VOL. 9 | NO. 8 | Saturday, February 20, 2016
Agricenter President John Charles Wilson Retiring
John Charles Wilson, president of Agricenter International, will be stepping down on July 1, 2016, after 15 years with the organization, but will continue on as a consultant on an as-needed basis.
The Agricenter board of directors has been actively looking at a field of candidates for his replacement.
Under Wilson’s leadership, two global agricultural corporations, Bayer CropScience and Helena Chemical Co., invested $20 million in high tech facilities on the Agricenter property.
This major expansion occurred without any government or taxpayer incentives. Startup companies like Delta BioRenewables and AgSmarts also leverage the Agricenter’s research farm capabilities, bringing economic development opportunities to agriculture.
Wilson is passionate about environmental education and the importance of engaging school-aged children with their food source.
Each year, Agricenter hosts over 4,000 children from across West Tennessee, helping them learn about sustainable agriculture and the importance of healthy eating.
Also under Wilson’s leadership, the Farmers Market vendors donate what they do not sell at the market, 19,000 pounds of fresh produce and bread annually, for needy families across the Memphis area. He has been an advocate for conservation stewardship in Tennessee for 40 years.
In the late 1990s, he was appointed by Gov. Don Sundquist to serve on the State of Tennessee Water Quality Control Board. He is an active member of the Memphis Agricultural Club, Tennessee & American Soybean Association and West Tennessee No-Till Farmers Association.
In 2014, Wilson was honored with placement in the prestigious Southeast National Association of Conservation Districts Hall of Fame for his lifetime commitment to conservation and agriculture. In 2015, Wilson received the Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award for Lifetime Achievement which is given to an individual who has devoted at least 25 years of effective and valuable service to Tennessee’s environmental protection or conservation stewardship.
– Don Wade
Norvell Adds Two More Tigers Football Coaches
University of Memphis football coach Mike Norvell has made two more hires to his coaching staff.
Mark Bonis joins the Tiger football staff as the director of Player Personnel, while Kenny Dillingham joins the staff as a graduate assistant working with the Memphis quarterbacks.
Bonis comes to Memphis from Brother Martin High School in New Orleans. He has been on staff at Brother Martin since 2006, serving as a football and track coach. He led the Crusaders football team to the Louisiana Division I semifinals in 2014 and to the quarterfinals in 2015. He was a finalist for the NFL/New Orleans Saints Coach of the Year in 2014, when his team set school records for yards, points and rushing touchdowns. Bonis also served as a graduate assistant at Sam Houston State from 2002-2003, helping to coach the tight ends and the offensive line.
Dillingham has spent the past two seasons at Arizona State, where Norvell previously was an assistant coach and offensive coordinator.
In 2014, Dillingham served as a quality control intern, working with the tight ends and assisting with recruiting and was named a graduate assistant in 2015, working with the offense.
Prior to that, Dillingham served as an assistant football coach at Chaparral High School. A graduate of Arizona State, he also served as a football camp manager for the City of Scottsdale from 2009-2013 and was been a part of the Athletes in Training program in Phoenix from 2008-2010.
– Don Wade
UPS Appeals Brazil’s Nod For FedEx-TNT Merger
A third party has appealed Brazil’s approval of FedEx Corp.’s acquisition of TNT, the companies jointly announced Feb. 18.
The Wall Street Journal and other sources identified the third party as FedEx rival United Parcel Service Inc.
UPS tried to acquire TNT in 2013, but was blocked by the European Union due to concerns over “too little competition” in the market if TNT was to leave, according to Bloomberg.
UPS currently is appealing the EU’s rejection of its earlier, higher bid for TNT (UPS offered $6.9 billion) and is lobbying to block FedEx.
On Feb. 2, Brazil’s Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Econômica became the third antitrust entity to approve the takeover.
To secure the $4.9 billion acquisition, the offer needs approval from the European Union, Brazil, China and the U.S. Approval from China’s regulatory body is outstanding.
In the joint statement, FedEx said that it is confident the TNT acquisition will close in the first half of 2016
– Madeline Faber
Women’s Theatre Festival Seeking Play Submissions
The Women’s Theatre Festival of Memphis is accepting play submissions for its biennial festival, scheduled for July 10-16 at Hattiloo Theatre, 37 S. Cooper St.
This marks the third festival for the organization, which was founded in 2012 by Memphians Karen Moore and Ruby O’Gray and incorporated as a nonprofit the following year. Its goals are to provide educational and performance opportunities for women and to celebrate the contribution of women in the theater arts industry.
All submitted plays should either be written by, directed by or feature a storyline about a woman or women. While out-of-town entries are welcome, the organization says it would like to see more playwrights from the Memphis area submitting their works.
The fee is $35 for theater companies and $25 for individuals, and the deadline is Feb. 28.
Though WTFM showcases plays by and about women, both men and women participate in the festival as performers, stage crew and production staff.
The organization also is inviting male playwrights to contact them about submissions if their play is female-driven or is directed by a female. For more information, visit womenstheatrefestivalofmemphis.org.
– Kate Simone
Baker and Swilley Partners at Wyatt Tarrant & Combs
Attorneys Marjorie S. Baker and David L. Swilley have been named partners at Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs LLP law firm.
The regional law firm made the announcement Thursday, Feb. 18.
Baker and Swilley are on the law firm’s trusts, estates and personal planning team.
Baker’s practice is in probate, trust administration and elder law. She is a past chair of the Memphis Bar Association’s Estate Planning and Probate Section.
Swilley’s practice is in estate planning, taxation and business advisory issues.
He is certified as an estate planning specialist by the Estate Law Specialist Board Inc. and he is a Certified Public Accountant.
– Bill Dries
Zoo Unveils Okapi Giraffe As Part of Hippo Camp Exhibit
The Memphis Zoo’s Zambezi River Hippo Camp, which will resemble an African village and be stocked with animals including hippos, crocodiles and flamingos, will also have a unique occupant that’s already begun getting accustomed to its new home at the zoo.
It’s an okapi giraffe named Miraq, the appearance of which looks like a cross between a zebra and a giraffe.
Okapis, according to the zoo, have zebra-like stripes and a long neck like that of a giraffe. They generally weigh between 400 and 700 pounds.
Miraq will be one piece of an exhibit that’s been under construction for two years and will also include four large crocodiles, which have also already arrived at the zoo. Matt Thompson, director of the zoo’s animal program, said there will also be an interactive area for children with drums and masks.
The hippos, he added, will also be fun to watch, as they’re actually “very light on their feet and graceful in the water.”
Introduced to the media Wednesday, Feb. 17, in an enclosed grassy space, Miraq didn’t seem to mind the proximity of strangers. He walked back and forth at a languid pace, interrupted only by occasional trips to a nearby wall, in front of which a container of water was waiting for him to dip his head down and lap up.
– Andy Meek
Israeli Firm Purchases Industrial Park for $13M
Faropoint Investments, an Israel-based real estate firm, has purchased the Outland Business Center for $13 million, now its largest holding in the area.
On Feb. 11, Faropoint closed on the Southeast Memphis park, which includes five industrial buildings totaling more than 400,000 square feet at Outland Center Drive and Burbank Road.
Brian Califf with NAI Saig Co. represented Faropoint in the acquisition, while Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors represented the seller, Huntington Industrial Partners.
Faropoint entered the Memphis market in 2011 and owns 500,000 square feet of office and retail space, not including the recent purchase.
– Madeline Faber
Tentative Agreement Emerges for Pinch Hotel
After six months of negotiations and delays in votes by the Memphis City Council, there is an agreement for the construction of a hotel with retail space across Front Street from The Pyramid.
The council delayed a vote on the development Tuesday, Feb. 16, until the March 1 council meeting.
But the delay to the March 1 council meeting is to formalize a tentative agreement between the developers, Front Street Group LLC, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Greater Memphis Chamber.
The development was delayed starting last September because of opposition by the hospital and others as the hospital develops an $8 billion plan for its expansion and further development of the Pinch District.
In other planning and development items Tuesday, the council approved a used-car lot at Chelsea Avenue and Tunica Street as well as another car lot at 5172 S. Third St. The local Office of Planning and Development opposed the Third Street car lot, citing the presence of numerous other car lots in the area.
Council members also approved a set of street alley closures south of Southern Avenue that are part of a campus master plan for the University of Memphis.
The council also changed the zoning of the three corners opposite the Nike Inc. North America Distribution Center at New Allen Road and New Frayser Boulevard for development as similar employment centers by Belz Investco.
And the council approved a tractor-trailer yard at McCorkle and Brooks roads for the second time in two months. Council member Edmund Ford Jr. moved for reconsideration of the development earlier this month.
– Bill Dries
Pediatric Simulator to Be Unveiled at Le Bonheur
The Mid-South Emergency Planning Coalition has granted disaster preparedness funding to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital to purchase a pediatric hi-fidelity simulator for their educational outreach as a Comprehensive Regional Pediatric Center.
That’s according to the Tennessee Emergency Medical Services for Children, which says the simulators will offer hospitals and EMS agencies hands-on training in an effort to educate the emergency providers about the unique needs of children.
A simulator training session is set for Tuesday, Feb. 16, at Le Bonheur.
TN EMSC is a statewide program that works with a network of partners including children’s hospitals, nonprofits, EMS and policymakers, to ensure every child in Tennessee receives top pediatric emergency care.
A recent report released from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that children are particularly susceptible to illness and injury during disasters and pandemics.
– Andy Meek
Colliers' Tim Mashburn Earns Top Performer Award
Local real estate broker Tim Mashburn was recognized as one of Colliers International Group Inc.’s top performers in 2015 across the U.S., Canada and Latin America.
Mashburn was honored last week at Colliers’ largest annual meeting, held in Washington D.C.
As a member of the Colliers 2015 Everest Club, Mashburn has made it into the top 10 percent of the real estate firm’s producers.
“Tim’s success this past year is indicative of his career. His clients love him and brokers love to do business with him,” Colliers International-Memphis president and CEO Andy Cates said in a statement. “We are very fortunate to have Tim on our team and congratulate him with this prestigious honor.”
– Madeline Faber
Frost Bake Shop Heads To Collierville for 2nd Store
An East Memphis bakery is preparing to add a second location in Collierville. Frost Bake Shop co-owner Bill Kloos Jr. says his sweet treat shop has picked out a spot at 1016 W. Poplar Ave. for store num- ber two.
The deal was all but finished at week’s end, and he says the staff has already been informed about the new location, which will be identical to the current Laurel- wood store – “Frost 1,” as Kloos calls it – in terms of the items sold.
One thing that will be different is the size – 3,400 square feet in Collierville, versus 2,000 square feet in Laurelwood.
“This was the next spot on our list,” Kloos said. “We wanted to be far enough away from Frost 1. We still plan to do one more store in the area, possibly two.”
Once renovation work is finished, he anticipates a possible July or August opening.
Another new feature of the new store, thanks to the extra space – he said they’ll use the additional room to hold things like possibly cooking classes, with small par- ties another possibility.
The expansion comes about three years on from the opening of the Laurelwood location in August 2013.
– Andy Meek
Memphis Development Foundation Adds 4 to Board
The Memphis Development Foundation, the nonprofit organization that operates The Orpheum Theatre and the new Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education, has four new board members.
They are John Bobango, chief manager/ partner at Farris Bobango PLC; Doug Browne, president at Peabody Hotels & Resorts; Kevin McEniry, CEO of nexAir; and Brian Sullivan, principal and CEO at Sullivan Branding.
Foundation board members serve two-year terms and are eligible to serve three consecutive terms.
– Andy Meek
Barnes & Noble Hosting ‘Inside Ferguson’ Author
Devin James, author of “Inside Ferguson: A Voice for the Voiceless,” will give a lecture and hold a book signing Thursday, Feb. 25, at 6 p.m. at Barnes & Noble Wolfchase, 2774 N. Germantown Parkway.
James is a Memphis resident and the founder of DJG, formerly known as the Devin James Group. In 2014, the group served as the only minority-owned firm requested by the leadership of St. Louis’ Economic Development agency to work
in Ferguson, Mo., to improve relations between Ferguson’s black community and its all-white leadership.
James will give a short presentation from his “Inside Ferguson” study guide, which will be used at public schools, com- munity colleges and universities. He also will sign copies of the book.
The book currently is available for purchase at the Wolfchase Barnes & Noble and online at barnesandnoble.com.
– Don Wade
Strickland to Sign Police Director Search Contract
It will cost the city $30,000 to $40,000 for the national search for a Memphis police director.
That is the estimate from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which will be conducting the search for the city.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland is expected to sign the contract for the job search this week.
The national search follows the departure of Toney Armstrong last month to become director of security for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Michael Rallings, a deputy chief under Armstrong, is the interim police director. He also is eligible to apply for the job.
Strickland has estimated the city should have a permanent police director hired by the summer.
– Bill Dries
Lecture Targets Women First in Their Profession
The American Association of University Women’s Memphis chapter is hosting a lecture featuring speakers who are or were the first women in their workplace positions.
Guest speakers at the “Trailblazers: Women On The Move” program include Dr. Tracy Hall, president of Southwest Tennessee Community College; Dr. Shirley Raines, former president of the University of Memphis; Virzola Law, senior pastor at Lindenwood Christian Church; and Gina Sweat, director of the Memphis Fire Department.
The event, which is open to the public, takes place March 5 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar Ave.
– Madeline Faber
Alabama Shakes to Play Mud Island on July 15
The day after they won three Grammys, the Alabama Shakes announced they will play the Mud Island Amphitheatre on July 15.
Tickets to the show go on sale Friday, Feb. 19.
The Alabama Shakes’ second LP, “Sound and Color,” won the Grammy for Best Alternative Album, while the song “Don’t Wanna Fight” won for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance.
– Bill Dries
Logistics Accelerator Now Taking Applications
Applications are now open for the 2016 EPIcenter Logistics Innovation Accelerator.
The program, sponsored by FedEx and operated by EPIcenter, was created to help startups bring logistics products and technologies to market. It’s a 15-week program for startups investigating transportation- or logistics-oriented solutions within areas including fleet efficiency, autonomous vehicles, robotics and more.
Through a competitive application process, up to six companies will be chosen for the 2016 cohort and will receive $50,000 in initial seed capital, including $25,000 from Innova, a Memphis-based venture capital firm that’s invested in more than 60 early-stage companies and co-founded the ZeroTo510 Medical Device Accelerator with Memphis Bioworks, and a $25,000 match from EPIcenter.
In addition to the opportunity to work with mentors, the accelerator concludes with a public Demo Day. The deadline for submitting applications is March 18, with a targeted cohort start date of May 2.
– Andy Meek
Visible College to Launch Center for Memphis Music
Visible Music College plans to spend 2016 expanding its global reach with the launch of new academic “centers” as part of founder and president Dr. Ken Steorts’ 2020x2020 vision.
The first, launching this month, is the Center for Memphis Music. It will have a physical office at the college’s Downtown location. Steorts says the center will allow for regular scholarly activity around Memphis’ music legacy by Visible Music College students and broaden existing partnerships with Memphis museums, colleges and institutes.
In addition to the support of legacy projects – such as the Johnny Cash project in Cooper-Young, with a marker and statue – Steorts sees the Center for Memphis Music eventually managing a live music show, showcasing and developing Memphis artists performing original music.
The center will also provide a place for training music business and production professionals, as well as musicians, on presenting and promoting live original music from Memphis.
An early partner for the center is the Mike Curb Institute at Rhodes College. The Center for Memphis Music will be followed by three similar academic centers in 2016 as part of Steorts’ 2020x2020 vision.
– Andy Meek
St. Jude Chooses Pat Keel As Chief Financial Officer
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has tapped a new finance chief.
Pat Keel is the hospital’s new CFO and will lead the hospital’s financial strategy and management as St. Jude embarks on a $7 billion, six-year plan for conquering cancer and other childhood diseases.
She most recently was with University Health System in Shreveport, La., where she served as chief financial officer and senior vice president.
In addition, she held leadership roles with Good Shepherd Health System in Longview, Texas, and CHRISTUS Schumpert Health System in Shreveport.
– Andy Meek
Dresses Needed For Memphis Prom Closet
Oak Court Mall is collecting new and gently used prom dresses through March 4 to benefit Brown Girl Dreams and the 2016 Memphis Prom Closet.
The Prom Closet provides prom dresses free of charge to high school seniors who would otherwise not have the opportunity to participate in prom activities. Brown Girl Dreams, which is celebrating its fifth year, sponsors girls from Northside High, Douglass High, Soulsville Charter School and the Hollis F. Price Middle College.
Members of the community can donate new or gently worn prom dresses, shoes and accessories at the Guest Services booth in the mall, 4465 Poplar Ave. Dress drop-off times are noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday.
The fourth annual prom party – at which girls will be able to choose their dresses – is scheduled for March 12 at Oak Court.
For more information, visit browngirldreams.org or call the organization at 901-213-7648.
– Kate Simone
‘Mojo of Midtown’ Honorees Announced
The Midtown Memphis Development Corp. is set to honor seven individuals and organizations for their “mojo” in promoting and preserving the Midtown area.
The 2016 Mojo of Midtown Awards honorees, as announced by the MMDC this week, are Ekundayo Bandele of Hattiloo Theatre; June West of Memphis Heritage Inc.; Dr. Scott Morris of the Church Health Center; Ardent Studios; Wiles-Smith Drug Store; Indie Memphis; and the Broad Avenue Arts District.
The awards will be presented at the Mojo of Midtown Bash on March 30 at 7 p.m. at Circuit Playhouse, 51 S. Cooper St. Visit facebook.com/MidtownMemphis.MMDC for ticket information.
MMDC was established in 2007 as a not-for-profit with the goal of encouraging the growth, stability and vitality of Midtown Memphis. This is the second year of the awards.
– Kate Simone
Guest House at Graceland Names Managing Director
The company managing the Guest House at Graceland has named a 30-year veteran of the hotel and resort business to run the $90-million, 450-room Whitehaven hotel-resort that opens in October.
Keith Hess comes to the Memphis post from being vice president of operations for Pyramid Hotel Group. Hess’s new position is vice president and managing director of the hotel.
Pyramid Hotel Group is managing the hotel for Elvis Presley Enterprises.
Hess has been general manager of Hilton Worldwide as well as general manager of the Hilton Chicago O’Hare.
The hotel-resort opens Oct. 27 with three days of grand opening events.
– Bill Dries
David Lusk Gallery Opening New Facility This Month
David Lusk Gallery is opening its new facility at 97 Tillman St. later this month.
The opening celebration Feb. 26 starts at 6 p.m. with artwork that shows the history of the building. That new space is located on Tillman between Walnut Grove Road and Poplar Avenue.
After almost 20 years at its previous location in Laurelwood, the gallery began renovation plans for the Tillman building in June of last year. Eight months later, after a complete gutting of all interior walls and services, the new 97 Tillman St. location is now ready to showcase the gallery's nationally recognized art program.
97 Tillman, built in 1966, originally housed the Oates Gallery, a dealer of modern European artwork
– Andy Meek
Refinancing Deal Approved For James Lee House
At its Feb. 17 meeting, the Center City Development Corp. approved refinancing of the James Lee House, lowering the operators’ monthly payments by $8,000.
The $1.7 million loan from Iberiabank will help pay off loans from Triumph Bank, the CCDC and Loeb Properties. Because the CCDC has around $130,000 in loans tied to the James Lee House, it had to approve the refinancing.
The operators’ total indebtedness increased around $29,000 while monthly payments dropped from $19,630 to $11,559.
The historic home in Victorian Village, at 690 Adams Ave., reopened as a bed and breakfast in 2014.
– Madeline Faber
Haslam’s Outsourcing Plan To Get Outside Review
Gov. Bill Haslam's administration announced Wednesday, Feb. 17, that it has agreed with higher education leaders to have an outside group review the Republican's privatization plan for building maintenance at Tennessee's public colleges and universities.
Democratic lawmakers also raised concerns about Haslam advisers considering the outsourcing of security at the legislative office complex, especially in light of the Republican House and Senate speakers' proposal to allow the state's half-million permit holders to be able to carry handguns within the building.
Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, said hiring private security to replace the Tennessee Highway Patrol would "add an increased threat to this body and to the citizens of this state."
A Haslam spokeswoman had no immediate comment on the security proposal.
Haslam plans to release his "business justification" for his privatization efforts by the end of the month. The governor has said the University of Tennessee and Board of Regents system would be given the choice of opting out of the plan.
In a joint statement, University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro and Regents Chancellor David Gregory agreed to consider the third-party review and said that no decision has yet been made on whether to proceed with the privatization proposal.
The Haslam administration said it has saved nearly $11 million in the first two years of having an outside company maintain 10 percent of the state's properties.
DiPietro, at his annual State of the University address in Nashville on Feb. 16, said the school needs to be vigilant to protect against the influence of the "the long arm of the government" on university matters.
The university president said government is reaching further and further into the operations of UT in matters “such as our governance and structure, policy decisions, maintenance of our facilities and even programs designed to support our students and campus communities."
– The Associated Press
Nishikori Wins 4th Memphis Title, Tying Connors' Record
Kei Nishikori won his fourth straight Memphis Open title on Feb. 14, beating teenager Taylor Fritz 6-4, 6-4.
The Japanese player joined Jimmy Connors as the only four-time winners of the event and became the fourth active player to win an event four times, joining Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Ranked No. 7 in the world, Nishikori won his 11th career title and first since Washington last August. He picked up the $109,950 check with his 17th straight match win in Memphis.
Nishikori hasn’t lost at The Racquet Club in the main draw since the first round in 2009.
– The Associated Press