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VOL. 132 | NO. 179 | Friday, September 8, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: The Amazon Competition, Millington Shelters and Grizz Ownership Drama

By Bill Dries

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With a social media post Thursday morning, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said the city is ready to compete in a very public competition for the $5-billion second North American headquarters Amazon.com announced earlier Thursday. Some context here. The $5 billion investment by Amazon in what it calls HQ2 compares to the $9 billion St. Jude is investing in its expansion including about $1 billion in capital costs and the rest research, technology and other development costs included in what is more than a physical expansion.

This kind of encouragement by Amazon is not the norm for this kind of competition. This process is usually highly secretive with site consultants doing most of the detail work in the early stages and acting as a cover for their clients throughout. The last time this process was this public, General Motors was looking for a place to land and did so in Spring Hill, Tennessee about 30 years ago. The Saturn plant kicked off an era of big corporate moves in which cities and states competed to see who could offer the most in incentives.

At the Millington Memphis Airport Friday morning, military aircraft from throughout the southeastern U.S. are already settled in the flight center hangar there waiting out the storm further to our south in Florida and the Gulf Coast in general. The airport, which usually serves corporate and private aircraft, is also refueling other planes on their way to rescue assignments.

In Millington Thursday evening, Republican contender for Sheriff Dale Lane rallied supporters and got the endorsement of former sheriff and current county mayor Mark Luttrell in an early race in terms of its pacing. We look at some of the possible names surfacing for county mayor in a telephone poll last month. Lane had already been touting Luttrell’s support on his social media presence. Lane also talked about battling violent crime, gang violence in particular.

The hotel management part of Kemmons Wilson Co. is merging with an international hotel developer – Valor Hospitality and the HQs will be in London and Atlanta with an office here in Memphis.

International Paper selling off its Asian foodservice plants in China.

Tractors to tacos, the co-owner of Belly Acres in Overton Square is teaming with his chef there to open Tennessee Taco Company at the old Los Compadres location in the Poplar Corridor and Ben McLean tells us he still has plans for other locations of Belly Acres.

The cover story by Andy Meek in our weekly, The Memphis News, is a foodie business confidential at an interesting time in the restaurant-food and beverage scene when we are really knocking around that old barbecue stereotype. The PDF of the new issue is on this website already. The hard copies hit the streets Friday morning and the online version of the cover story goes up here Friday afternoon.

In our Friday sports section:

Friday is the eve of the annual Tennessee State-Jackson State matchup at the Liberty Bowl in the main event of the Southern Heritage Classic. That means Day 2 of Classic Tailgate with the Tom Joyner morning show on Tiger Lane, the college and career fair at the Pipkin Building, the coaches luncheon at the Sheraton Downtown and the Classic Music Festival at Landers Center with Fantasia and Babyface following Jeffrey Osborne and Stephanie Mills Thursday at the Orpheum.

The first round playoff series in the Pacific Coast League is even with Colorado Springs beating the Redbirds Thursday at AutoZone Park 5-0. The best of five playoff moves to Colorado Springs Friday. Here’s how the series started.

Don Wade with a regular season review of what has been a very good season for the Redbirds in several respects on and off the field, keeping in mind that a good season in the minor leagues has some very different indicators than success in the majors.

The Ringer ramps up the drama about ownership of the Grizz with one of the minority owners whose name figured prominently in speculation about a year ago eligible to purchase control from majority owner Robert Pera in October. For some context, here is what Deadspin reported on Steve Kaplan and Pera last year.

Speaking of ownership, David Climer on the tenuous ownership situation for the Tennessee Titans as the NFL season is about to begin.

Terry McCormick in Nashville on the Titans complicated injury list. PUP? OTAs?

And Dave Link in Knoxville sets the stage for Big Orange hosting Indiana State at Neyland Saturday.

Think of it as a way of jamming cancer cells. A doctor at Baptist is using an Optune medical device that brain cancer patients wear to send electric fields to disrupt cancer cells to battle the most aggressive type of brain cancer that is incurable.

There are 350 people locally who call 911 for an ambulance more than four times a week. That’s among the findings of a lot of work recently on finding a way to better dispatch ambulances and also be able to make arrangements for medical care that should be something short of a trip to the emergency room – the most expensive health care there is. This past April, RADAR teams began responding instead of ambulances to calls dispatchers identified as non-emergency support calls at a rate of about 10 calls a day.

Among the recommendations of the Tennessee Legislature’s summer study committee on opioid abuse in the state is a requirement to have a doctor’s referral to go to a pain clinic and more limits on what drugs you can get in an emergency room visit.

South of the state line, there are Confederate monument controversies in several Mississippi towns – Oxford and McComb specifically.

Lots of news in about the last month out of Graceland. So at week's end, Graceland announces a restoration project of Elvis's music room at the mansion with a restored piano that was once at Ellis Auditorium as the centerpiece. But before the piano settles in again at the top of the hill, it will be featured in a Christmas concert across the boulevard.

Behind The Headlines is about new efforts to promote and grow the Memphis music industry. Among our guests Pat Mitchell Worley of FanfareCR and the host of Beale Street Caravan and Kevin Kern of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau. The show airs Friday at 7 p.m. on WKNO-TV.

PROPERTY SALES 61 262 16,169
MORTGAGES 28 132 10,054
BUILDING PERMITS 88 424 38,360
BANKRUPTCIES 36 92 7,564