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VOL. 9 | NO. 35 | Saturday, August 27, 2016

Daily Digest

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County Commission Gives Agricenter $100,000 Grant

Agricenter International has received a $100,000 Shelby County Commission Community Enhancement Grant to further the completion of the Agricenter Trail.

Agricenter Trail, a Greenprint Certified Project, is a partially paved path that starts on the west at the Pick Your Own Strawberry Patch and ends at Agricenter Farmer's Market on the east. The trail showcases the agricultural character of the region and when completed will provide views of production crops, research plots and the solar farm.

The trail leads to the Farmer’s Market, which is a cultural resource and historic site as it is the original 1930’s dairy barn from the Shelby County Penal Farm. At the traffic light on Farm Road, the trail connects to the Greenline at Shelby Farms Park.

The vision for the trail started when Agricenter was founded in 1983.

– Don Wade

Construction Begins On Lamar Avenue Hotel

Sean Radford Construction recently filed a $1.5 million building permit for construction of a new hotel at 2876 Lamar Ave.

Developer Jay Kumar with Suna Investments said he is planning on a February opening for the 40-room hotel. The two-story property will also have a conference room, business center and swimming pool.

Suna Investments is soon to wrap up work on Hotel Napoleon, located Downtown at 179 Madison Ave. Kumar said he is aiming for an early September opening for the Napoleon.

– Madeline Faber

Pinnacle Financial Forms Local Investment Group

Pinnacle Financial Partners has formed an investment management group in Memphis.

The firm has hired two investment management professionals to advise clients as part of that new group. They are Pinnacle Asset Management senior vice president and financial consultant Brooks Fowler and registered sales assistant Robbin Gibson.

Fowler most recently was a financial adviser with Raymond James & Associates. Gibson comes from Morgan Stanley, where she was a registered sales assistant.

– Andy Meek

William Winter Added As Freedom Award Recipient

Former Mississippi Gov. William Winter will be among the recipients of the National Civil Rights Museum’s annual Freedom Awards in October.

The museum announced the addition on Thursday, Aug. 25.

The awards are marking their 25th anniversary this year, the same anniversary of the museum itself.

Winter served as Mississippi governor from 1980 to 1984 and was a departure from conservative governors of the state who preceded him in office.

Other recipients of the Freedom Award this year are civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump; Yemeni journalist Tawakkol Karman; Federal Appeals Court Judge Damon Keith; broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien; and Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson.

The awards ceremony, banquet and forum are Oct. 20.

– Bill Dries

Airline GLO Partners With Kayak for Bookings

New Orleans-based startup airline GLO has partnered with search engine Kayak to boost its visibility for business and leisure travelers.

The partnership is a first for GLO, which has only been booking directly through FlyGLO.com and by phone since the carrier launched last November.

The travel search engine will allow GLO customers to compare flight times and flight costs against other leading airlines.

GLO provides nonstop flights between Memphis International Airport and the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

– Madeline Faber

Medtronic Tops Profit Forecasts in First Quarter

Medtronic Inc. (MDT) on Thursday reported fiscal first-quarter earnings of $929 million.

The Dublin-based company said it had profit of 66 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to $1.03 per share.

The results beat Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 19 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.01 per share.

The medical device company posted revenue of $7.17 billion in the period, matching Street forecasts.

Medtronic Spine, which includes Memphis operations, reported revenue of $645 million, down 6 percent from a year ago, but flat when adjusted for currency exchange rates. The core Spine business grew in the low-single digits in the U.S., as new products and a focus on procedural innovation is driving improved results, the company reported.

Medtronic expects full-year earnings in the range of $4.60 to $4.70 per share.

Medtronic shares have climbed 13 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has increased slightly more than 6 percent. The stock has increased 22 percent in the last 12 months.

– The Associated Press

City of Hernando Awarded $400,000 Brownfields Grant

The city of Hernando has earned a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that will be used to clean up a brownfields site for redevelopment.

Grants of $325,000-$400,000 were issued to four Mississippi communities to go toward EPA cooperative agreements.

“It’s all about providing that initial funding, and sparking that first conversation to set stalled sites on a path toward smart, safe redevelopment that directly benefits communities,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement.

EPA’s Brownfields Program strives to expand the ability of communities to recycle vacant and abandoned properties for new, productive reuses. Brownfields grants provide resources early on, enabling partnerships to form between neighborhoods, local developers and governments to meet their revitalization goals.

The site in Hernando was once occupied by Reliable Equipment.

“The Reliable Equipment property is a brownfields site assessed with our last EPA grant,” Hernando Mayor Chip Johnson said. “A local developer will clean-up and redevelop the property, making our downtown retail corridor more attractive, and stimulate our economy.”

Studies have shown that residential property values near brownfields sites that are cleaned up increased between 5 percent and 15 percent, and can help increase overall property values within a mile of the site.

There are an estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites in America. Since its inception in 1995, the EPA’s Brownfields Program has leveraged more than $20 billion from public and private sources for cleanup and redevelopment projects. These investments have resulted in approximately 108,924 jobs nationwide, according to EPA.

– Daily News staff

State Bonds Sell For Record Low Interest Rate

The state of Tennessee has completed the sale of approximately $366 million of general obligation bonds for the lowest interest ever negotiated in the state’s history, according to the Comptroller’s Office.

The debt offering was sold in three series of bonds. The proceeds will be used to fund new capital projects and refinance currently outstanding bonds at the lower interest rate.

The refinancing will save Tennessee taxpayers $22.8 million over the next 15 years.

The Comptroller’s Office reported the true interest rate cost for the bonds was only 2.16 percent.

It was Tennessee’s first bond offering since the state received an upgrade of its bond rating to AAA from Standard & Poor’s in May 2016.

Tennessee’s highly rated credit sparked strong demand from investors and favorable market conditions helped keep interest rates extremely low, the office said.

“It gives me great pleasure to announce yet another history-making Tennessee bond sale,” said Comptroller Justin P. Wilson. “The Tennessee General Assembly and Governor (Bill) Haslam have worked hard to place Tennessee in an incredibly strong financial position. Tennesseans are benefiting from the lowest interest rates in state history. It’s good to be a triple, triple-A state.”

– Daily News staff

Methodist Signs $12.9M Technology Contract

Methodist Healthcare has signed a $12.9 million technology contract with Johnson Controls, the North American headquarters of which is in Milwaukee, to help modernize Methodist University Hospital, the system’s flagship.

The partnership is part of a $280 million modernization project that will restructure the campus and centralize clinical services. The expansion plan adds 440,000 square feet to the hospital’s campus and includes a new nine-story patient tower to be constructed as an overbuild on top of the existing emergency department.

Methodist will also invest in state-of-the-art health care equipment and is making the Johnson Controls technology integration solution a key component of the new construction.

Johnson Controls will incorporate a variety of technologies throughout the new tower, helping Methodist Healthcare improve its overall efficiency with integrated business, clinical and building systems. Construction of the new patient tower is expected to start in January and be completed in the spring of 2019.

– Andy Meek

Downtown Animal Hospital Moving to Victorian Village

Downtown Animal Hospital will relocate from its current facility at 347 N. Third St. in the Pinch District to 660 Jefferson Ave. in Victorian Village.

The Downtown practice – which recently formed a strategic partnership with The Pet Hospitals, a collective of Memphis-area veterinary practices – expects to make the move in late August, with the new facility opening the week of Aug. 29.

With the move, Downtown Animal Hospital will begin offering boarding and doggie day care as well as professional grooming services. The larger facility also will have expanded hours for weekend appointments.

Dr. Jackie Courtney will join practicing vets Dr. Susanne Heartsill and Dr. Trudy Dunlap at the Downtown location. Courtney’s specialties include critical pet care, internal medicine and exotic animal medicine.

The Pet Hospitals has made recent hires at two of its other clinics. Dr. Lindsey Brown, whose focus areas include preventive care, client education and feline medicine, will join the Cordova location at 1144 N. Houston Levee Road. Dr. Raelyn Pirtle, a specialist in internal medicine, infectious diseases, oncology and diagnostic imaging, will join the East Memphis location at 6300 Poplar Ave.

– Madeline Faber

Beale Authority Eliminates Two Potential Managers

As Brian Saulsberry’s DSG Group was being ruled out from a role in a renovated Mid-South Coliseum at City Hall Tuesday, Aug. 23, the Beale Street Tourism Development Authority dropped DSG from consideration to be the day-to-day manager of the entertainment district.

The authority also dropped ML Properties, the company that puts on the annual Delta Fair and other fairs and expos across the country, from the list of potential managers.

ML Properties is headed by Mark Lovell, who recently upset Republican state Rep. Curry Todd in the August primaries for the Tennessee Legislature. Lovell’s company also made a proposal to run Mud Island River Park for the Riverfront Development Corp.

The Beale authority’s action Tuesday leaves 21 Beale as the only applicant for the manager’s job on Beale Street. But it doesn’t mean an automatic contract for 21 Beale, a group that’s headed by Memphis native and Chicago real estate investor and nightclub owner Dwain Kyles along with a group of Memphis principals. The authority board is still talking with the group and seeking to get more certainty around its proposal.

Some on the authority board are also concerned about 21 Beale’s lack of experience in managing a district. But other board members have said since the outset of the process that it would be difficult to find someone with the experience to run Beale Street’s day-to-day affairs because of the uniqueness of the three-block district with a considerable history and heritage.

It and ML Properties were among the applicants in the first round of requests for proposals put out by the authority.

The authority decided to seek more proposals while keeping those from the first round in the pool.

– Bill Dries

Council Rejects Residency Requirement Referendum

Memphis City Council members voted down on third and final reading Tuesday, Aug. 23, a referendum ordinance that would have put a new residency requirement for city employees to voters on the November ballot.

Only councilmen Martavius Jones, who sponsored the measure, and Edmund Ford voted for the referendum on a requirement that all future full-time city employees must live in the city.

The next opportunity for such a referendum would be in 2018.

But the council approved a resolution by councilwoman Patrice Robinson to form a task force to work with the deannexation task force to discuss the residency issue.

The current city requirement is that city employees must live within Shelby County.

In other action Tuesday, the council approved a resolution by Jones urging the Tennessee Valley Authority to abandon any plans to drill a water well into the Memphis Sands aquifer to supply water for the TVA plant being built at Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park.

The natural gas plant is to replace the nearby Allen Fossil Plant.

And council members delayed action on $150,000 in funding for the Overton Park Conservancy, citing a lawsuit filed against the council earlier this year alleging the council violated the state Open Meetings Law in the Overton Park Greensward controversy.

Councilman Berlin Boyd said the conservancy was involved in the filing of the lawsuit filed by two citizens. The OPC is not a plaintiff in the Chancery Court action that was recently dismissed.

Boyd and other council members say they will hold up the OPC funding until the plaintiffs agree to end the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning it could not be refiled. The lawsuit has been dismissed without prejudice, meaning it could be refiled in the next year.

Jones said there is no proof or evidence the OPC was involved in the lawsuit and he argued that tying up conservancy funding is “trying to silence any kind of opposition.”

The council approved a set of 5 resolutions totaling $4.2 million in capital funding for various technology projects of the city’s Information Services division.

– Bill Dries

Evergreen Packaging Expands in East Memphis

Evergreen Packaging has renewed and expanded its lease at the 5350 Poplar Ave. office building in East Memphis.

The 40,000-square-foot location will be the global headquarters for Evergreen, a spinoff of International Paper’s paper packaging division located in Memphis since 2007.

Evergreen recently merged with Indianapolis-based Closure Systems International and York, Pa.-based Graham Packaging Co., creating a combined company with $5.5 billion in annual revenue.

Ron Kastner, senior vice president at CBRE, said that construction will soon begin on Evergreen’s expansion, with move-in to occur within the next three to four months.

In March, the Memphis-Shelby County Economic Development Growth Engine awarded Evergreen Packaging a 15-year tax freeze, saving the company $1.2 million in property taxes. At the time, Evergreen said it was considering moving its 103 employees out of Shelby County and relocating the company out-of-state.

By expanding in Memphis, the company will add 70 more employees in management, support and administration with an average salary of $176,283.

– Madeline Faber

Tenn. Health Exchange Premiums to Rise in 2017

Consumers who have individual health insurance through Tennessee’s health care marketplace can expect to pay higher rates in 2017.

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance on Tuesday, Aug. 23, approved and released final rates for individual Affordable Care Act plans offered through the state’s health care marketplace.

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee will raise rates by 62 percent in 2017. Cigna’s rates will increase 46.5 percent, and Humana’s rates will rise 44.3 percent. Aetna, which doesn’t offer marketplace plans, will raise premiums on its other individual health care plans 14 percent.

United HealthCare has decided to exit the Tennessee exchange in 2017.

The rate increases apply to individual policies, both on and off the marketplace, but don’t affect group policies.

Open enrollment dates for 2017 run from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31. The new rates go into effect Jan. 1.

– Daily News staff

State Rep. Curry Todd Set for Oct. 11 Trial Date

Outgoing state Rep. Curry Todd of Collierville is scheduled for an Oct. 11 trial date on a misdemeanor charge of theft.

Todd is specifically charged with stealing the campaign signs of his August Republican primary rival Mark Lovell.

Todd has claimed that he had permission from the property owner to remove the signs.

Todd lost his re-election bid in the primary to Lovell. It was Lovell who posted Todd’s bail for his release from jail pending the trial.

– Bill Dries

Ferguson to be Starting QB For Memphis Tigers

First-year University of Memphis football coach Mike Norvell has named junior Riley Ferguson starting quarterback. The Tigers open the season on Sept. 3 vs. Southeast Missouri State at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

Coming out of high school in North Carolina, Ferguson was a prized recruit. He signed with Tennessee, bypassing offers from Alabama and Notre Dame. But Ferguson’s time at UT was short-lived; he left in 2014 and landed at Coffeyville Community College, where he passed for almost 3,000 yards and threw 35 touchdowns.

The starter in the spring game, Ferguson was considered the odds-on favorite to win the QB job. Also in the competition were redshirt freshman Brady Davis, freshman David Moore and redshirt senior Jason Stewart.

– Don Wade

United Housing Garners High State Rankings

United Housing Inc. is one of the top housing producers in the state, according to the Tennessee Housing Development Agency.

For fiscal year 2016, UHI generated a financial impact of $37.7 million and helped 437 individuals keep or buy a home. It funded $13.5 million in total loans across 118 customers, which makes it the fourth-largest home loan producer in the state.

The high rankings come during a productive fiscal year in which UHI received $1.3 million in investments from local banks, including Pinnacle Financial Partners, SunTrust Bank and First Tennessee Bank.

– Madeline Faber

Meritan Awarded $41K For Smart Home Program

Memphis-based Meritan Inc. has been awarded a $41,000 grant from the Consumer Technology Association Foundation in support of Meritan’s Smart Home program, created to enhance the lives of disabled citizens in Memphis and the Mid-South.

The CTA Foundation is a public, national foundation with the mission to link seniors and people with disabilities with technologies to enhance their lives.

Meritan’s Smart Home program is the only program in the Southeast designed specifically to foster increased levels of care for people with disabilities.

By November, two of Meritan’s homes will be equipped with high-tech capabilities, including monitors, camera, sensors and tablets that will create a remote patient-monitoring system. The equipment will be designed so Meritan’s health care staff can remotely observe and understand what is happening at each residence.

Meritan plans to expand the Smart Home program throughout its residential services. It will partner with Sengistix LLC, a Mendota Heights, Minn.-based company specializing in technological advances in health and safety supervision for vulnerable populations.

– Daily News staff

UTHSC Names New Chair Of Pathology Department

Dr. Mahul Amin has been named chairman of the department of pathology in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and will be the UTHSC Gerwin Chair for cancer research.

Amin comes to UTHSC from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was chairman and professor of pathology and laboratory medicine. He was also a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of California David Geffen School of Medicine.

From 2001 to 2009 – first as vice chair and then as chair of the Cancer Committee of the College of American Pathologists – he campaigned for a standardized system for pathologic reporting of all cancer cases in the United States.

Amin is the editor in chief of the eighth edition of the American Joint Commission on Cancer TNM staging system, which is the premier global classifier for cancer and is used worldwide.

Amin said UTHSC is attractive because it is “in an extraordinary transformational phase” with “a growing research environment. Advances in science, genomics, informatics and laboratory medicine also provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the discipline of pathology, which is also experiencing its most exciting and transformative phase.”

– Daily News staff

Southern Airways to Begin Two New Regional Routes

On Sept. 26, Southern Airways will launch nonstop service between Memphis International Airport to Nashville and Jackson, Miss.

The flights between MEM and Nashville International Airport will operate daily, with the exception on Saturday. The addition restores service between MEM and Nashville’s BNA for the first time since 2013. Information about flights to Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport was not available at press time.

Southern Airways will use a 10-seat Cessna Caravan for the flights, which will arrive and depart from the Signature Flight Support executive terminal at 2488 Winchester Road.

“We believe that many business travelers will rejoice at the return of nonstop service to Nashville,” said Pace Cooper, chairman of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority board, in a statement. “It’s essential that the reinvention of MEM includes service to both large metro markets and key regional airports. Adding Nashville and Jackson to our lineup helps to achieve that latter goal.”

– Madeline Faber

MATA Set to Unveil Service Route Changes

The Memphis Area Transit Authority outlined a set of proposed service route changes, including eight new routes, at a listening session Thursday, Aug. 25.

If approved by the MATA board, which will vote at a later date, the proposals would take effect in December.

The changes also include minor timing adjustments to 11 existing routes, increased frequencies or span of service for 10 existing routes, routing adjustments to 14 routes and a single discontinued route that would be replaced by the other changes.

The adjustments represent $500,000 of changes to service.

– Bill Dries

Grizz, Pinnacle Financial Announce Partnership

The Memphis Grizzlies and Pinnacle Financial Partners have announced a new multiyear partnership, making Pinnacle the official bank of the Memphis Grizzlies and FedExForum.

The partnership will introduce Grizzlies Banking – which includes a dedicated product suite of co-branded debit and credit cards offered by Pinnacle. Grizzlies Banking with Pinnacle will launch prior to the 2016-17 season tip-off; more information is available at grizzliesbanking.com.

Along with Grizzlies Banking, the partnership will provide exclusive naming rights to the newly-dubbed Pinnacle Level concourse and seating area of FedExForum (formerly known as the Club Level). A final cornerstone of the partnership is the presenting rights to the Grizzlies television broadcasts live on FOX Sports Southeast. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Tennessee-based Pinnacle Financial Partners broke into the Memphis market in 2015 when it acquired Magna Bank. In late July the company signed on as the first tenant in Boyle Investment Co.’s long-awaited Ridgeway Center office building. Plans call for Pinnacle to move its Memphis headquarters into an anchor space in the building, which the company expects to do sometime in 2017.

– Don Wade

Landmark Bank Reports Improved Earnings

Through the first half of 2016, Collierville-based Landmark Community Bank reported improved earnings with net income of $4 million as of June 30, a 21.6 percent increase over the same period in 2015.

Return on average equity for the six-month period ended June 30 was also 11.54 percent compared to 11.31 percent for the same period in 2015, while return on average assets was unchanged at a little less than 1 percent for both six-month periods in 2016 and 2015.

The bank’s mid-year filing with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. shows loan and deposit volumes improved during the first six months of 2016, while the bank’s efficiency ratio continued to hover near peer lows.

As of June 30, the bank reported assets of nearly $862 million and deposits of just over $681 million. Since the 2015 mid-year report, Landmark’s net loan origination has increased by nearly $120 million and deposits by approximately $73 million.

For the first six months of 2016, net loan origination increased $54 million and deposits increased $16 million.

– Andy Meek

Business Owner Faces Prison for Not Paying Taxes

A Germantown resident and business owner has been sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay more than $10 million in restitution for failing to pay employment taxes to the Internal Revenue Service.

According to court documents, Larry Thornton, 67, was the majority owner, president and CEO of Software Earnings Inc., a Memphis company that produced and installed check processing. He was also the 100 percent owner, CEO and president of First Touch Payment Solutions LLC, a Memphis company that provided merchant services for credit card processing.

Starting in 2007, Thornton caused SEI to stop paying the taxes withheld from employees’ paychecks and caused SEI to stop timely filing required quarterly federal tax returns with the IRS. In the first quarter of 2010, he caused First Touch to stop paying its federal employment taxes and file its quarterly tax returns.

Between 2007 and 2011, Thornton collected more than $6.8 million in employment taxes that he failed to pay to the IRS. He also failed to pay his companies’ matching share of FICA taxes during those years. During that time period, two of Thornton’s full-time accountants resigned due to his unwillingness to comply with the tax obligations.

During the same years in which Thornton failed to comply with his employment tax obligations, he spent more than $6.2 million from the business bank accounts on personal expenses, including house and condominium payments; vehicle, yacht and motorcycle loan payments; personal travel; and startup funding for his wife’s beauty boutique.

According to court documents, he also failed to file personal and corporate income tax returns.

As part of the guilty plea, Thornton admitted that his illegal conduct caused a tax loss of more than $8.9 million to the IRS. In addition to the prison term, he was ordered to serve two years of supervised release. Thornton also was ordered to pay $10.8 million in restitution to the IRS.

– Daily News staff

No More ‘Dixie’ Played At Ole Miss Football Games

The University of Mississippi has announced it will longer play “Dixie” at football games at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

The move comes as Ole Miss completes renovations and improvements to the football stadium that will increase capacity, replace the artificial turf surface with natural grass, and introduce a new video board. The University of Memphis play at Ole Miss on Saturday, Oct. 1.

An athletic department statement indicated that “Dixie,” which is a symbol of the Old South, was being replaced by something “more inclusive” for all Ole Miss fans and as part of a new pregame show.

Last year the university stopped displaying the state flag, which includes the Confederate emblem. Years earlier, Ole Miss discontinued use of longtime mascot Colonel Rebel.

– Don Wade

Terminix Buys Hawaiian Pest Control Company

ServiceMaster company Terminix has acquired Sandwich Isle Pest Solutions, one of the largest privately held pest control companies on the Hawaiian Islands.

Founded in 1997, Sandwich Isle provides termite and pest control services to thousands of customers throughout Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Molokai and the Big Island.

“The acquisition of Sandwich Isle is an important strategic step in expanding our business on the Hawaiian Islands, an important region for termite, mosquito and general pest activity,” said Rob Gillette, CEO of ServiceMaster.

Jason Bailey, vice president of mergers and acquisition for ServiceMaster, added that his team will continue to seek out acquisitions of residential and commercial services companies with respected brands as part of ServiceMaster’s overall growth strategy.

– Madeline Faber

Third Chipotle Restaurant Coming to Memphis Area

Cordova is getting a Chipotle Mexican Grill. A $300,000 building permit was filed to turn a property at 695 N. Germantown Parkway into a fast-casual restaurant. Chipotle is listed as owner and tenant.

The location, which is on the west side of Germantown Parkway across from Trinity Commons, will be Chipotle’s third Memphis-area restaurant. Other locations are at 5865 Poplar Ave. and inside Wolfchase Galleria mall.

– Madeline Faber

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 97 418 8,253
MORTGAGES 112 508 9,293
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 7 32 1,160
BUILDING PERMITS 194 1,059 18,126
BANKRUPTCIES 46 208 5,367
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 125 3,507
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 98 2,366
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 84 1,676