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VOL. 133 | NO. 36 | Monday, February 19, 2018

Daily Digest

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Graceland Lawsuit Against Grizz Dismissed

Graceland’s legal challenge of the noncompete agreement between the city and the Memphis Grizzlies was dismissed Thursday, Feb. 15, by Chancellor Jim Kyle.

Kyle ruled that Graceland, in effect, didn’t have a case because the noncompete agreement doesn’t involve Graceland directly. It is an agreement between city and county governments and Memphis Basketball LLC, the ownership group of the Grizzlies, which also runs FedExForum.

The agreement is that Memphis Basketball runs FedExForum, including absorbing any red ink in the operation in exchange for what is effectively veto power over any local government-financed indoor venue of more than 5,000 seats.

Graceland announced in August that it intended to build a $50 million, 5,000- to 6,000-seat venue on its Whitehaven campus to open in 2019.

Joel Weinshanker, the managing partner of Graceland Holdings LLC, said the event center was not meant to compete with FedExForum and he was talking with city officials about taking an application for a tax abatement to the Economic Development Growth Engine in September.

All of that stopped when Graceland withdrew the project at the EDGE board meeting, citing opposition from the Grizzlies. Graceland’s attorneys said their own legal opinion was that the project didn’t violate the noncompete. But they still put the project on hold hoping some kind of agreement could be reached, including changes to the event center plans.

The lawsuit, filed by EPE in November, alleged that city and county governments stopped talks with Graceland on the project as well. The lawsuit named the city, the county and Memphis Basketball as defendants.

The argument was that the noncompete was interfering with Graceland’s project. Graceland’s position is that it can’t pursue tax breaks from EDGE without some kind of declaration on the noncompete in their favor.

The city’s position initially was that there was nothing to stop Graceland from going ahead with the event center without local government funding.

That was the position Kyle took in denying the declaratory judgment Graceland sought to proceed with the project.

Elvis Presley Enterprises could appeal Thursday’s ruling.

– Bill Dries

First Horizon National Corp. Announces Employee Raises

A little more than a month after the parent company of First Tennessee Bank distributed one-time $1,000 bonuses to employees, the company is rolling out another employee perk.

Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp. is bumping up the minimum pay level of employees to $15 an hour, part of its continued re-investment of savings stemming from the recent federal tax legislation.

The total cost to the company is about $6 million, which is in addition to the $1,000 bonuses and a recent $16.5 million contribution to the First Tennessee Foundation.

The company late in 2017 announced the one-time cash bonuses to 70 percent of its workforce, which stands at nearly 6,000 following its recent merger with Capital Bank. The company employs more than 4,100 across Tennessee.

The pay increases were for employees who were not already at or above the $15-an-hour level. That includes a little less than 200 employees in Memphis.

“First Horizon’s continued strong results are driven by the individual and collective efforts of all our employees,” Bryan Jordan, First Horizon’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement about the raises. “As a result of the recent tax reform, First Tennessee invested a portion of the tax savings back into our people and our communities to strengthen our business.”

The reinvestment also follows First Horizon’s merger with Capital Bank, which closed on Nov. 30. The merger created the fourth largest regional bank in the Southeast, with about $41 billion in assets, $31 billion in deposits, $28 billion in loans and nearly 350 branches in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, Texas and Virginia.

– Andy Meek

St. Jude, 3 Other Memphis Companies Make Fortune List

Fortune magazine has named St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to the “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for the eighth consecutive year.

The annual list distinguishes companies with exceptional workplace cultures that foster employee engagement and trust. Employee opinion surveys determine each company’s ranking.

According to this year’s survey, 93 percent of St. Jude employees believe the hospital is a “Great Place to Work,” and 98 percent said they have pride in the work they do. St. Jude has more than 4,300 employees on its campus in Memphis.

“St. Jude is a special place for many reasons, but the talent, dedication and compassion of our employees make all the difference,” said James R. Downing, M.D., St. Jude president and CEO. “Across scientific, clinical and administrative operations at St. Jude, we strive to give employees the resources and support that will help them do their best work and make the most of their careers.”

St. Jude has initiated employee-inspired programs to foster a successful workplace culture, including the Blueprint Series, which features presentations designed to support the connection among employees and leadership groups. Each session spotlights leaders from different areas of the hospital who provide overviews of the areas they direct, explaining how their teams’ work advances the St. Jude mission.

St. Jude ranked No. 57 on the Fortune Top 100 list, the highest finish for any Memphis-based organization. Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare was ranked No. 91, FedEx Corp. came in at No. 94 and Baker Donelson law firm ranked No. 96, making the list a ninth consecutive time.

Pinnacle Financial Partners, a Nashville-based financial services company with a growing presence in Memphis, ranked No. 22 on Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For.”

– Daily News staff

U of M Women’s Golf Invited to Augusta Tourney

The University of Memphis women’s golf team has been invited to play in the 3M Augusta Invitational Golf Tournament March 15-18, 2018, at Forest Hills Golf Club.

Located in Augusta, Georgia, host city for the annual Masters golf tournament, the Forest Hills Golf Club has its own history with Bobby Jones beginning his 1930 Grand Slam of Golf at Forest Hills in the Southeastern Open to college events where future greats like Phil Mickelson (1989), Davis Love III (1981, 1982) and others competed.

The U of M women will compete against 14 other universities, including Purdue, Georgia and Virginia Tech. The event is open and free to the public.

Practice rounds begin Thursday, March 15, at noon. The three-day, 54-hole tournament on the par-72 course will begin on Friday, March 16, with tee times off No. 1 and No. 10 tees starting at 9:30 a.m. Tee times begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday, March 17.

An awards ceremony for winners of the tournament will be held Sunday after play is completed.

The annual Masters golf tournament at Augusta National will be played April 5-8.

– Daily News staff

LEO Events Preparing For New Headquarters

LEO Events has filed a building permit application with the Office of Construction Code Enforcement to begin work on its new Medical District headquarters.

The $1.7 million tenant buildout application lists Metro Construction as the general contractor.

In January, LEO Events was given approval by the Center City Revenue Finance Corp. to purchase two parcels of the Bakery Development, located at 407 and 411 Monroe Ave., from the project’s developers, PKG Properties.

Since the CCRFC approved a 20-year tax incentive to help offset construction costs for PKG Properties in August, LEO had to seek a partial assignment from the board, an affiliate entity of the Downtown Memphis Commission.

In total, the $73 million mixed-used Bakery Development project will consist of 86 upscale multifamily units, a 480-space parking garage and 150,000 square feet of office and retail space spread out across five parcels centered on the former Wonder Bread factory on Monroe Avenue.

– Patrick Lantrip

PROPERTY SALES 76 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 83 131 1,047
BUILDING PERMITS 190 277 3,028