Chamber Chairman’s Circle Expands Leadership

As the Greater Memphis Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle continues to grow, its founding members have decided to restructure its leadership.

Original co-chairs Gary Shorb, Richard Smith, Calvin Anderson, Carolyn Hardy, Spence Wilson Jr., Duncan Williams, Leigh Shockey and Jason Hood voted to install a new leadership structure that will include addition of a chairman, vice chairman and new co-chairs.

Carolyn Hardy, president and CEO of Chism Hardy Investments, will serve a one-year term as chairman. Spence Wilson Jr., principal of Kemmons Wilson Cos., will serve a two-year term as vice chairman.

In addition, Daphne Large of Data Facts Inc., Andy Cates of Colliers International, and Robin Smithwick of Diversified Trust were elected to two-year terms as co-chairs. Williams, of Duncan-Williams Inc., Jason Hood of Sedgwick Claims Management Services, and David Waddell of Waddell & Associates were elected to a one-year term as co-chairs.

Now in its fifth year, the Chairman’s Circle is a business leadership group made up of more than 100 companies and individuals. Its creation allowed the chamber to be 100 percent funded by the business community instead of taking funding from local government.

“The Chairman’s Circle members have come together to lead in a way that hasn’t been seen by the business community in Memphis in at least 40 years,” Shea Flinn, senior vice president of Chairman’s Circle, said in a statement. “By working as a collective voice, they have fundamentally altered the way we interact with all our governmental bodies that brings more funding and business friendly policies to Memphis. I’m honored to work even more closely with these new leaders over the next two years to keep Memphis on a successful path.”

– Patrick Lantrip

Memphis Lands Minor League Soccer

AutoZone Park will be home to a team in the United Soccer League, according to multiple media reports. The team, as yet unnamed, would begin play in 2019.

“We are excited about the prospects of a third professional sports team in Downtown Memphis,” Redbirds president and general manager Craig Unger said in a statement. “Coupled with the continued revitalization of Downtown, the time has never been better for investment in the city and its people.”

Mayor Jim Strickland also weighed in on social media, saying in part, “We’ve worked hard to make this a reality, it’s just another example of our momentum in the city of Memphis.”

Thirty teams competed in the 2017 USL season, including teams from Louisville, Kentucky (the league champions); Cincinnati, Ohio; and St. Louis, Missouri. Birmingham, Alabama, is among the other 2019 expansion cities, and Nashville is set to start play in 2018.

The USL is essentially the Triple-A of North American pro soccer, one step below Major League Soccer.

– Don Wade

300 MLGW Payment Sites Out of Service Indefinitely

More than 300 Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division payment kiosks and paying agents are out of service after TIO Networks, the company that operates the kiosks, temporarily suspended its bill-payment processing operations.

TIO operates kiosks in four of MLGW’s community offices and kiosks and paying agents at more than 300 locations throughout Shelby County, all of which are inoperable until further notice. In addition, payment locations with MoneyGram kiosks, which TIO operates, are not available for use at this time.

PayPal Holdings Inc., which bought TIO Networks in July, suspended TIO services Friday, Nov. 10, after discovering security vulnerabilities on the TIO platform and issues with the company’s data-security program.

MLGW customers can still make payments at nearly 90 MLGW-authorized pay agents operated by Firstech. These pay agents are not part of TIO Networks. A list of current payment locations is available at or by visiting any of MLGW’s five community offices: 245 S. Main St., 2935 Lamar Ave., 1111 E. Shelby Drive, 2424 Summer Ave. and 5131 Navy Road.

PayPal has not given a timeline for resuming TIO operations.

– Daily News staff

Graceland Launches Guided Day Trips

Graceland has launched a new service called Graceland Excursion, offering guided day trips to Elvis Presley’s birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi, and around the Mississippi Delta region.

Guests ride on a luxury motorcoach to and from each destination. During the ride, tour guides and Graceland Archives staff celebrate the music that influenced Elvis and explore the genres that still inspire performers today.

Excursions will preview with select dates in December and early January, with an official launch of a regular, weekly schedule on Jan. 12.

The Graceland Excursions Tupelo trip, which lasts about seven hours, will include Elvis’ Birthplace, encompassing the two-room “shotgun” house where Elvis was born, his childhood church, and the Birthplace Museum; Tupelo Hardware, where Elvis’ mother Gladys bought his first guitar; and the Tupelo Fairgrounds, where he performed homecoming concerts in 1956 and 1957.

The Graceland Excursions Mississippi Delta trip, which lasts about 10 hours, will follow U.S. 61, known as the “Blues Highway,” and make stops at the Gateway to the Blues Museum in Tunica; the legendary “Crossroads” and Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi; Dockery Farms, widely regarded as where the delta blues genre was born; and the Grammy Museum in Cleveland, Mississippi.

Tickets for the tours are sold separately from Graceland mansion tours. Introductory prices for adult tickets are $99 for the Tupelo trip and $119 for the Mississippi Delta trip. Visit for details.

– Daily News staff

Richland Elementary Adding New Classrooms

The Shelby County School system has filed a $4 million building permit application to construct a 14-classroom building at its current 5440 Rich Road location, according to documents filed with the Office of Construction Code Enforcement.

Plans for the new building were one of 13 school renovation and construction projects the Shelby County Schools board approved at its Oct. 31 meeting. Richland currently is at 163 percent of student capacity and uses portable classrooms the school system says are beyond repair.

– Patrick Lantrip

Tigers Escape With 70-62 Victory over Little Rock

Trailing most of the game, the University of Memphis rode a 26-point performance by guard Jeremiah Martin to a 70-62 victory over Little Rock on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at FedExForum.

Little Rock, which had opened its season by losing at home to a Division II school, led by as many as 14 points in the first half and carried a 32-27 lead into halftime.

The Tigers contributed to this by committing 10 turnovers in the game’s first 11 minutes; they made just one the remainder of the game. Even so, Memphis finished with just nine assists to those 11 turnovers. Little Rock committed 16 turnovers that translated into 20 Memphis points.

Forward Kyvon Davenport scored 13 points for the Tigers, and Martin was the team’s leading rebounder with six boards. Guard Malik Rhodes had nine points and a team-high four assists off the bench.

“I felt like if I just got going, the whole team would get going,” Martin said.

Memphis opened the season with an 82-70 loss to Alabama in the Veterans Classic in Annapolis, Maryland. The Tigers return to action Tuesday, Nov. 21, at FedExForum vs. New Orleans. The announced attendance for the Little Rock game was 7,224.

– Don Wade

Financial Federal Adds New SVP

The Memphis office of Financial Federal Bank has added Alex Neale as its new senior vice president of private banking.

Neale will focus on establishing and maintaining private lending and depository relationships for Financial Federal’s private banking customers.

Neale started his career in finance at Duncan-Williams Inc. After completing a SunTrust management training program in Nashville, Neale moved back to Memphis to work in SunTrust’s private banking sector, and he most recently served as managing director at Metropolitan Bank.

– Andy Meek