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VOL. 130 | NO. 225 | Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Daily Digest

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Study: Medical Devices Bear $2.7B Impact in Shelby County

A new study released by the Greater Memphis Medical Device Council finds that the medical device industry makes up nearly 4 percent of the total GDP of Shelby County.

According to the study, the county’s medical device industry accounts for $2.7 billion in economic impact; 16,823 direct and indirect jobs; $1.2 billion in wages and more than $46 million in local property taxes.

Also, medical device manufacturing jobs in Shelby County had an average wage of $88,660, which is 66 percent higher than the county’s average wage.

“What we hope these details will shed light on is, despite minimal investment in medical device manufacturing workforce development, the industry provides some of the best career opportunities in our community,” said Gene Baker, GMMDC Chairman, and Smith & Nephew vice president.

An Economic Growth Engine for Memphis and Shelby County grant funded the study, which used data surveyed from 50-area medical device companies and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Younger and Associates prepared the report.

– Madeline Faber

Verso Paper Considers Bankruptcy Reorganization

Memphis-based Verso Corp. is considering bankruptcy reorganization as one of several restructuring options, company executives announced Monday, Nov. 16.

“We anticipate we will not have sufficient resources to fund our most significant future cash obligations and therefore, we believe that there is substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern in the absence of a restructuring of our balance sheet,” the paper company said in a Monday press release announcing third quarter 2015 earnings.

Verso makes printing and specialty papers and pulp for the North American market.

“As a result of our cash flow and liquidity concerns, we have begun evaluating potential restructuring alternatives,” the release continued.

Those options include talking with creditors about restructuring what the company owes and raising funds through selling mills.

In the third quarter, Verso idled its Wickliffe mill indefinitely and reduced capacity at its Androscoggin mill.

Both of those mills are specifically mentioned as possibly up for sale.

“Our potential restructuring could occur in a consensual, out of court manner or through a court supervised Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding,” the company added. “While we intend to actively pursue a potential restructuring and potential asset sales, there can be no assurance that any of these activities will occur on terms acceptable to us or at all.”

Verso’s net sales of $782 million in the quarter were up 123 percent compared to the $350 million in net sales a year ago. But adding in Verso’s recent acquisition of rival NewPage, the net sales figures declined.

Verso executives say that reflects a decline in U.S. demand for coated papers and an increase in offshort imports.

There is also an oversupply of the paper products Verso produces.

– Bill Dries

Jimmy Kimmel Joins St. Jude Campaign

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has a new participant this year for its annual “Thanks and Giving” campaign.

Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel joins a group of celebrities, media and more than 70 of the nation’s leading national brands asking consumers to support St. Jude while they shop this November and December.

Along with Kimmel, returning celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Sofia Vergara and others join St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital National Outreach director Marlo Thomas to star in national television spots and a star-studded movie trailer. The ads ask people to help transform the holiday season into a time of giving thanks by raising funds and awareness for the ongoing battle to end childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

The campaign’s national television spots air on network and cable television channels, as well as online, in both English and Spanish. The movie trailer appears in theaters nationwide and in Puerto Rico, including at Regal Entertainment Group, AMC Theatres, Cinemark USA, Carmike Cinemas, Malco Theatres and other cinemas.

All of the spots, as well as exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, will debut online in late November

– Andy Meek

U of M Autism Research Gets $3.2M Federal Grant

University of Memphis researchers have been awarded a $3.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for a study on early vocal development and predictions of autism.

The U of M School of Communication Sciences and Disorders will partner with Emory University and the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta on the project to examine early signs of delayed vocal development as a possible indicator of autism or other developmental disabilities.

Dr. Kim Oller, holder of the Plough Chair of Excellence in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, is the principal investigator for the University of Memphis, working with Dr. Eugene Buder, an associate professor, and Gordon Ramsay, the principal investigator at the Marcus Autism Center.

– Bill Dries

White House Highlights Memphis Tech Job Training

As it expands its TechHire initiative in Baltimore this week, the Obama administration, including the U.S. Labor Department, also is highlighting ongoing efforts in several other cities, including Memphis.

TechHire is an effort to train and place workers in tech jobs, and the Baltimore announcement will expand it with a $100 million grant competition.

The larger effort to fill an estimated 5.5 million tech jobs nationally began in March. It included a Memphis program to offer training for non-violent offenders in local jails and prisons in PC repair, networking and application development.

Seedco also is providing soft-skills training along with the tech-skill training provided by the Tennessee College of Applied Technology.

– Bill Dries

World Tennis Day Linked With St. Jude Ball Kid Program

Youth wanting to try out to be “ball kids” at the 2016 Memphis Open presented by ServiceMaster will get their opportunity in the coming weeks.

Tryouts will be held at The Racquet Club of Memphis from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 22, and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 6.

The Road to World Tennis Day, a GF Sports international tennis platform, starts with the Advantage St. Jude Ball Kid program as the tournament celebrates 40 years. The program offers youth 12 years and older a chance to apply for and audition for ball kids spots.

Kids also get a possible chance to compete in a fundraising competition to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; the grand prize for raising the most money is a trip to New York City to be a ball kid at the 9th Annual 2016 BNP Paribas Showdown on World Tennis Day, March 8, at Madison Square Garden. Serena Williams is among the players involved in the event.

Ball kid selections will be made by Dec. 10. The Memphis Open will be held Feb. 6-14 at The Racquet Club.

– Don Wade

AutoZone Taps New Senior Vice President

AutoZone is promoting Rick Smith, its vice president for store operations, to senior vice president of human resources and customer satisfaction in January.

That promotion comes as Mike Womack, AutoZone’s senior vice president for human resources and customer satisfaction, has decided to leave the company at the end of of the year and return to his home state of Ohio.

“Rick has over 30 years of experience as a proven leader within AutoZone,” AutoZone chairman, president and CEO Bill Rhodes said in a statement. “We are very excited and fortunate to have Rick move back to Memphis and be part of our Executive Committee.”

AutoZone sells auto and light truck parts, chemicals and accessories through about 5,600 stores in the U.S., Mexico and Brazil.

– Andy Meek

PROPERTY SALES 56 56 9,658
MORTGAGES 49 49 10,665
BUILDING PERMITS 212 212 21,170
BANKRUPTCIES 49 49 6,157