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VOL. 131 | NO. 104 | Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Daily Digest

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County Commission Accepts Disparity Study Findings

Shelby County Commissioners on Monday, May 23, accepted the findings of a study that confirm a racial disparity in the number and dollar amount of county government contracts that go to minority-owned businesses.

The study by Mason Tillman and Associates is a first step toward building a program that will involve setting percentage goals for minority business participation in county government contracts.

The commission voted to accept the study results without debate.

But there was considerable debate on a follow-up $80,000 contract with Mason Tillman to help county government formulate its minority business program.

“It can all be done in-house,” said commissioner Steve Basar, who argued that with the results of the study and county attorneys, the county doesn’t need to spend more money with the firm.

Commissioner Van Turner, however, argued that any program is likely to be challenged in court.

“This can’t be a cookie-cutter plan,” he said. “You are dealing with a race-based plan, which will likely incur a constitutional challenge.”

The commission also approved a $1.9 million contract with Campbell Contracting Co. Inc. to build a new fleet maintenance facility for the Shelby County Fire Department. The commission delayed approval of the contract two weeks ago in a debate about whether to hold the spending until a minority business plan is in place.

– Bill Dries

Amazon Studios Signs On As Indie Memphis Sponsor

Amazon Studios has signed on as a marquee sponsor for the 19th annual Indie Memphis Film Festival.

The organization is the film production and distribution arm of the Internet retailer Amazon. The festival, presented by Duncan Williams Inc., takes place Nov. 1-7.

The event is expanding to six screening venues throughout the city after receiving record attendance last year.

– Andy Meek

Sephora Among New Tenants Headed to Saddle Creek

Three newly announced tenants are headed to Saddle Creek Shopping Center in Germantown.

Global beauty retailer Sephora will open late this year. The 5,701-square-foot store will be located at Saddle Creek South next to Michael Kors. Sephora currently has two Memphis-area stores in Wolfchase Galleria and Carriage Crossing.

American Threads, an Atlanta-based clothing brand, also is slated to open late this year. The 1,995-square-foot store will be located in Saddle Creek North next to Janie and Jack.

Sur La Table, a kitchen-supply store, will open in 2017. The 5,807-square-foot store will be located in Saddle Creek South next to Brooks Brothers. The store will also host hands-on cooking classes led by trained chefs.

Other new shops at Saddle Creek set to open this summer are Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, Paper Source and Sleep Number.

– Madeline Faber

Funding for Southbrook Repairs Delayed

A Shelby County Commission resolution seeking $2.1 million in qualified energy conservation bonds to make roof and HVAC repairs to Southbrook Mall was sent back to committee Monday, May 23.

The owners of the Whitehaven mall sought $1.5 million from the city of Memphis during former Mayor A C Wharton’s administration for the same purpose but never got it.

County chief administrative officer Harvey Kennedy said the bond funding the mall owners are seeking would incur county debt for what would “essentially turn into a grant.”

Some commissioners expressed the same concerns several council members had about the funding being public money going for a private purpose.

The commission also approved Monday a $2 million contract with Petroleum Traders Corp. for gas and diesel fuel in the new fiscal year that begins July 1.

And commissioners approved grants to four nonprofits totaling $10,800. The funding comes from a grant fund of $1.3 million with each of the 13 commissioners getting an allocation of $100,000 to make in grants. The grants must be approved by the full commission.

The four grants Monday leave the commission’s grant fund with a balance of $71,000 for the fiscal year that ends June 30.

– Bill Dries

Working Writers’ Cocktail Hour Returns

Crosstown Arts’ Working Writers’ Cocktail Hour is returning in June with the goal of continuing to cultivate and connect the Memphis writing community.

The fourth edition of the cocktail hour, sponsored by The Daily News, will be held June 8 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at story booth, 438 N. Cleveland Ave.

Writers who live and work in Memphis – whether writers of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, journalism, playwriting or any other discipline – are invited to do what it normally takes an expensive conference to make happen: come together to mingle, have a drink and make connections with each other.

The free event is open to all writers, regardless of whether their day job is writing-related or not.

For more information, visit crosstownarts.org or call Nat Akin at 901-573-8444.

– Daily News staff

Loeb Sells Hickory Hill Shopping Strip for $1.4M

Loeb Realty Co. has sold a Hickory Hill shopping center for $1.4 million.

In a May 20 warranty deed, Hedgerow Property LLC purchased the property from Loeb acting as Wolf River Professional Center GP.

The Village at Hedgerow shopping strip stretches from 6717 E. Shelby Drive to 6765 E. Shelby Drive, at the corner of Ross Road.

Tenants in the 23,000-square-foot center include Pizza Hut and Arnold’s Bar-B-Q.

In conjunction with the sale, Hedgerow Property LLC took out a $1 million five-year mortgage through Orion Federal Credit Union. Ramesh Krishnan and Rajeena Choran signed the loan as managing members of Hedgerow Property LLC.

– Madeline Faber

GameStop Collecting Funds for St. Jude

The GameStop video game retailer announced this week that customers of GameStop and its affiliated ThinkGeek brand can donate at the point of purchase for children of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital beginning Memorial Day weekend.

From Friday, May 27, through June 30, guests can donate at any GameStop or at gamestop.com. To thank guests who donate $1 or more, GameStop is offering triple PowerUp Rewards points on the donation amount. Guests also can donate at any ThinkGeek retail store.

A limited-edition T-shirt benefiting St. Jude will be available for purchase on thinkgeek.com. GameStop’s mobile gaming division, kongregate.com, as well as the gaming magazine Game Informer also will support St. Jude through an online awareness campaign, “Give for the Kids of St. Jude.”

Since first partnering with St. Jude in 2013, the company has helped raise more than $4.3 million.

– Andy Meek

PRSA Memphis Accepting VOX Awards Entries

The Memphis Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America has opened the entry period for the 2016 VOX Awards. VOX, Latin for voice, is PRSA Memphis’ annual awards event highlighting the work of communications industry professionals across the Mid-South.

This year, the chapter is introducing several new features, including online entry submissions meant to streamline the application and judging process. Also, three new awards have been added to recognize individual excellence in the PR profession. The new awards will spotlight a young professional, a practitioner with mid-range experience, and a top executive or chief honored for career leadership excellence.

Communications professionals from all business sectors are invited to submit their best work produced and used from April 1, 2015, to April 1 of this year. The majority of work must be created and overseen in the Mid-South/Memphis metro area. The regular entry deadline is July 8, and the late entry deadline is July 22, and membership in PRSA is not required to enter.

Information about award categories, entry guidelines and submission details can be found prsamemphis.secure-platform.com. The 2016 VOX Awards ceremony date and location will be announced soon.

– Don Wade

PROPERTY SALES 85 205 21,165
MORTGAGES 76 206 24,338
BUILDING PERMITS 183 321 43,755
BANKRUPTCIES 48 92 13,560