VOL. 132 | NO. 179 | Friday, September 8, 2017
Strickland: Memphis to Make Bid for New Amazon HQ
Hours after Amazon.com announced its plans to open a second North American headquarters, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said the city will be putting its name in the hat.
Strickland made the announcement Thursday, Sept. 7, via Twitter by retweeting a USA Today article with the caption: “We’re on it. We’ll absolutely make a bid. The @CityOfMemphis has so much to offer!”
Amazon said it plans on investing more than $5 billion and bringing as many as 50,000 “high-paying” jobs to the new campus, which will be known as HQ2.
“We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in a release. “Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in up-front and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. We’re excited to find a second home.”
For reference, Amazon’s Seattle headquarters is comprised of 33 buildings totaling 8.1 million square feet. In addition to the 40,000 Amazon employees, the campus also has 24 on-site restaurants and cafes.
The company estimates that from 2010 to 2016, the Seattle headquarters injected $38 billion into the local economy.
Amazon said that when choosing a location for the second headquarters, it will be looking for metropolitan areas with more than 1 million people, urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent, and communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options.
Currently, Amazon employs more than 380,000 people worldwide and was ranked 12th in the 2017 Fortune 500 list.
– Patrick Lantrip
Elvis’ Baby Grand Piano Returning to Graceland
A white baby grand piano Elvis Presley bought for the music room of Graceland shortly after moving in is returning to the Whitehaven mansion after a restoration.
The refurbished 1912 Knabe, which features gold accents, will be unveiled at the mansion in December and played during shows at Elvis Presley’s Memphis – the entertainment complex across Elvis Presley Boulevard from the mansion – as part of a first-ever Graceland holiday concert weekend Dec. 15 and 16.
The music room at Graceland is being restored with original white-and-blue draperies and a gold couch. All were elements of the room in 1964.
Presley bought the piano in 1957 from Jack Marshall Piano-Organs of Memphis for $818.85 and refurbished it.
The piano remained at Graceland until 1968, then was put into storage before being sold to Ted Sturges, owner of Sturges Recording Studio in Memphis, in 1976. It changed hands several times after that and was last refurbished by the C.B. Coltharp Piano Service, which restored the instrument to its 1957 appearance.
Before Presley purchased the baby grand, it had been at Ellis Auditorium, where it was the house piano dating back to the early 1930s. The auditorium was the city’s largest indoor venue prior to the Mid-South Coliseum and stood on the northeast corner of Front Street and Poplar Avenue, where the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts is now.
– Bill Dries
Last 2 Bates Family Members Sentenced in Ponzi Scheme
The last two members of former Tennessee lawmaker Larry Bates’ family who were convicted of swindling investors out of $21 million in a gold-and-silver investment scheme have been sentenced.
U.S. District Judge Sheryl Lipman on Wednesday, Sept. 6, sentenced Robert Bates, one of Larry Bates’ sons, to 12 years and 7 months in prison and ordered him to pay $19.6 million in restitution to victims. Robert Bates’ wife, Kinsey Brown Bates, was sentenced to 5 years and 3 months in prison and ordered to pay $9.5 million.
The pair, along with Larry Bates and his other son, Chuck Bates, were convicted in May of mail and wire fraud and conspiracy in a Ponzi scheme that involved the buying and selling of gold and silver coins. The scheme lasted from 2002 to October 2013, with the Bates family advertising on Christian television talk shows as well as their own radio network.
Lipman sentenced Larry Bates to 21 years and 10 months in prison and Chuck Bates to 12 years and 7 months in prison in separate sentencing hearings Tuesday, Sept. 5. Larry Bates was also ordered to pay $21.2 million in restitution and Chuck Bates to pay $10.6 million in restitution.
“Today, justice has finally been served to members of the Bates family as a result of their decade-long Ponzi scheme,” acting U.S. Attorney Larry Laurenzi said Wednesday in a written statement. “Their corruption ploy – which devastated and destroyed the lives of many hard-working individuals – ended today. I hope this will serve as a clear-cut message that the United States Attorney’s Office and its law enforcement partners will work tirelessly to expose and bring to justice people responsible for such acts of greed and corruption.”
– Bill Dries
Memphis Linebacker Dillon To Miss Rest of Season
Senior University of Memphis linebacker Jackson Dillon will miss the remainder of the 2017 season due to a shoulder injury suffered in the Tigers’ 39-27 victory over Louisiana-Monroe in the season opener Aug. 31.
“We are disappointed for him but are planning on filing a medical hardship on his behalf for a sixth season,” Tigers coach Mike Norvell said.
Jackson missed the 2016 season due to injuries, but appeared in 38 games in his first three seasons at Memphis. For his career, he has 109 tackles, including 20.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two blocked kicks.
– Don Wade
Redbirds’ Flaherty Named PCL Player of the Month
Memphis Redbirds right-handed pitcher Jack Flaherty was named the Pacific Coast League Player of the Month for August in a vote by the team managers.
In five August starts, Flaherty went 4-1 with a 1.97 ERA and struck out 29 while walking seven. His finest outing was 7.0 innings of shutout, two-hit work at Tacoma Aug. 6, and he allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his five starts in the month. Flaherty helped the Redbirds to a division championship before making his Major League debut with the St. Louis Cardinals on Sept. 1 at San Francisco.
In all, Flaherty was 7-2 with a 2.74 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 85.1 innings over 15 starts as a Redbird.
– Don Wade
Sunstar Buys Insurance Assets From Simmons Bank
Memphis-based Sunstar Insurance Group LLC has purchased the property and casualty accounts and assets from the insurance affiliates of Simmons Bank.
The acquisition will give Sunstar – a regional agency currently operating in Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas, and Helena, Arkansas – a new area of operations in the middle south region. Andrew “A.B.” Meadors, an insurance executive with three decades of experience, will head up the Sunstar operations as CEO of Arkansas and Tennessee.
Founded in 2012, Sunstar has grown to become the 73rd-largest property and casualty insurance agency in the U.S. as ranked by the industry trade magazine Insurance Journal. Sunstar has more than $150 million in premiums placed on behalf of clients, representing all the major national insurance companies, and most of the regionally focused carriers as well, covering commercial lines, personal lines, employee benefits and surety bonds.
– Andy Meek
Honeywell Inks Lease At Airport Industrial Park
Honeywell International Inc., a Fortune 100 software-industrial company based in New Jersey, has signed a lease to occupy 100,000 square feet inside the Airport Industrial Park.
Hank Martin and Brian Califf with NAI Saig Co. represented the landlord, BLC Memphis, in the deal.
Located at 4049 E. Raines Road, the 145,000-square-foot warehouse was built in 1973. The Shelby County Assessor appraised it at $2.3 million this year.
Founded in 1885, Honeywell is a conglomerate that produces consumer and commercial products and services. Its industries range from aerospace and specialty chemicals to vehicles and footwear.
– Patrick Lantrip