fuel contracts.

Adjusted to exclude those and other one-time costs and gains, Southwest said adjusted profit was a record $404 million, or 59 cents per share. Analysts expected 55 cents per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue increased 4.5 percent to $4.63 billion, above the analaysts' forecast of $4.59 billion.

Southwest shares rose $1.87, or 4.5 percent, to $43.70 in trading before the opening bell.

Prices for oil and jet fuel have dropped by half in recent months. That reduces Southwest's spending – labor surpassed fuel as the airline's biggest single expense in 2014. And it should get better – Southwest expects to spend less than $1.90 per gallon in the January-through-March period, 40 percent less than a year ago.

But falling oil prices also lower the value of contracts that Southwest made to hedge against the kind of spike in energy prices that occurred in 2008. In the fourth quarter, Southwest booked a $282 million charge to write down the value of its hedging deals, resulting in the decline in net income.

Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly said travel demand remained strong – the average flight in the quarter was 82 percent full, up 1.6 percentage points over the same period a year earlier. Kelly said he was pleased with booking trends so far in January, and the Dallas company expects first-quarter 2015 passenger revenue per mile to grow 6 percent.

Homebuilder Confidence Sales Outlook Slip in Jan.

U.S. homebuilders are feeling slightly less confident in their sales prospects ahead of the spring homebuying season, traditionally the peak period for home sales.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Tuesday slipped this month to 57, down one point from a revised reading of 58 in December.

Even so, builders' overall sales outlook remains favorable. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good rather than poor.

Builders' outlook for sales over the next six months and a measure of traffic by prospective buyers both declined, while a view of current sales conditions held steady.

The index also found sentiment improved in the West, Northeast and Midwest, but took a step back in the South.

The latest reading is consistent with the NAHB's forecast that the U.S. housing market will continue to improve at a gradual pace this year.

Sales of new homes grew at a sluggish pace for much of 2014. Just 399,000 new homes were bought in the first 11 months of the year, a 0.2 percent improvement from the same period in 2013. That's still far off from the annual rate of 700,000 seen during the 1990s.

Century Wealth Shortlisted for Award

Century Wealth Management in Memphis has been shortlisted for the 2015 Family Wealth Report Awards.

The Family Wealth Report Awards showcase “best of breed” providers in the wealth management and family office industry. Century Wealth Management has been selected as a finalist in the Regional Multi-Family Office category.

The winners will be announced on March 12 at an awards gala in New York City.

Average 30-Year Mortgage Rate Falls to 3.63 Percent

Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell for the fourth straight week, with the benchmark 30-year rate again marking its lowest level since May 2013. The average for a 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, slipped further below 3 percent.

Mortgage company Freddie Mac said Thursday the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage declined to 3.63 percent this week from 3.66 percent this week last week. The rate for the 15-year loan slipped to 2.93 percent from 2.98 percent last week.

A year ago, the average 30-year mortgage stood at 4.39 percent and the 15-year mortgage at 3.44 percent. Mortgage rates have remained low even though the Federal Reserve in October ended its monthly bond purchases, which were meant to hold down long-term rates.

The drop in mortgage rates has come as bond yields have hit record low levels. Mortgage rates often follow the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which has fallen below 2 percent. Bond yields fall as prices rise.

The 10-year note traded at 1.87 percent Wednesday, up from 1.84 percent a week earlier but still at a historically low level. It dropped to 1.86 percent from 1.94 percent after Europe's central bank announced a plan aimed at reviving that region's struggling economy.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country at the beginning of 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.

Consumer Prices Drop 0.4 Percent in December

U.S. consumer prices fell in December by the largest amount in six years, reflecting another big monthly decline in gas prices and providing further evidence of falling inflation pressures.

The Labor Department said Friday that its consumer price index dropped 0.4 percent last month, the biggest one-month drop since December 2008. It was also the second straight monthly decline in prices with both months reflecting big decreases in gas prices, which have been tumbling in recent months because of the global plunge in oil prices.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy, showed no increase in December, only the second time since 2010 that core prices have not risen.

"There is little inflation pressure in the United States or almost anywhere else for that matter," said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

For all of 2014, overall inflation was up just 0.8 percent, the smallest annual increase since 2008.

The 0.8 percent rise in prices for the year compared to a 1.5 percent increase in 2013 and a 1.7 percent increase in 2012. It was the smallest advance since prices edged up just 0.1 percent in 2008, the year the Great Recession threw the economy into reverse.

Reports: Google to Sell Wireless Phone Service

Google is planning to sell wireless phone service directly to consumers using the networks of Sprint and T-Mobile, according to reports published Wednesday.

If everything falls into place, Google Inc. could offer discounted wireless data plans that would pressure other major carriers to offer better deals and services or risk losing customers.

More affordable plans, in turn, could bring more people online, something that Google is trying to do because it runs the Internet's dominant search engine and largest advertising network.

Both the technology news site The Information and The Wall Street Journal reported Google's intention. The reports cited unnamed people familiar with the matter.

PROPERTY SALES 56 94 12,852
MORTGAGES 23 50 8,053
BUILDING PERMITS 285 422 30,356
BANKRUPTCIES 23 67 6,131