VOL. 132 | NO. 42 | Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Sedgwick Approved For $10.4 Million PILOT
The Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis and Shelby County approved Sedgwick Claims Management Services’ application for a $10.4 million tax abatement during a special session Friday, Feb. 24.
The Memphis-based company, which provides technology-enabled risk and benefits solutions, was awarded a 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes incentive to expand and consolidate its global corporate headquarters into one location at Southwind.
The tax incentive package will allow the company to invest $33.5 million in capital, retain 865 jobs and create 130 jobs, according to Sedgwick’s PILOT application. The average weighted base salary for the employees will be $68,872, excluding benefits.
The EDGE staff estimates the local tax benefit to be more than $72 million.
EDGE president and CEO Reid Dulberger asked a Sedgwick official at Friday’s meeting what timeframe the company envisioned going forward if its application received approval.
“We’re working with the landlord to secure the facility and finalize the lease,” said Joey C. House, the managing director for Sedgwick. “And then we would look to start construction the first of the year.”
Currently, the company operates out of two locations – 90,000 square feet at 1100 Ridgeway Loop Blvd. and 80,000 square feet at 2620 Thousand Oaks Blvd. The PILOT will allow them to consolidate the two operations into one 245,808-square-foot facility at 8155 T&B Blvd., the current headquarters of electrical component manufacturing company Thomas & Betts Corp.
The total project investment will include $5 million in furniture, fixtures and computer equipment and $10.4 million for building renovations. Sedgwick also will receive an $18.1 million Community Reinvestment Credit.
“With space available at Sedgwick facilities in Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles and Portland, we know the firm had a number of low-cost options to consider,” Dulberger said. “Retaining and growing Sedgwick headquarters in Memphis is testimony to the quality of their local staff, our community’s strong business infrastructure, and our ability to compete successfully for leading companies.”
– Patrick Lantrip
Brooks to Lead East High Transition to T-STEM
The founding principal of the Maxine Smith STEAM Academy Middle School will lead East High School’s transition to becoming a T-STEM academy.
Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson announced Lischa Brooks will be executive principal of East High when the new academic year begins in August.
East will transition over several years, one grade at a time, into a fully optional academy for high school students focused on a curriculum that emphasizes transportation applications of science, technology, engineering and math.
East will start with ninth-graders next school year.
Brooks will be supported by Marilyn Hilliard at East.
Keith Booker, the assistant principal at Maxine Smith STEAM Middle – which emphasizes arts in addition to traditional STEM subjects – will serve as that school’s interim principal for the rest of the current academic year.
– Bill Dries
Memphis Redbirds Make Front Office Moves
The Memphis Redbirds have announced two personnel moves to bolster the front office in advance of the 2017 season.
Mike Voutsinas, a 16-year veteran of professional baseball and the New York-Penn League Executive of the Year in 2016, has joined the Redbirds as senior director for corporate sales and marketing. Voutsinas spent the past three seasons as the general manager for the Single-A Auburn Doubledays, where he helped the Doubledays receive the Community and Baseball Service Award.
Through his leadership, the Doubledays increased attendance by 23 percent and tripled advertising revenue.
In his role with the Redbirds, Voutsinas will oversee promotions, marketing, corporate sales, premium sales and season membership sales. He will work closely with Redbirds president and general manager Craig Unger. Prior to Auburn, Voutsinas spent nearly 13 years in the front office of the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs.
Also, Mark Anderson, who has been a member of the Redbirds’ front office since 2006, has been promoted to senior director of stadium and baseball operations. Anderson has played a key role in improving the operation of AutoZone Park and has streamlined much of the game-day workflow around the stadium.
The 2017 Redbirds take the field for the first time on March 30 against the St. Louis Cardinals in an exhibition game at AutoZone Park.
– Don Wade
DMC Seeks Longer-Term Management of Beale
The Downtown Memphis Commission’s board of directors voted Friday, Feb. 24, to allow DMC president Terence Patterson to enter into negotiations with the city of Memphis to manage Beale Street on a longer-term basis.
The DMC has been interim manager of the district since 2014. What was initially supposed to be a six-month arrangement has now lasted three years. Since the initial agreement expired, Patterson said, the DMC has been operating on a month-to-month basis.
“It’s been our feeling that we need to take a longer-term view and perspective on how we manage the street as opposed to taking a month-to-month view,” he said.
With the board’s approval, Patterson will begin to enter into discussions with the city to manage Beale Street for at least a year at a time.
“Having a month-to-month arrangement makes it more challenging to make strategic decisions that are in the best interest for the future of the street,” Patterson said.
Patterson signaled the move to longer-term plans last month in an appearance before Memphis City Council members who are examining how the district is run.
Council members are questioning whether the Beale Street Tourism Development Authority, which was created in 2015, should continue to oversee the district for the city. Six new members have been elected to the council since it approved the authority’s creation.
Council members also are questioning the authority’s decision in October to end contract negotiations with 21 Beale Street Inc., a black-owned Chicago-Memphis partnership that was among the handful of companies who applied to manage the district on a day-to-day basis via a long-term contract.
Patterson will engage in discussions with the tourism development authority. The current arrangement, however, is with the city and the mayor since it predated the creation of the authority.
“We are as suited as anyone to commit to the community and reinvest and lift up a prized asset,” Patterson said.
State Rep. Barbara Cooper was the lone no vote, calling it “damaging to the city.”
“Because of that, I can’t support it,” she told the DMC board prior to Friday’s vote.
– Patrick Lantrip
YWCA to Hold 20th Annual Benefit Luncheon March 8
The YWCA of Greater Memphis will feature Grammy Award nominee Michel’le at its 20th annual benefit luncheon for domestic violence, scheduled for March 8.
Known for her childlike speaking voice, Michel’le’s 1989 debut album sold more than 1.5 million copies and produced such hits as “Turn off the Lights,” “Nicety” and “Something in My Heart.” Decades later, she returned to the limelight as a reality TV star on “R&B Divas: LA,” which aired on TV One from 2013 until 2015.
Only recently did Michel’le reveal the reasons behind her long absence from the music scene. In the Lifetime made-for-TV movie “Surviving Compton: Dre, Suge and Michel’le,” released last October, she narrates her own story about years of substance abuse, financial struggles and physical assaults from the fathers of both of her children.
“Michel’le has a story that will connect not only with the women that we serve but to any woman or man in our community,” said Jacquelyn Williams, executive director of YWCA of Greater Memphis. “Michel’le is a shining example of how faith and hard work can change a life.”
Over the last 20 years, the YWCA of Greater Memphis has raised more than $100,000 to provide direct services and shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence.
The March 8 luncheon will be held at noon at the Holiday Inn-University of Memphis, 3700 Central Ave., and will be hosted by Local Memphis Live anchor and host Amy Speropoulos.
Tickets are $100 and may be purchased at ywcamemphisluncheon2017.eventbrite.com. For more information, call 901-210-6551 or 901-320-6002.
– Don Wade