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VOL. 8 | NO. 21 | Saturday, May 16, 2015

Daily Digest

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Logistics Firm Opening Downtown Sales Office

A fast-growing logistics firm will invest $1 million to open a sales office in the heart of Downtown Memphis.

Total Quality Logistics will invest $1 million to open the office in the 100 Peabody Place building Downtown, a move that is expected to create at least 100 new jobs over the next five years.

The new Memphis office, which is slated to open in August, will be the company’s third expansion in Tennessee in just over a year. In January 2014, TQL invested $1 million to open its first Tennessee office in downtown Nashville, committing to create 105 new jobs there by the end of 2016. The Nashville office already employs nearly 60.

In March 2015, TQL invested $1 million to open its second Tennessee office in downtown Knoxville, also committing to create 100 new jobs over the next five years. TQL’s Knoxville office is slated to open in July 2015.

TQL is one of the fastest growing providers of transportation logistics services in North America, connecting shippers that have product to move with truckload carriers that have the capacity to move it. The company works with thousands of customers and more than 50,000 carriers across North America to move more than 1 million truckloads of freight per year.

TQL moves around 3,500 different types of commodities, including fresh fruits and vegetables, packaged foods and beverages, meat and poultry, machinery and equipment.

“When a company like TQL chooses to expand three times in the span of a year and a half, it makes a real statement about Tennessee as a true business partner and the kind of employees companies can count on for success,” said Randy Boyd, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner, in a statement.

– Amos Maki

Delta Slashing 130 Jobs at Memphis International

A Delta Air Lines Inc. subsidiary is laying off 130 employees at Memphis International Airport.

DAL Global Services, which provides ground handling, maintenance and cargo handling for Delta at Memphis International, will begin the layoffs May 14, according to a notice filed with the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

The state department said the layoffs would affect employees at the company’s facility at 2491 Winchester Road. The employees at the facility are not covered by a collective bargaining agreement, according to the state.

Earlier this year, Delta laid off 84 employees after the airline cut non-stop flights to New Orleans, Dallas/Fort Worth, Pittsburgh and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

– Amos Maki

Coke Seeks Building Permit for Distribution Facility

Coca-Cola is building out its new Memphis home.

The soft drink giant has applied for a $1.7 million building permit for its new 266,800-square-foot location at 4770 Southpoint Road in Memphis. Heard Construction Inc. is listed as the general contractor on the building permit application.

In February, the city-county Economic Development Growth Engine awarded Coca-Cola Refreshments USA Inc. a 15-year tax break to consolidate distribution operations in Memphis and West Memphis, Ark., into the new Memphis facility.

The Atlanta-based beverage giant will maintain its production operations on Hollywood Street in Memphis and in West Memphis, but plans on moving 317 employees from the Hollywood location and another 50 employees from West Memphis to the new distribution center, which will serve the entire Memphis region.

– Amos Maki

BRIDGES Receives Hearst Foundation Grant

BRIDGES has received its first national grant from The Hearst Foundation Inc., a national philanthropic resource for organizations working in the fields of culture, education, health and social services.

The $50,000 grant will support the BRIDGES annual fund and provide assistance for students who demonstrate financial need.

“To be the recipient of this grant is historic for our organization,” said Cynthia Ham, president and CEO of BRIDGES. “Recognition of this type from such a well-respected national foundation is greatly appreciated and it furthers our ability to continue the transformative work we are doing every day to build youth leaders for the Greater Memphis community.”

The BRIDGES mission is to provide students an opportunity to find their voice through unique experiential learning activities that are adventurous, relational and transformative. Participants are empowered to reach across racial and socio-economic divides, are prepared for secondary educational opportunities and careers, and are civically engaged in their communities.

– Don Wade

FedEx Drug-Shipping Indictment Will Proceed

A judge has rejected FedEx's attempt to toss out a federal indictment accusing the company of knowingly shipping illegal prescription drugs from two online pharmacies.

The Memphis, Tennessee-based shipping giant had argued that an exemption in federal law allows certain transportation companies to legally possess drugs in the normal course of business. FedEx says it cannot reasonably be expected to police the millions of packages it ships each day.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer said during a hearing in San Francisco on Thursday that prosecutors allege FedEx engaged in a conspiracy to distribute illegal drugs, which isn't covered by the exemption.

Prosecutors have charged FedEx with multiple conspiracy and drug counts and accuse the company of money laundering. FedEx has pleaded not guilty.

– The Associated Press

Memphis Is No. 2 ‘Sneeziest and Wheeziest’ City

The Memphis area is ranked as the country’s second worst city for exposure to ragweed pollen and ozone pollution that can worsen respiratory allergies and asthma, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The Washington D.C.-based group is using the ranking to push for the Environmental Protection Agency to approve standards for ozone pollution as well as carbon emissions from power plants.

By the pollen and ozone standards, the council ranks Memphis just below Richmond, Va. on the scale of “sneeziest and wheeziest” cities and regions.

Chattanooga was fifth, Little Rock was 18th, Nashville was 26th and Knoxville was 29th.

– Bill Dries

Shelby County Clerk Changes Car Tag Decals

The Shelby County Clerk’s office has changed the way the annual vehicle decals or “tags” are made as well as the number system for them.

Before the change, the tags showing a driver had renewed his or her vehicle registration were printed separately from the registration information and taped to the registration form.

The change at all seven branch locations of the clerk’s office include the peel-off tag as part of the registration form, which also is printed on card stock.

The numbered decals also use the vehicle’s license plate number which clerk Wayne Mashburn says will improve security. Law enforcement officers will be able to tell instantly if the decal goes with the vehicle it is on.

The change is the latest in the registration renewal process for Memphians in recent years. Vehicle inspections for Memphians that had been required for registration renewal were abolished by the Memphis City Council in July 2013.

– Bill Dries

Artspace Lofts Plan Scores Major Investment

A plan to transform an abandoned Downtown warehouse into live-work spaces for artists has received a major boost.

The Hyde Family Foundations is investing $1 million to help Artspace Project Inc. make the South Main Artspace Lofts a reality.

The organization wants to convert the old United Warehouse building at 138 St. Paul Ave. in the South Main Historic Arts District into 58 affordable live-work spaces for artists and their families, community and gallery space and an outdoor arts garden.

Artspace Project Inc. is still seeking roughly $2.85 million to fully fund the $14 million project. It is trying to raise private donations to complete financing so it can begin construction on the project in the first quarter of next year.

– Amos Maki

Pre-Leasing Launches for Chisca on Main

Pre-leasing at The Chisca on Main is now underway.

Memphis-based Carlisle Corp. is renovating the 102-year-old Chisca Hotel into an apartment community.

The property will be managed by Memphis-based LEDIC Management Group, which has a beige leasing trailer on site in the parking lot behind The Chisca on Main, between Main Street and Second Street.

The leasing trailer is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The leasing office is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.

Flyers, brochures and handouts with leasing information will be provided to visitors, who also can fill out their application to lease housing. Floor plans can be viewed on the newly launched website, www.thechisca.com, along with amenities and other information.

The redeveloped Chisca on Main will include a total of 161 units in a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom designs, including some loft units and a few penthouse units.

– Amos Maki

County Commission Resets Regional One Health Board

Shelby County commissioners approved Monday, May 11, the reappointment of nine members to the Shelby County Health Care Corp. board and the appointment of businessman Tyrone Burroughs as the newest member of the board that oversees Regional One Health Center.

The action enforces existing rules about staggered terms for board members that had lapsed recently.

The commission also approved Monday a change to county policy that allows the commission to use its credit card for travel purposes. The change allows for immediate confirmations on travel plans that would save the commission money.

The commission delayed a vote on a third and final reading of commissioner Steve Basar’s proposal to add to pedestrian safety laws in unincorporated Shelby County. Basar called for the delay on the final vote.

The proposal failed to get the seven votes necessary on first and second reading but advanced to third reading where it will take nine votes to pass.

– Bill Dries

DTZ, Cushman Merger to Have Little Local Impact

The proposed merger of DTZ and Cushman & Wakefield should have “very little impact” on Memphis-based Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors, according to a high-ranking company official.

On Monday, May 11, DTZ announced plans to acquire Cushman & Wakefield for $2 billion in a deal expected to close by the end of the year. If completed, the deal would create a combined commercial real estate services firm with more than 43,000 employees and $5.5 billion in revenue.

Larry Jensen, president and chief executive of Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors, said the impact of the proposed merger should be minimal. The ownership group of CW/CA is 100 percent local and the business is not included in the deal.

Commercial Advisors will continue to operate independently, with all decisions made by local ownership, Jensen said.

“DTZ does not have significant business operations in our market area and we anticipate very little impact locally on our business and our on-going relationship with Cushman & Wakefield,” said Jensen.

– Amos Maki

LeMoyne-Owen Leadership Search Down to Two

A search committee looking for the next president of LeMoyne-Owen College has recommended two finalists to succeed outgoing president Johnnie B. Watson.

The finalists being considered by the board of Memphis’ historically black college are Russ Wigginton, vice president of external programs at Rhodes College and Andrea Lewis Miller, chancellor of Baton Rouge Community College.

The LOC board of trustees is expected to decide between Wigginton and Miller later this month.

Watson’s retirement as the 11th president of LeMoyne-Owen is effective June 30. Watson has been president of the college since 2008.

The leadership change is one of two to come this summer in local higher education.

The Tennessee Board of Regents is considering four finalists to be the next president of Southwest Tennessee Community College. Regents chancellor John Morgan will recommend one of the four to the board for a vote. A successor to outgoing president Nate Essex is expected by July.

The finalists for that position are: Kenyatta K. Lovett, assistant vice chancellor at the Board of Regents; Anthony G. Kinkel, president of Wichita Area Technical College of Kansas; Tracy D. Hall, vice president at St. Louis Community College; and Edythe M. Abdullah, special adviser to the president of the University of North Florida.

Essex has been president since the merger of Shelby State Community College and State Technical Institute formed Southwest in 2001.

A year ago this month, David Rudd was selected by the Regents as president of the University of Memphis, the city’s largest higher education institution, succeeding interim president Brad Martin who served for a year after the retirement of Shirley Raines.

– Bill Dries

Magna Bank Reports First-Quarter Earnings

Magna Bank reported a first-quarter profit of $1.4 million, a 33 percent improvement over the first quarter of 2014.

Among the highlights for the quarter, net loans grew at an annualized rate of 9.2 percent, and deposits grew at an annualized rate of 14 percent. Magna chairman and CEO Kirk Bailey said some of the increases can be attributed to an overall “improving financial environment.”

They’re also the result of a focus on customer service and “our creation and marketing of highly competitive deposit products for our customers,” he said in a statement about the quarter, which was followed in April by the announcement that Nashville-based Pinnacle Financial Partners is acquiring Magna.

Bailey will continue to lead the Memphis operations of the combined firm. The merger is subject to regulatory approval as well as to approval from Magna shareholders, and it’s projected to be completed in the fourth quarter.

– Andy Meek

Tigers’ Tubbs Makes Capital One Academic Squad

University of Memphis senior first baseman Tucker Tubbs has been named to the Capital One Academic All-District First Team, the College Sports Information Directors of America have announced.

The Tigers leading power hitter, Tubbs has a .328 batting average with 14 doubles, 14 home runs and 49 RBI. Earlier this season, the Collierville High School product hit a home run in six consecutive games; that’s just two games shy of the NCAA record. He was named one of six Louisville Slugger national players of the week after the streak of consecutive games with a home run.

His 14 home runs rank eighth nationally, while his RBI total, slugging percentage and total bases rank in the nation’s top 40.

In addition to his athletic accomplishments, Tubbs has compiled a 3.87 grade point average in accounting and will receive his degree this spring.

– Don Wade

Brewville @ DeNeuville Fundraiser Set for June 6

DeNeuville Learning Center will hold its Second Annual Brewville @ DeNeuville fundraiser, which will feature a local homebrew competition with five winning categories, on June 6.

General admission opens at 5 p.m. and includes food, local craft beer from Memphis Made, live music by South Side Supper Club and contests. Kevin Cerrito, co-host of the “I Love Memphis” podcast and MemphiSport, will emcee the event.

All proceeds benefit DeNeuville Learning Center, which provides education and support services to women and families of the Mid-South. Brewville will take place at the learning center, at 190 Cooper St.

– Don Wade

St. Louis Zoo Welcomes 850-Pound Bear, Via FedEx

Sometimes, shipping an 850-pound beast can be a real bear.

The St. Louis Zoo on Friday announced the arrival of its latest resident, a 2-year-old male polar bear named Kali that was orphaned as a cub. The bear was shipped in by FedEx plane and truck ahead of its scheduled June 6 debut at the zoo’s new Polar Bear Point Exhibit.

The zoo said Kali was resting comfortably and would remain in quarantine for about a month, which is a standard practice that allows an animal to become acclimated to its new digs.

Kali spent the past two years at the Buffalo zoo after he was orphaned in Alaska’s wilderness when a hunter unknowingly killed his mother, unaware she had a cub.

Kali’s latest adventure came Tuesday, when FexEx – having over the years handled everything from endangered sea turtles to seals and pandas – stepped in with air and ground transportation to get a bear halfway across the country.

Kali caught a three-hour flight on a FedEx Express 767 jet from Rochester, New York, to Memphis, secured in a specially designed, half-ton aluminum crate while monitored by a veterinarian and two attendants, the company said in its blog.

The crate was placed behind the cockpit wall, allowing a Buffalo zoo representative and Steve Bircher, the St. Louis Zoo’s curator of mammals and carnivores, to monitor and hydrate him and “basically talk to him,” said Susan Gallagher, the St. Louis zoo’s spokeswoman.

At Memphis, FedEx said, the bear was wheeled to a waiting company truck, its drivers trained in handling sensitive shipments. Attendants who followed in a vehicle frequently checked Kali’s condition, providing water along the way during the five-hour drive in which the bear was in a cargo area kept at 55 degrees.

– The Associated Press

BankTennessee Cuts Ribbon on Munford Branch

Collierville-based BankTennessee will host a ribbon cutting at its new branch in Munford, at the corner of Munford Avenue and Highway 51 South, on May 21.

Located on a 1.12-acre site at 26 Munford Ave., the new branch has 4,860 square feet of space and mirrors the design of the BankTennessee branch in Ripley.

Hugh Northern is the architect, and the building contractor is R.L. Coulston & Sons of Covington.

– Andy Meek

Tennis Memphis Summer Camps to Reach 1,500 Kids

Tennis Memphis, a nonprofit organization which manages and programs City Of Memphis municipal tennis courts, is entering the final four weeks of its Be A PowerServer Campaign, which ends June 5.

The effort aims to raise $30,000 towards the organization’s annual National Junior Tennis & Learning Tennis summer camps, held at 23 locations across the Memphis area.

NJTL was formed in 1969 by tennis legend Arthur Ashe and two of his colleagues with the mission of making tennis available to underserved children, focusing on its physical, character building, psychological and intellectual benefits.

Tennis Memphis has a core mission of Empowering Youth Through Tennis and Education. It was founded in 2002 and is one of the nation’s largest NJTL chapters, offering year-round youth programs featuring tennis, as well as training in life skills and academic excellence. Thousands of Memphis area youth are impacted every year through activities at tennis and community centers, Shelby County Schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, and this seven-week annual tennis summer camp.

The 2015 camps will reach more than 1,500 children, and will be operated at 23 sites for seven weeks from June 1-July 24. Sites include tennis centers, parks and community centers. The daily camp will be conducted for three hours per day, four days per week.

In addition to daily professional tennis instruction, students will have lessons in life skills from the NJTL Life Skills curriculum and participate in the national Arthur Ashe essay contest. There will be heavy emphasis on 10 and under tennis at all sites.

The cost at most sites is only $25 per week, or a summer pass can be purchased for all seven weeks for only $100. Hundreds of campers pay reduced or no fees to attend.

– Don Wade

GTx Narrows Loss in First Quarter

GTx Inc. reported a net loss for the first quarter of $2.4 million, compared to a $9 million loss during the same period in 2014.

The Memphis-based biopharmaceutical company’s research and development expenses were down during the quarter – $2.9 million, compared to $6.4 million for the same period in 2014

And general and administrative expenses were held almost in line – $2.1 million during the quarter, compared to $2.6 million during the same period in 2014.

The company said that next month it plans to move forward with enrollment in an open-label proof-of-concept Phase 2 clinical trial of enobosarm in certain patients, a study that will enroll up to 55.

Shortly after that, in the third quarter, the company plans to launch an open-label Phase 2 clinical trial of enobosarm, this time enrolling up to 118 patients.

Enobosarm is GTx’s lead product candidate, an oral, nonsteroidal selective androgen receptor modulator used with women who have advanced breast cancer.

– Andy Meek

Memphis-To-Cancun Flight Resumes

Vacation Express is resuming its seasonal Memphis-to-Cancun flight.

On Monday, May 18, the first Vacation Express nonstop flight from Memphis International Airport to Cancun International Airport will depart. The flights arrive in Memphis on Sunday nights and depart on Monday mornings at 10 a.m.

Dr. David Manuel Preciado Juarez, Consul General of Mexico, will be on hand at Memphis International for the season’s inaugural flight.

Last year, Vacation Express flew Memphis to Cancun from May through August and then switched the service to the Bahamas until October.

– Amos Maki

Former State Legislator Kathryn Bowers Dies

Former Tennessee Representative and state Senator Kathryn Bowers died Wednesday, May 14, at the age of 72.

Funeral services for Bowers were pending Thursday.

Bowers was a Shelby County election commissioner in the 1970s and a vocal opponent of switching from the lever-voting machines of the era to then-new punchcard voting systems.

She and other Democrats on the election commission succeeded in blocking the move to the punchcard systems.

She ran unsuccessfully for City Council and the state House, both times challenging members of the Ford family at the height of the family’s political influence locally.

Bowers also remained active in various political campaigns after she left the election commission and in 1995 was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives as part of Shelby County’s delegation to Nashville.

She served until 2005 when she was elected to the fill the Senate seat of Roscoe Dixon who resigned to accept a position in the administration of then County Mayor A C Wharton Jr.

Bowers served 15 days as a state Senator before she was indicted in the Tennessee Waltz corruption scandal, a sting operation in which FBI agents posed as executives of a computer recycling front company offering bribes.

Bowers also was chairman of the Shelby County Democratic Party at the time and resigned that position as well as the legislative seat.

Bowers pleaded guilty to taking $11,500 in bribes that were recorded by the FBI agents. She was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison.

– Bill Dries

Malco Bowling Center Opens in Oxford

Memphis theater giant Malco Theatres Inc. is striking out with an expanded presence in Oxford, Miss.

Malco Theatres’ Premier Lanes Oxford, a 20-lane, 36,000-square-foot center, opens May 15. The center will have 14 regular bowling lanes and six “boutique” lanes in a special VIP area that can be reserved for parties.

The center also will offer the “Action Alley Arcade,” laser maze, league play, a pro shop and full-service café with bar.

Reservations are now being accepted for birthday parties and corporate events via www.premierlanes.com.

– Andy Meek

Vanderbilt Poll: Majority Support Insure Tennessee

An overwhelming majority of Tennesseans support Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s failed proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income residents, according to a Vanderbilt University poll.

The results, released Wednesday, also show that about two in three voters say they think the state Legislature does not spend enough time on issues they care about. Still, the General Assembly’s 55 percent popularity rating remained unchanged from the university’s last poll in November.

Haslam’s Insure Tennessee proposal was defeated twice in Senate committees during the recently concluded legislative session.

But the poll of 1,001 registered voters finds that 78 percent want the full Legislature to vote on the proposal. Sixty-four percent said they support Insure Tennessee, while 19 percent said they oppose it.

The poll also suggests that Haslam will face a tough path in trying to build support for a gas tax increase in Tennessee. Just 25 percent said they support increasing the tax for the first time in 25 years. Forty-six percent said they would oppose an increase.

– The Associated Press

Haslam Point Man To Leave Administration

Mark Cate is leaving Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration after serving as Haslam’s campaign manager in 2010 and as the governor’s chief of staff after he took office.

Cate served as point man for many of the governor’s top legislative initiatives, including caps on payouts from successful civil lawsuits and changing teacher tenure rules. He also spearheaded this year’s failed effort to pass Haslam’s Insure Tennessee proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income people.

“Mark has been a key player and a valuable part of our team since my first campaign for governor,” Haslam said in a statement. “He is talented at keeping a lot of balls in the air at the same time and keeps us moving forward as a team.

Cate is the latest Cabinet member to leave early in Haslam’s second term. Others include former Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman; Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty; and chief legal counsel Herbert Slatery, who was appointed attorney general.

Cate was a political unknown when Haslam named the real estate developer and former Maryville College financial officer as his campaign manager in 2009. Cate navigated Haslam through a tricky GOP primary and to a resounding win in the general election.

“It has been the highlight and highest honor of my career to serve Governor Haslam and to be a part of the incredible team of talented women and men he has assembled,” Cate said in a release.

Cate was first named special adviser when Haslam took office, but was elevated to chief of staff after the retirement of adviser Claude Ramsey in 2013.

Cate often played the role of the enforcer as the Haslam administration tried to get lawmakers to approve key legislation. That hard line, though, was sometimes undercut by the governor’s own desire to avoid conflict and hard feelings.

Cate plans to establish a strategic consulting and management firm after leaving the Haslam administration this summer.

– The Associated Press

Wal-Mart to Test Unlimited Shipping for $50 Per Year

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will test a new unlimited shipping service for online shoppers this summer that will be priced below Amazon’s $99 per year Prime service.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the shipping subscription service will cost customers $50 a year. Products will arrive in three days or less.

Wal-Mart offers a grocery delivery and pickup service in five markets. But the unlimited shipping program marks a substantial commitment and underscores how serious the retailer is about accelerating the growth of its online business, which has seen a slowdown.

– The Associated Press

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 73 147 18,012
MORTGAGES 89 184 20,749
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 4 12 2,705
BUILDING PERMITS 117 258 37,094
BANKRUPTCIES 55 114 11,540
BUSINESS LICENSES 42 59 5,907
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 21 48 6,878
MARRIAGE LICENSES 27 68 4,117