VOL. 9 | NO. 46 | Saturday, November 12, 2016
Audit: TNInvestco Program Not Producing Much ROI
A performance audit from the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has found the state of Tennessee has only recovered $5.3 million of its initial $200 million investment in the TNInvestco program.
The TNInvestco program, which is a few years old now, is a public-private venture capital program intended to help startup companies create jobs and for the state to eventually receive a return on its investment.
As of Dec. 31, 2015 though, the state had only received 2.6 percent of the initial investment.
Startups from Memphis accelerator programs such as ZeroTo510 and Upstart Memphis, have participated in TNInvestco.
The TNInvestco program will continue until 2021, and the state should recoup more of its investment.
The state doesn’t think it will get a return nearing $200 million, though, according to the audit.
The audit also found that in some years the department didn’t accurately report TNInvestco jobs created and retained, including jobs held by women and minority employees.
– Andy Meek
Tigers’ Dedric Lawson On Naismith Trophy List
University of Memphis sophomore forward Dedric Lawson has been selected as one of 50 student-athletes named to the Naismith Trophy watch list. The 50-person list is selected by a national panel of voters by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Subsequent cuts will trim the field to 30 players on Feb. 9, to 10 semifinalists on March 1, and then four finalists will be announced on March 19.
The award will be presented at the Naismith Awards banquet during the Final Four.
Lawson also has been selected to the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year watch list, and the Lute Olson Player of the Year watch list.
Last season, Lawson averaged a team-best 15.8 points and American Athletic Conference-best 9.3 rebounds per game. He also dished out 84 assists while blocking 55 shots.
He was the only player in the country last year to average at least 15 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.5 blocked shots per game, and the first to do it since 2012-13.
The Tigers open up play in the 2016-17 regular season on Monday, Nov. 14, when the program hosts the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) in a 7 p.m. tip at FedExForum.
– Don Wade
State Launches #GoOpen Initiative for Educators
Tennessee Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen announced Thursday, Nov. 10, the launch of a new statewide #GoOpen initiative, giving Tennessee school districts and educators access to high-quality, openly licensed educational resources in schools.
As a #GoOpen state recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, Tennessee will provide educators access to a large collection of digital teaching and professional development resources that can be easily used without obtaining restrictive commercial licenses, and will develop a statewide repository of openly licensed resources.
Participating in #GoOpen will allow Tennessee educators to collaborate and share resources with each other, regardless of geographical area.
“Tennessee is excited to join the #GoOpen movement to improve learning outcomes for our students by providing educators with high-quality educational resources,” McQueen said in a statement. “Tennessee is committed to personalizing instruction for all students, and the role of digital content through #GoOpen is an important part of our strategy.”
Twelve school districts across the country have been identified as #GoOpen Ambassador Districts. The Ambassador Districts have gained experience using the resources in place of traditional instructional materials and are mentoring #GoOpen Launch Districts. Two of the ambassador districts are Tullahoma City Schools and Bristol City Schools in Tennessee.
“The #GoOpen initiative provides a tremendous opportunity for Tennessee schools and districts,” Tullahoma City Schools director Dan Lawson said. “I am thrilled that our state is embracing a leadership role in the #GoOpen movement. Our active involvement as a state will provide access to exceptional open educational resources – regardless of where a school is located or their budget.”
Tennessee has an existing strategy to embrace digital content.
The state Department of Education recently launched a pilot program which makes high-quality, editable content for Algebra I and Integrated Math available to educators.
The pilot is the state’s first attempt to embrace openly licensed material and is a natural precursor to participation in #GoOpen.
– Daily News staff
FedEx Executive Honored By Ebony Magazine
Matthew Thornton III, FedEx Express’ senior vice president of U.S. operations, has been named to Ebony Magazine’s 2016 Power 100 list of the world’s most influential and inspiring African-Americans.
The annual list, which was launched in 1985, recaps outstanding accomplishments by top and emerging leaders in the black community.
Thornton was named to the list for his role as a FedEx executive responsible for more than 50,000 team members nationwide, as well as for being a man whose decisions affect a large part of domestic commerce.
“Ebony has a long history of celebrating and honoring the true heroes of the black community through the Power 100,” Shannon Brown, FedEx Express senior vice president and chief human resources and diversity officer, said in a written statement. “Matthew has been a friend and colleague for more than 30 years. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this distinguished recognition.”
Thornton joined FedEx Express in 1978 and has held various management positions of increasing responsibility. From 2004 to 2006, he served as senior vice president of air, ground and freight services; before that, he served as vice president of regional operations (Central Region) from 1998 to 2004.
– Daily News staff
West Cancer Center Hosting 2nd Conference on Cancer
The West Cancer Center is hosting its second annual oncology conference next week in Memphis.
The day-and-a-half-long event set for Nov. 18 and 19 at The Guest House at Graceland, is titled “Collaboration for the Future Cure: Precision Medicine & Immuno-Oncology” and includes an agenda focused on how to best integrate personalized medicine and the explosion of immunotherapy drugs into clinical practice.
This year’s faculty includes physicians and scientists from top medical centers and academic institutions, including City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.
– Andy Meek
Union’s Online Doctorate Receives High Marks
Union University in Jackson, Tenn., has been ranked the second-best university in the nation to get an online doctoral degree, according to the Guide to Online Schools (guidetoonlineschools.com), created by SR Education Group.
The 2017 ranking is for colleges offering online degrees at the doctoral level, based on affordability and academic quality. The list does not include doctoral degrees that are more expensive than $15,000 a year or have an academic strength score lower than 55 percent, based on SR Education Group’s methodology. Universities had to have at least three online doctoral degrees to be considered.
Annual tuition for the doctoral programs at Union is $9,075, and its academic strength registered 77 percent, a combination which put the university second on the list. It has three doctoral degrees: Doctor of Education; Doctor of Education, higher education administration track; and Doctor of Education, leadership in school reform non-licensure track. The leadership track is a fully online program, while the higher education track is a blended program with face-to-face and online components.
Montana State University was first on the list with an annual tuition of $5,712 and academic strength score of 70 percent. The University of Kansas came in third. Mississippi State University ranked No. 7 and Delta State University ranked 10th on the list.
According to its website, the mission of SR Education Group is to be the most authoritative online resource to help students choose the best school for their career aspirations and budget. It seeks to provide objective information about education, careers and educational financing that is easily accessible.
– Daily News staff
Arkansas OKs Medical Pot, But Fights Remain
Arkansas voters handed marijuana advocates a significant victory by making the state the first in the Bible Belt to legalize the drug for medical use, and groups on both sides of the issue are now gearing up for fights over how to set up the program in the coming months.
The medical marijuana proposal narrowly approved by Arkansas voters Tuesday is a cultural tipping point that shows the drug has gained acceptance even in a deeply conservative part of the country. The initiative won despite opposition of several powerful industry groups and the state’s Republican governor, who once served as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The move came four years after a similar measure failed at the ballot box.
Opponents vowed to keep pushing for legislation or regulations to limit the measure, even as the state faces a June 2017 deadline to start taking applications for dispensaries that will sell the drug.
“This fight is not over,” said Jerry Cox, the head of the socially conservative Arkansas Family Council. “The battle now shifts to the Arkansas Legislature.”
More than half the states have legalized medical marijuana, but Arkansas is the first in the Bible Belt to do so. Florida and North Dakota also legalized medical marijuana on Tuesday, and voters in Montana were considering expanding access to the drug there. Meanwhile, California and Massachusetts legalized recreational marijuana use, and three other states were considering doing so.
Supporters of the Arkansas measure said it would help patients suffering from a number of conditions that can’t otherwise be treated as effectively. Opponents, including the state Chamber of Commerce, the state Hospital Association and Gov. Asa Hutchinson, said legalizing medical marijuana would be a drain on state resources and make it harder for employers to enforce drug-free workplaces.
The clock is ticking now for Hutchinson and state agencies to begin adopting rules and regulations for the program, including the registry cards that will be issued to eligible patients. Within the next month, Hutchinson and legislative leaders must appoint the members of the five-member commission that will consider dispensary applications. The head of the group behind the medical marijuana proposal urged lawmakers to not try to place too many limits on the program.
“Anybody who wants to try and gut this program, there’s going to be a horrible backlash,” said David Couch, head of Arkansans United for Medical Marijuana.
There’s not much room for lawmakers to scale back the medical pot program. The Legislature can make some changes with a two-thirds vote, but not anything that would affect provisions legalizing the drug or the number of dispensaries allowed. Hutchinson, who had warned agencies would need as much as $5.7 million in additional funding to enforce the medical pot measure, said he’d work with lawmakers on the new regulations.
– The Associated Press
Memphis Lab Scales Back, Citing Obamacare Effects
A Memphis-based medical testing and research laboratory is changing its business model, suspending diagnostic testing services and initiating layoffs partly in response to what it says is the Affordable Care Act’s effect on reimbursement rates.
Compass Laboratory Services, which was founded as a toxicology lab in 2011, blames continued declines in reimbursement rates that are expected to continue for at least the next few years as necessitating the change in direction.
The company says it will continue to provide clinical diagnostic services to providers until Nov. 18.
Compass is planning layoffs across several departments, including sales, laboratory technicians and support staff in clinical diagnostics.
Clint Pridgen, Compass’ vice president of marketing and commercial operations, called the company’s move “the result of a national problem.”
“With changes in health care reimbursement and delivery, insurance companies have now taken the lead making medical and preventative diagnostic decisions, driving reimbursement rates down and increasing claims denials,” he said in a statement as part of the announcement. “When patient care is taken away from the medical provider and placed in the hands of financial institutions, it becomes nearly impossible to provide certain diagnostic services.”
The change in direction is something of a reversal from Compass’ expansion over the last year or so.
In early 2015, Compass purchased Memphis-based Genome Explorations, a genomics company focused on bringing personalized diagnostics and medicine to patients with cancer and cardiac disease, among others.
Earlier this year, Compass also hired much of the workforce of Atherotech Diagnostics Lab, a Birmingham, Alabama-based cardiology lab company, after it had filed bankruptcy.
– Andy Meek
Gourmet Meal Service Le Jardin Set to Open
A new gourmet meals service is coming to Chickasaw Crossing on Poplar Avenue just east of the Union Avenue viaduct.
Le Jardin will offer gourmet meals to go; a soft opening is scheduled Nov. 17 with a grand opening celebration planned for Dec. 1 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Head chef Karen Roth, who was a partner in Alchemy, is creating the menu and will be preparing all of the meals at Le Jardin.
The menu will include items such as crab cakes, braised beef shorts ribs and many other dishes that will be packaged and ready to cook or throw in the freezer.
Guests can order their meals to go online at lejardinmemphis.com and the new business has a Facebook page.
Leasing at Chickasaw Crossing, 2877 Poplar Ave., is handled by Loeb Properties Inc.
– Daily News staff
Women’s Soccer Team Back In NCAA Tournament
After a four-year absence, the University of Memphis women’s soccer team has returned to the NCAA Tournament.
The Tigers (14-4-1) will play No. 19 Arkansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11, in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks (17-5) finished third in the SEC and advanced to the conference tournament final before falling in overtime to Florida.
“It feels great to be back. It has been a long time coming,” Memphis head coach Brooks Monaghan said. “This program has put a lot of hard work in, so it’s good to see it paying off. Arkansas is really good and they are tough to play against. We are going to have our hands full.”
Memphis is returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since making five straight appearances from 2007-11. The Tigers advanced to the second round for the first time in 2011, beating UT Martin. The at-large selection is the first in program history, after receiving the conference automatic bid five times.
The Tigers and Razorbacks have played five times since 1995 and Arkansas leads the all-time series 4-1. Memphis beat Arkansas 2-1 in overtime in the most recent meeting during the 2007 season.
– Don Wade
Steak by Melissa Restaurant Opens in Southaven
Melissa Cookston, a decorated competition barbecue pitmaster who has won two Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest titles, has opened her new Southaven restaurant concept.
STEAK by Melissa is Cookston’s fourth restaurant venture, joining her three Memphis Barbecue Co. locations in Horn Lake; Fayetteville, North Carolina; and Dunwoody, Georgia.
The full-service, casual restaurant – which Cookston is opening along with her husband, Pete – will feature aged, choice grade steaks hand-cut in house daily, fresh seafood and dishes from Cookston’s cookbooks, “Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room” and “Smokin’ Hot in the South.”
“At STEAK by Melissa, our goal is to open a place where people can come in for a great meal and enjoy fine wine but can feel comfortable wearing jeans,” she said in a statement. “The food and the wine are going to be upscale but the atmosphere is going to be inviting for out-of-towners and locals alike.”
Pending approval, the restaurant will have exclusive wine lockers for VIP guests to store their personal wine collections.
STEAK by Melissa is housed in a 9,000-square-foot space at 4975 Pepper Chase Drive that includes three private dining spaces to accommodate special events and gatherings. Limited reservations are available and walk-ins are welcome.
For more information, visit steakbymelissa.com.
– Daily News staff
EPA, Local Groups Testing Air Pollution Sensors
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is testing out new, lower-cost air pollution monitors in Memphis, with help from the Shelby County Health Department and Memphis Area Transit Authority.
As part of the EPA’s CitySpace research project, air sensor pods have been installed at 16 locations, including three MATA transit facilities and seven active or historical air-monitoring sites operated by the health department. Two more sensor pods will be installed at separate locations during November, according to the organizations.
The CitySpace project is field-testing the air sensor monitors, which are intended to complement existing monitoring networks, to understand how the emerging technology can add information on air pollution patterns in neighborhoods.
Each sensor collects a range of data – including particulate matter, temperature, humidity and wind – every minute and transmits it wirelessly to the EPA.
The sensors will be in place through February 2017 and are expected to produce up to 30 million data values to analysis of local-scale air pollution and weather patterns.
“The knowledge we gain from the monitoring project will help to advance the use of these lower-cost and portable sensors in communities to learn more about air quality,” Ron Williams, the EPA research leading the development of the sensor technology, said in a statement. “We have received support and interest from Memphis residents and organizations in this project and we plan to keep the community informed about progress and results.”
– Daily News staff
Memphis Airport Takes Top Communications Honor
Memphis International Airport was the big awards winner at the Airports Council International-North America national conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.
MEM received the 2016 Peggy G. Hereford Award as the airport with the most overall recognition in ACI-NA’s annual Excellence in Airport Marketing, Communications, and Customer Service Awards.
MEM took home first-place honors in the Brand Identity, Video and Film Production and Public Relations Campaigns categories. The Memphis airport also received honorable mentions in the two categories Newsletters and Social Media Campaigns.
“Effective marketing, communications, and customer service are essential to the success of an airport,” ACI-NA president and CEO Kevin M. Burke said in a release. “ACI-NA is pleased to recognize the innovative strategies and tactics that are being deployed by communication, marketing and customer service professionals in the airport industry with these awards.”
RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy represents MEM and spearheaded a public relations campaign involving the Memphis Grizzlies and guard Tony Allen.
In 2015, the Memphis Grizzlies signed a three-year, $530,000 marketing contract with the airport and Allen signed a separate deal worth $44,000 to become its official spokesperson.
The ACI-NA contest involved more than 320 entries in 19 categories.
The Peggy G. Hereford Award is regarded throughout the airport industry as the highest honor an airport can earn for marketing and communications excellence. Its namesake was the public affairs director at Los Angeles International Airport, where she was the first woman to head the public relations department for a major U.S. airport, retiring in 1977.
A founding member of the ACI-NA Marketing and Communications Committee, Hereford championed the notion that the adventure and spirit of aviation should inspire the ways airports tell their stories.
– Daily News staff
Tigers QB Riley Ferguson Honored For Performance
Junior University of Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson was named the CollegeSportsMadness.com Offensive Player of the Week for the American Athletic Conference.
Ferguson helped Memphis to a 51-7 road win at Southern Methodist University that made the Tigers bowl-eligible for a third straight season. The junior quarterback played into the early part of the third quarter, finishing 20-for-27 for 287 yards and four touchdowns against no interceptions.
The four touchdowns pushed Ferguson past the 20-touchdown mark. With his 21 touchdowns, Ferguson now ranks tied for fourth in the Memphis single-season record book, and is the fourth different Memphis quarterback to pass for 20 or more touchdowns in a single season. Paxton Lynch set the school record with 28 touchdown passes last year, breaking Martin Hankins’ mark of 25 from the 2007 season. Danny Wimprine had 23 touchdown passes in 2002.
Ferguson’s 2,565 passing yards this season already ranks 12th in Tigers history. He needs another 42 yards to tie Arkelon Hall’s (2008-09) mark of 2,607 yards and 81 more yards to make it into the career top 10 (2,646 yards, Neil Suber, 1998-2001).
– Don Wade
Peabody GM Honored As Hotelier of the Year
Peabody Memphis general manager and Peabody Hotels & Resorts president Doug Browne has been named Hotelier of the Year as part of the Awards of Excellence from the Historic Hotels of America organization.
The 2016 Awards of Excellence were announced in recent days during a ceremony at the group’s annual conference.
According to Historic Hotels of America, the Awards of Excellence “honor, encourage, and recognize the most exemplary historic hotels, hoteliers, and leadership practices. The Historic Hotels Awards of Excellence are presented to historic hotels and hoteliers demonstrating innovative leadership, stewardship, and contribution to furthering the recognition, preservation, and celebration of these preeminent historic hotels and their histories.”
There were more than 200 nominees in the 19 award categories between Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide.
– Andy Meek
2017 Latino Memphis Fest Joins Memphis in May
Memphians who are used to attending the Latino Memphis Festival on Cinco de Mayo weekend will have to wait a few extra days next year.
That’s because the 2017 event is becoming an official part of the Memphis in May International Festival’s monthlong salute to Colombia.
The Latino Memphis Festival will be held in Overton Park one week later than usual – on May 13, falling on the Saturday between the Beale Street Music Festival and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.
“We are very excited to partner with Memphis in May, an organization that, like Latino Memphis, highlights diversity and celebrates international cultures,” said Mauricio Calvo, executive director at Latino Memphis. “By uniting our resources, we will be able to reach a larger audience and promote the beauty of diversity.”
As in past years, the festival will feature live entertainment, authentic food, a salsa-making championship, market vendors and a 5K race. The organizations say attendees can also expect new additions to coincide with the 2017 partnership.
– Daily News staff
Redbirds Manager Shildt Promoted to Cards' Staff
Mike Shildt, who managed the Memphis Redbirds during the 2015 and 2016 seasons, has been promoted to the uniformed position of quality control coach with the St. Louis Cardinals, the organization announced.
Shildt served as manager with the Redbirds in 2015 and 2016 and has been with the Cardinals organization since 2004.
The Redbirds went 73-71 in Shildt’s first season in 2015 and 65-77 this past season.
The seventh manager in the history of the Redbirds will be announced in the coming months.
Shildt and the Cardinals will return to AutoZone Park for a “Battle of the Birds” exhibition game on March 30. Visit memphisredbirds.com/battleofthebirds for details and tickets.
– Don Wade
‘Eye On the Struggle’ Author to Speak Nov. 15
James McGrath Morris, winner of the 2015 Hooks Institute National Book Award for his biography “Eye On the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press,” will speak at the University of Memphis’ Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change on Nov. 15.
The National Book Award lecture and signing will begin with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by the lecture at 6 p.m. in the University Center River Room on campus. The event is free and open to the public.
Payne was a reporter and White House correspondent for the Chicago Defender during the civil rights movement.
Visit memphis.edu/benhooks/events/index.php for more information.
– Don Wade
Former MPD Deputy Director Tapped by UTHSC
Retired Memphis Police Department Deputy Director Anthony Berryhill has been tapped as the new chief of police for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s Memphis campus.
Berryhill had been with the MPD since 1984, retiring in December 2015.
Berryhill will provide command and patrol services to about 50 buildings on the UTHSC campus and supervise more than 60 police officers, security officers and staff of the UTHSC Campus Police Department, as well as the UTHSC Parking Authority.
– Andy Meek