December Unemployment Rates Rise in All Tennessee Counties

The unemployment rate in all 95 Tennessee counties rose during the month of December, according to the Tennessee Department Labor and Workforce Development.

Williamson County had the lowest overall unemployment rate at 3.5, while Lake County posted the highest at 10.2 percent.

As for the four large metro areas in Tennessee, Davidson County had the lowest rate at 3.6 percent, which increased from 3.5 percent in November, and Shelby County had the highest rate at 5.5 percent, which increased from last’s month’s 5.3 percent mark.

– Patrick Lantrip

New Health Care Clinic Coming to Cordova

Contractor Chris Woods Construction Co. filed a $4.5 million building permit with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement to construct a new 16,700-square-foot health care clinic at 8015 Belleview Parkway near Germantown Parkway in Cordova.

Build to Suit Inc. is listed as the owner, while BioLife Plasma Services is listed as the tenant.

BioLife Plasma Services is a plasma collection facility that is subsidiary of the international biotechnology company, Shire.

According to its website, BioLife has operations in 25 states, including a location in Mount Juliet, Tennessee that is scheduled to open in September 2017.

– Patrick Lantrip

First Horizon Raises Dividend 29 Percent

First Horizon National Corp. has decided to hike its quarterly cash dividend on common stock by 29 percent.

The company’s board approved payment of a quarterly cash dividend on its common stock of 9 cents per share payable April 3 to common shareholders of record on March 10.

The per-share quarterly cash dividend in 2016 was 7 cents a share. The 29 percent increase also raises the regular annual common dividend rate from 28 cents per share to 36 cents per share.

Memphis-based First Horizon is the parent company of First Tennessee Bank.

– Andy Meek

Marc Gasol Chosen As All-Star For NBA’s Western Conference

Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol was selected to play in the Feb. 19 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans as a reserve for the Western Conference’s team. It is Gasol’s third All-Star honor.

Gasol scored a career-high 42 points on Wednesday, Jan. 25, in a two-point victory over the Toronto Raptors. Heading into a six-game road trip, Gasol was averaging 20.6 points per game and was shooting almost 40 percent from 3-point range.

The NBA’s coaches voted on the reserves and were not allowed to vote for their own players. Gasol also made the All-Star team in 2012 and 2015. His brother, Pau Gasol, was the first Memphis Grizzly to earn All-Star honors in 2006. Power forward Zach Randolph was named to the team in 2010 and 2013.

– Don Wade

Baptist, UnitedHealthcare Enter 3-Year Relationship

Baptist Medical Group, a subsidiary of Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp., and UnitedHealthcare have established a new three-year relationship that will keep BMG’s West Tennessee physicians and other health care professionals in UnitedHealthcare’s network for employer-sponsored and individual plan participants.

BMG has 304 care providers practicing across Carroll, Obion, Tipton and Shelby counties. Baptist’s network includes Baptist Cancer Center Physicians Foundation, Baptist Memorial Medical Group, Baptist Minor Medical Centers, BMG Family Physicians Group Foundation, Gastrointestinal Specialists Foundation, Memphis Lung Physicians Foundation and Stern Cardiovascular Foundation.

The renewed relationship emphasizes value-based care, ensuring patients receive quality and cost-effective care. Baptist Medical Group physicians will also be rewarded for improved care coordination and encouraging better health.

– Andy Meek

Cohen’s Bill Would Change Redistricting Process

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen has introduced a bill that would take the once-a-decade redrawing of congressional district lines out of the hands of state legislators and instead establish an independent redistricting commission.

Cohen introduced the bill Friday, Jan. 27, calling it the John Tanner Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act. Tanner was the 8th District congressman who served for 22 years in the House. Tanner opted not to seek re-election in the 2010 midterm congressional elections citing an increasingly polarized and partisan Congress. Tanner believed the polarization was the result of how district lines were drawn. Tanner had sponsored an earlier version of the bill Cohen submitted last week.

Cohen, a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, announced the legislation in a press release Friday that referred to Trump.

“The President of the United States has said our elections are ‘rigged,’” Cohen began. “When it comes to the drawing of congressional districts, he may well be right. … Whichever party controls the state legislature ends up drawing congressional districts specifically designed to maximize the number of congressional seats that party can win.”

The proposal would take effect with the 2020 U.S. Census results and require each state to use a redistricting commission to submit a redistricting plan to the state legislature and governor. They can approve or reject the commission’s plan. But neither the governor nor the legislature can amend the plan.

If the governor doesn’t sign the new district lines into law, the commission can take its proposal or several proposals to the state Supreme Court, which would select one but also could not amend any plan before it. If that fails, the federal district court could develop and mandate a redistricting plan.

Cohen’s bill also bans the practice of redrawing lines between censuses unless a state is under a court order to do so.

– Bill Dries