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VOL. 10 | NO. 41 | Saturday, October 7, 2017

Daily Digest

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Chamber Mobilizes For Removal of Forrest Statue

The Greater Memphis Chamber is mobilizing support for Mayor Jim Strickland’s request for a state waiver to allow the city to remove the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest in Health Sciences Park.

In advance of the Oct. 13 meeting on the Tennessee Historical Commission, where Strickland will make his case, the chamber’s board of directors has drafted a letter in behalf of the business community.

The letter calls the statue of the Confederate general, slave trader and Ku Klux Klan grand wizard one of several “divisive symbols” that “hamper our city’s efforts to attract and retain top talent for the skilled workforce that is critical to our success.”

Greater Memphis Chamber president and CEO Phil Trenary sent chamber members a letter Thursday, Oct. 5, urging them to add their names to the letter to the commission. Trenary said in the letter that chamber leaders are talking with the city administration about “the best course of action” for moving forward after the historical commission meeting next week.

The chairman of the historical commission has told Strickland commissioners will not hear the city’s request for a waiver at the Oct. 13 meeting.

– Bill Dries

City Announces 10-Member Zoo Parking Advisory Team

A 10-member city advisory panel will be part of the process for settling on a specific design for expansion and reconfiguration of Memphis Zoo parking in Overton Park.

The city administration announced Thursday, Oct. 5, the names of 10 people to the panel, which will first offer feedback on the preliminary work of designers and then select a concept plan.

The advisory panel members are: Jack Stevenson, project manager with the city engineering division; Mike Flowers, city parks and neighborhoods division; Kyle Veazey, city communications; Chuck Brady, Memphis Zoo CEO; John Conroy, Memphis Zoo; Tina Sullivan, Overton Park Conservancy executive director; Eric Barnes, OPC board chairman and publisher of The Daily News; Anne Pitts, Levitt Shell; Mary Wilder, Overton Park Alliance; and Cato Johnson, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare.

The initial design concept by Powers Hill Design of Memphis is currently underway, with the goal being a reconfigured zoo parking area that includes 415 additional 9-by-19 foot spaces.

The Overton Park Conservancy and the Memphis Zoo have raised the money necessary for planning and construction of the project.

The goal of the expanded parking area is to end overflow zoo parking on the Overton Park Greensward.

The city has been taking public feedback on the design process since June and continues to at zooparkinginfo@caissaps.com.

The advisory panel’s first meeting, whose date has not been set, will include a review three concept plans and offer its input. Those three plans will also be posted on the website for more public feedback.

– Bill Dries

Convention Center Work Estimated at $100M-$200M

Memphis City Council members approved Tuesday, Oct. 3, a $10 million advance of city funding for the renovation of the Memphis Cook Convention Center. The city funding goes to pay some expenses already incurred in the planning and design.

City chief operating officer Doug McGowen told council members the renovation will cost $100 million to $200 million and will be financed with $5.5 million annually in hotel-motel tax revenue and $6 million in sales tax revenue generated in the Downtown Tourism Development Zone. McGowen said a more specific cost estimate should be available once final bids are in next March.

The renovation, which would increase the number of meeting rooms, put a new exterior on the building and offer river views on the west side of the center where there currently aren’t any, is to be completed in September 2019.

In other matters Tuesday, the council approved third and final reading of an ordinance that allows homebuilders to work in residential areas on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Councilman Frank Colvett said he heard from a homebuilder who had to stop work on a Saturday after neighbors complained. That prompted the move to a specific ordinance for areas that are considered residential.

– Bill Dries

U of M Trustees OK Parental Leave, Rudd Bonus

University of Memphis trustees approved a $100,000 bonus Wednesday, Oct. 5, for U of M president David Rudd at Wednesday’s trustees meeting. The bonus is from private funds raised by the university foundation.

The board also approved a six-week paid parental leave policy – specifically the funding for that policy.

And it reviewed scaled-back plans for the $30 million new rec center for students that will incorporate some of the existing rec center. It is being called the Center for Health and Wellness, and it's one of five major projects on campus – north and south of Park Avenue – that will unfold over the next three to four years.

The other projects include the alumni mall, which will feature an amphitheater, and a land bridge over the railroad tracks to connect the campus better. A football training center is also in the works, as is a realignment of Patterson Street at Walker Avenue.

– Bill Dries

Constant Aviation Inks Deal Near Airport

Cleveland, Ohio-based Constant Aviation recently signed a lease to occupy 33,950 square feet at 3720 Distriplex Drive near the intersection of Getwell Road and Shelby Drive.

Hank Martin and Elliot Embry with NAI Saig Co. represented the landlord, Net Magan doing business as NM Getwell LLC. Charles Severe with Crump Commercial represented the tenant.

Cross Comm National LLC, the previous tenant, recently expanded within the park, which created the opening for Constant Aviation.

Built in 1994, the Class A warehouse sits on 1.7 acres and was last appraised at $1.3 million by the Shelby County Assessor.

– Patrick Lantrip

Women In Law Conference Focuses on Leadership

The inaugural Women in Law and Leadership Conference Oct. 13 will feature speakers and discussions on business development leadership and management.

The conference, hosted by the Association for Women Attorneys, is from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women, 6225 Humphreys Blvd.

Among the presenters are keynote speakers Anita Vaughn, the former CEO of the hospital for women, and Jennifer Dziura, the founder of GetBullish.com.

Other speakers include retired Shelby County Circuit Court Judges Robert Childers, who will speak on “Mindfulness in the Law,” and Marla Presley, a labor and employment attorney and litigation manager of Jackson Lewis’ Pittsburgh office, who will present “Under My Umbrella: Women Rainmakers.”

The event also will feature two panel discussions. The Women and Leadership panel will feature retired Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice M. Holder; retired Shelby County Circuit Court Judge Karen R. Williams; Keri Wright, CEO of Universal Asset Management; and Erica Coopwood, president-elect of Junior League of Memphis. And the Hanging Your Own Shingle panel will feature Jennifer Kiesewetter of Kiesewetter Law Firm and Renee Castle of Pfrommer & Castle.

Walk-up registrations are welcome, but attendees are asked to register by Oct. 11 to guarantee a spot, which will include lunch. For details, visit awamemphis.org.

– Bill Dries

Memphis-Based Buckman Buys CiDRA Chemical

Memphis-based Buckman has acquired CiDRA Chemical Management Inc. of Wallingford, Connecticut, Buckman announced Tuesday, Oct. 3. Terms of the deal were not announced.

CiDRA, which makes technology used in mining, oil and gas exploration, and genetic laboratories, was a wholly owned subsidiary of CiDRA Holdings Inc. Buckman took ownership of CiDRA Chemical’s outstanding stock effective Sept. 30, and plans to integrate CiDRA employees into its current workforce.

Buckman, a global specialty chemical company, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bulab Holdings Inc.

In the deal, Buckman gets a global, exclusive and perpetual license to a group of CiDRA’s intellectual property, including patents for measuring entrained air in the paper, pulp, biorefining, bioprocessing and ethanol industries.

Along with exclusive rights to offer the products in those industries, Buckman will have non-exclusive rights to offer them to the oil and gas, automotive, metalworking, and paints and coatings industries.

Sales of the entrained air technology will begin with customers in North America, with global sales to come later.

– Bill Dries

Memphis Offering Benefits To Part-Time Employees

The city of Memphis is rolling out a plan to offer benefits to its part-time employees.

Starting this month, part-time employees who are scheduled for 20 or more hours per week and have been employed by the city for at least a year will be eligible to enroll for benefits such as group accident coverage, cancer assistance, critical illness insurance, term life insurance and individual disability insurance.

And starting Nov. 1, eligible part-time employees will be eligible for a $10,000 death benefit and access to the city’s employee health clinic.

Alex Smith, the city’s chief human resources officer, said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, who took office in January 2016, charged the human resources department with finding new ways to better compensate employees, including part-time workers.

– Daily News staff

Wright Investments To Buy Up to $400M in Hotels

Wright Investments, a Memphis-based hotel management, investment and project management company, is planning to acquire up to $400 million in hotel properties over the next two to three years by investing the firm’s newly raised Hospitality Opportunity Fund II.

The company’s Hospitality Opportunity Fund I, which is now fully deployed, enabled Wright Investments to acquire about $180 million in hotels, including those under major brands such as Hilton Worldwide, Marriott International and InterContinental Hotels Group.

Wright is a second-generation company founded in 1982 by Larry Wright Sr., and has been involved in more than 180 hotels in 27 states and Washington, D.C., via management or ownership.

The company’s current president and CEO is Larry Wright Jr., who said the company’s model involves buying assets “that represent significant value enhancement opportunities.”

The company’s investment preference is for primary and secondary markets, as well as destination locations.

The objective the company is looking for through the hotel investments is to create “strong risk-adjusted returns for investment partners with repositioned business plans.”

Wright’s model is hotel-specific and includes approaches that encompass investment, hotel management – both for its own account and third parties – as well as hotel project management.

– Andy Meek

EEOC Sues Flash Market Over Sexual Harassment

Flash Market LLC, the owner and operator of Mid-South convenience-store gas stations, is being sued by a federal agency over alleged sexual harassment and retaliation at a Memphis store.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission federal lawsuit charges Flash Market permitted a mid-level supervisor to create a sexually hostile work environment for a female cashier at the Shell Flash Market at Poplar Avenue and Hollywood Street, then fired the employee for complaining.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Memphis Division, claims the area supervisor repeatedly propositioned the former Shell employee for sex and made lewd remarks and sexual overtures toward her.

She complained to the store manager about the supervisor’s behavior, but the manager told the former employee the supervisor was sexually harassing her as well and she could do nothing about it, according to the suit.

The employee filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC in September 2013. According to the lawsuit, the area manager fired the employee in retaliation for filing the charge.

The EEOC filed the lawsuit after attempting to reach a voluntary prelitigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The EEOC lawsuit seeks injunctive relief prohibiting Flash Market from discriminating against its female employees, as well as lost wages, compensatory damages and other relief for the former employee.

Flash Market owns and operates more than 90 convenience-store gas stations in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee under the Citgo, Phillips, Conoco and Shell brands. The stores employ approximately 700 workers.

– Daily News staff

Whitmor Inc. Acquires Home-Organization Firm

Whitmor Inc., a Southaven-based provider of home storage, organization and laundry accessory products on the global retail market, has acquired Neat Method, a luxury home-organization services provider with more than 25 offices nationwide.

The acquisition is the first in Whitmor’s history and is believed to be the first business combination within the storage and organization sector of the housewares industry that brings together a product-focused retail supplier and a service provider, according to the company.

Mill Valley, California-based Neat Method offers in-home organization services as well as online services that give customers one-on-one time with an organizer, plus personal shopping lists and step-by-step organization instructions.

“In recent years we identified a real opportunity for our company to become strategically aligned with a home organization service provider,” Whitmor executive vice president Scott Felsenthal said in a release. “Quickly after commencing conversations with Neat Method we knew, without a doubt, that they were the perfect fit for our vision.”

Neat Method co-founders Ashley Murphy and Molly Graves said joining forces with Whitmor was a “natural fit.”

– Daily News staff

PROPERTY SALES 57 94 2,713
MORTGAGES 16 37 1,820
BUILDING PERMITS 303 621 6,322
BANKRUPTCIES 138 138 1,115