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VOL. 11 | NO. 1 | Saturday, January 6, 2018

Daily Digest

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Ford Appointed City’s New Chief Financial Officer

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland has appointed city comptroller Shirley Ford to be the city’s new chief financial officer.

Strickland announced Ford’s appointment Thursday, Jan. 4, to succeed Brian Collins, who left the position last month to take a private-sector job in Chicago.

City chief operating officer Doug McGowen has been doubling as interim CFO since Collins’ departure.

Ford’s appointment is subject to Memphis City Council approval, and the council could act on it as early as the Tuesday, Jan. 9, session.

Ford has been city comptroller since 2014. She is a certified public accountant and a certified municipal finance officer with 30 years' experience in accounting and finance as well as management.

With a council confirmation, Ford would assume the duties of CFO immediately as Strickland and his administration prepare to present a budget proposal to the council in the spring for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

– Bill Dries

Company Looking Beyond Frayser for Landfill Site

Memphis Wrecking Co. (MWC) is looking at new areas throughout the city of Memphis in lieu of expanding its current landfill operations in Frayser.

In response to concerns from the community about expanding its current site, MWC asked to delay its hearing before the Memphis City Council in December to get community input on opening a new landfill elsewhere in the city.

“We still believe that it is less impactful to expand an existing landfill than open a new one, but we are trying to be responsive to the community,” Carol Williamson, CEO of Memphis Wrecking, said in a release.

Prior to asking for the delay, MWC met with eight Frayser community leaders in a discussion led by city councilman Philip Spinosa to hear their concerns about the expansion.

Location was the most prominent issue – they did not want the landfill to continue operating in Frayser, and they would rather have a new landfill opened somewhere else in the city, Williamson said.

MWC has pulled notices from Memphis Code Enforcement to review five sites, located in Hickory Hill, Cordova and Raleigh. The company hosted its first community meeting in Hickory Hill at the Hickory Ridge Mall on Thursday, Jan. 4, to hear the community’s thoughts about opening a new landfill in the area.

MWC opened the Frayser Landfill and Recycling Center 10 years ago without the intention of expanding onto the adjacent, vacant property. But the company said the increase of new construction, demolition, blight/illegal dump sites, and calls from the city looking for new landfilling options in order to save money prompted the need to expand their operations.

“With only approximately two years left in our current Frayser site, MWC needs to expand or find a new location for the landfill,” Williamson said. “We are a locally-owned small business and need to continue to operate – the last thing we want to do is end 10 years of dedication to Memphis, the war on blight, and put our employees out of their jobs.”

MWC’s expansion plan is still scheduled to be heard by the Memphis City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 9.

– Patrick Lantrip

Tigers Drop Second Straight Conference Road Game

The University of Memphis has opened American Athletic Conference play with consecutive defeats after losing 65-56 at UCF on Wednesday, Jan. 3.

Memphis (9-6, 0-2) has now lost three straight games overall, dating back to a home loss to LSU.

In the most recent setback, guard Kareem Brewton led Memphis with 15 points and forward Kyvon Davenport scored 11 points. The Tigers owned the rebounding edge on UCF 34-33, and forward Raynere Thornton pulled down nine rebounds for Memphis with seven points.

Not much else went right for the Tigers.

Point guard and top scorer this season Jeremiah Martin produced only four points on 1-of-6 shooting from the floor and forward Jimario Rivers played just two minutes because of what coach Tubby Smith termed a violation of team rules.

Memphis shot 39.2 percent from the field and connected on 7-of-17 shots from 3-point range for 41.2 percent. The Tigers again struggled at the free-throw line making 9-of-16 for 56.3 percent.

They also failed to take care of the ball, committing 15 turnovers while making 12 assists.

Forward A.J. Davis led UCF with 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Knights (11-4, 2-1) played without guard B. J. Taylor, their top player.

The Tigers open their AAC home schedule at 3 p.m. vs. Tulsa Saturday, Jan. 6, at FedExForum.

– Don Wade

Kroger to Close 3 Memphis-Area Stores

Kroger is adding to and shrinking its presence in the Memphis area.

Kroger is closing three area stores – two in Memphis, at 1977 S. Third St. and 2269 Lamar Ave., and one in Clarksdale, Mississippi, at 870 S. State St. – on Feb. 3.

The company said each store has lost more than $2 million since 2014 and that they’ll collectively lose $6.3 million by the end of January. They collectively employ 237 associates.

Meanwhile, Kroger also announced its 20th ClickList location in Memphis. Customers at the Kroger location at 2942 Kirby-Whitten Road in Bartlett can start placing orders online at Kroger.com/clicklist starting on Jan. 4. Kroger has spent more than $4 million so far on its ClickList capabilities in the Memphis area, which brings online ordering and pickup service to shoppers.

Kroger also will soon open its most recent fuel center, located at 1411 Poplar Ave. near the Kroger store at Poplar Avenue and Cleveland Street. The grand opening will take place in February, with an official date announced at the end of January.

– Andy Meek

Start Co. Seeks Applications For Accelerator Program

Start Co. has opened the application period for its 2018 startup accelerator program.

Founders with tech-driven business ideas are encouraged to apply to the program, which will run from May 7 to Aug. 16. Selected teams will get $25,000 in funding as well as consideration for Global Accelerator Network investment.

Founders with high-growth potential, tech-driven businesses that have national or global reach are encouraged to apply at https://www.f6s.com/startco.2018accelerator by March 20.

The Start Co. accelerator program will run simultaneously alongside other local accelerator programs. Weekly training sessions, business development, cohort reporting sessions and actionable milestones are all built in to the accelerator curriculum. Teams will also participate in Start-Q during the Memphis in May International Festival World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, which brings founders and business leaders from across the country together for networking events and entrepreneurial programming.

Select alumni teams are also invited to San Francisco in the fall to network with potential investors, mentors and other founders.

Since 2011, Start Co. graduates have received investments of more than $25 million and created and sustained more than 300 jobs.

– Andy Meek

$137M Permit Filed For Convention Center Work

Work on the recently announced $175 million upgrade to the Memphis Cook Convention Center could be on the way soon as a $136.9 million building permit application has been filed with county construction code officials.

The permit application lists modernization of the exterior and interior of the convention center.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland outlined the plan Friday, Dec. 29, saying the $175 million upgrade would be completed by the end of 2019.

Highlights include a new glass concourse on the western side of the building overlooking the river and riverfront; an update of the 120,000-square-foot main exhibition hall to create a 40,000-square-foot secondary ballroom; 20 new meeting rooms that would bring the total of breakout meeting rooms to 52; and five permanent loading docks for the exhibit hall.

– Patrick Lantrip

Shelby, Tipton County Sites Up for National Register

Oaklawn Garden in Germantown and the garage and hotel north of the Sterick Building in Downtown Memphis are among a set of eight nominations to the National Register of Historic Places being considered by the Tennessee State Review board.

Also up for consideration is Bozo’s Hot Pit Bar-B-Q, in the Tipton County town of Mason.

The review board is scheduled to vote on the recommendations at its Jan. 10 meeting in Nashville.

Oaklawn Garden is a botanical garden, park and museum at 7831 Old Poplar Pike in Germantown that includes a historic home dating back to 1854, along with railroad cars and other exhibits.

The Sterick North Garage and Hotel, which currently is undergoing a renovation, is north of the 29-story Sterick Building skyscraper at Madison Avenue and B.B. King Boulevard.

The Sterick Building has been on the National Register since 1978.

The garage and hotel sold in December 2016 for $5.9 million to a Georgia-based business, 22 North Third LLC by Bluff City Partners LLC. The sale includes the parking garage and the hotel atop it, as well as a nightclub and restaurant fronting on B.B. King Boulevard at Court Avenue.

The 211,864-square-foot building was built in 1957.

Bozo’s, at 342 U.S. 70 W., first opened in 1923 and has been featured in regional and national media for its barbecue sandwiches and plates, as well as other dishes.

– Bill Dries

Tigers Coach Norvell Adjusts Football Staff

Three new coaches are joining Mike Norvell’s staff at the University of Memphis.

Keith Patterson and TJ Rushing will immediately fill the spots recently vacated by Dan Lanning and Marcus Woodson. In addition, Will Hall will join the coaching staff as associate head coach and tight ends coach when the new NCAA rule allowing a 10th assistant coach goes into effect Jan. 9.

Patterson will coach the Memphis linebackers. He is a former defensive coordinator at Arizona State, West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Tulsa. He coached linebackers and defensive special teams at Arizona State in 2017.

Rushing, a former Super Bowl Champion with the Indianapolis Colts, will coach the Tigers defensive backs after spending three of the last four seasons on the coaching staff at Arizona State after a seven-year professional football career.

Hall spent the 2017 season as the offensive coordinator for the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns, where six offensive players received all-conference honors.

The current coaching staff responsibilities are as follows:

• Will Hall, associate head coach/tight ends

• Ryan Silverfield, assistant head coach/run game coordinator/offensive line

Kenny Dillingham, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks

David Johnson, wide receivers/passing game coordinator

Anthony Jones, running backs

Chris Ball, defensive coordinator

• Joe Lorig, outside linebackers/special teams coordinator

• Keith Patterson, linebackers/run game coordinator

Paul Randolph, defensive line

• TJ Rushing, defensive backs

– Don Wade

UT Methodist Physicians Adds Three Doctors

A trio of new physicians has joined UT Methodist Physicians, an academic physician practice group created to enhance primary care and hospital-based medical services in the Memphis area.

Dr. John Gleysteen earned his medical degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He continued his education with a residency in otolaryngology at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon, and a fellowship in head and neck surgical oncology and microvascular reconstruction at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Yasser Khorchid attended the University of Damascus in Syria, where he received his medical degree. He completed his residency in neurology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Dr. Arijit Chakravarty earned his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, where he also completed a residency in internal medicine. Chakravarty completed a fellowship in general nephrology at Northshore-Long Island Jewish Medical Center and a fellowship in transplant nephrology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

– Andy Meek

270 Mississippians Eligible For Mortgage Settlement

The Mississippi attorney general’s office says about 270 state residents are eligible for payments from a settlement involving improper servicing of mortgage loans.

Attorney General Jim Hood’s office said Wednesday that Mississippians will receive notification in the mail in the next few months if they are eligible.

The money comes from a multimillion-dollar settlement with New Jersey-based mortgage lender PHH Mortgage Corporation.

Federal prosecutors alleged PHH violated standards for underwriting government-backed mortgages, submitting defective loans for government insurance. PHH says it settled without admitting liability to avoid the distraction and expense of litigation.

Hood’s office says borrowers subject to PHH foreclosures during the period from 2009 through 2012 qualify for a minimum $840 payment. Those who faced foreclosure but didn’t lose their home will get a minimum of $285.

– The Associated Press

Fed Officials Expect Boost From Tax Cuts

Federal Reserve policymakers largely agreed last month that the U.S. tax overhaul would likely benefit the economy, but they were split on whether the resulting growth would warrant a faster pace of rate hikes this year.

Minutes of the Fed’s Dec. 12-13 meeting released Wednesday, Jan. 3, show that officials believed the tax cuts would drive consumer spending and increased business investment, though they expressed uncertainty over the magnitude of the boost.

The minutes indicate disagreement among Fed officials over how many times the Fed should raise its benchmark interest rate in 2018. Some felt that the projection of three rate hikes might prove too aggressive and prevent inflation from returning to the Fed’s 2 percent target.

Others felt more hikes might be needed if any one of a number of risks materialized, including the possibility that inflation might suddenly begin rising at a much faster pace amid cuts in personal and business taxes.

Those who felt that the three hikes reflected in the Fed’s median economic forecast might be too much were concerned that it could make it harder to achieve the Fed’s inflation target.

A “few other participants” were worried that three rate hikes this year might not be enough because “continued low interest rates risked financial instability in the future” or the possibility that the economy could start to overheat given that unemployment is already at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent and expected to decline further.

The minutes covered last month’s discussion, which led to the central bank boosting its key policy rate for a third time in 2017, to a new but still-low range of 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent.

Some analysts have begun to boost their forecast for this year to show four rate hikes, up from three. They expect the economy to grow faster now that Congress has approved the biggest overhaul to the tax code in three decades.

– The Associated Press

DHL Buys 55 Acres In Southeast Memphis

DHL Supply Chain has purchased a 55-acre tract of land in southeast Memphis from Belz Enterprises for more than $1.6 million.

Morris Thomas signed the deed on behalf of the sellers, according to documents filed with the Shelby County Register on Dec. 28.

The sale paves the way for DHL to build a distribution facility on the northern border of the state line between Tchulahoma Road to the west and Meltech Boulevard to the east.

The Daily News first reported news of the proposed 580,000-square-foot distribution facility in September.

Plans for the proposed DHL site call also for 405,000 square feet of paved areas that will include 150 parking spaces for cars and 66 spaces for trailers, according to a copy of the blueprints obtained by The Daily News.

DHL also considered properties at 5121 Malone Road and 2121 E. Raines Road for the distribution center project.

Since the site contains 1.7 acres of federally regulated wetlands that feed into Tenmile Creek, DHL will have to make an in-lieu payment to the Tennessee Wildlife Federation for the 1.3 acres that will be filled. Future expansion plans may affect an additional 0.4 acres of wetlands.

The project will be located less than a mile from Amazon’s $72 million, 615,440-square-foot receive center, which is being built at 3292 Holmes Road.

– Patrick Lantrip

IP Transfers Consumer Packaging Division

Memphis-based International Paper announced Tuesday, Jan. 2, it has completed the transfer of its North America Consumer Packaging business to Graphic Packaging of Atlanta, Georgia.

The $1.8 billion deal was announced in October with terms including IP buying a 20.5 percent ownership interest in the subsidiary of Graphic Packaging. That interest represents the bulk of the dollar figure for the transaction.

The assets of the business include 3,900 employees, two coated paperboard mills and three converting facilities in the U.S., and one converting facility in the United Kingdom.

Graphic Packaging assumes $660 million of International Paper debt.

IP executives made the decision to transfer the business and buy a stake in Graphic Packaging after concluding International Paper didn’t have the necessary scale on its own to get the most out of the business unit.

– Bill Dries

Buckman Names Staples VP of Water Division

Christine Staples, a 20-year veteran of Ecolab’s corporate leadership team, is the new global vice president of the water division of Memphis-based Buckman.

The privately held global chemical company announced Staples’ appointment Tuesday, Jan. 2

Buckman CEO Junai Maharaj said in a written statement Staples was selected after “a rigorous search.”

“Christine has demonstrated throughout her career the ability to work successfully in different environments, designing and leading strategies which resulted in impressive value creation,” he said.

Staples’ position at Buckman includes overseeing the company’s industrial water treatment sector.

At Ecolab, she worked in sales, supply chain, marketing, and strategic planning with the regional and global water and energy business units. She most recently served as global general manager of Nalco Champion, a division of Ecolab.

– Bill Dries

Levy Dermatology Opens in Collierville

Local dermatology practice Levy Dermatology recently opened its newest location at 1125 Schilling Blvd. E., suite 105, in Collierville. Ten team members work at the new location, which is approximately 3,000 square feet.

“This is only our second location, and we specifically chose Collierville because of the patient demand to have greater access to our services here and in the surrounding areas,” Dr. Alan Levy said in a statement.

The practice’s first location is at 6254 Poplar Ave. in East Memphis.

Levy Dermatology is a state-of-the-art center for skin cancer surgery, cosmetic and laser surgery, dermatology and dermatologic surgery.

Along with Levy, the practice includes two other board-certified dermatologists, Dr. Danielle Levine and Dr. John Huber. In addition, the staff includes nurse practitioner Lauren Plyler; physician assistant Jodi Burgess; licensed aestheticians Marcy Blen, Kimberley Schratz and Rebekah Marrow; and support staff that includes nurses, medical assistants and technicians.

– Daily News staff

Chism Files to Run For County Mayor

Former Shelby County Commissioner Sidney Chism is the latest contender to file his qualifying petition for the May 1 county primaries.

Chism filed before the New Year’s holiday in the Democratic primary for Shelby County mayor after declaring his candidacy last year.

Chism is running in a Democratic mayoral primary that includes state Sen. Lee Harris. The Republican primary includes Shelby County Trustee David Lenoir, Juvenile Court Clerk Joy Touliatos and County Commissioner Terry Roland.

Among the latest potential contenders pulling qualifying petitions is Melody McLeary of Millington, who has pulled to run in the Republican primary election for County Commission District 1, the seat Roland is leaving because of term limits.

Other potential contenders in the District 1 race include Amber Mills in the Republican primary and Racquel Collins in the Democratic primary.

David Vinciarelli has pulled a qualifying petition to run in the Democratic primary for County Commission District 8, the seat currently held by Democrat Walter Bailey, who is term-limited. Vinciarelli had already pulled a petition to run in the Democratic primary for trustee.

Three other potential candidates have pulled petitions to run in the Democratic primary for Commission District 8

The deadline for candidates to file for the primary ballot is noon Feb. 15.

– Bill Dries

IMC Cos. Acquires H&M Terminal Transport

IMC Cos., a Memphis-based provider of nationwide intermodal logistics, has acquired the drayage and depot operations of H&M Terminal Transport.

As part of IMC Cos., the new company will operate under the name H&M Intermodal Services and brings the number of brands under the IMC umbrella to nine.

“Like us, the H&M team specializes in container drayage,” Mark H. George, chairman of IMC Cos. said in a release announcing the acquisition. “What’s more, this acquisition enhances our existing national footprint that allows us to handle freight in any major rail or port facility in the United States.”

The acquisition of H&M, which has six locations and 140 drivers, brings IMC’s employee count to more than 2,100 workers nationwide.

Other IMC Cos. include Atlantic Intermodal Services, DNJ Intermodal Services, Gulf Intermodal Services, IMC Global Solutions, Intermodal Cartage Co., National Drayage Services, Ohio Intermodal Services and Progressive Transportation Services.

– Patrick Lantrip

SunTrust Taking Actions In Wake of Tax Reform Bill

SunTrust Banks Inc. has announced a set of actions it’s taking in the wake of the recently passed tax reform bill that include increasing its minimum wage and making grants to communities.

Among the pledges it’s making are a commitment of $50 million in additional community grants to national and local financial well-being efforts; a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour; merit-based pay increases for about 20 percent of its workforce; a 1 percent 401(k) contribution to retirement savings for all workers, in addition to the company’s 6 percent match opportunity; and a $1,000 financial incentive for all workers who complete SunTrust’s Momentum onUp financial fitness program.

SunTrust joins a growing list of companies to announce corporate investments in the wake of the tax reform legislation. Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp., the parent company of First Tennessee Bank, said it will pay one-time $1,000 bonuses in January.

– Andy Meek

Unemployment Remains Low in Most Counties

Unemployment rates remained low across Tennessee in November, with the vast majority of counties continuing to experience rates below 5 percent, according to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips.

Shelby County’s rate stood at 4 percent in November, the latest Labor and Workforce Development figures show.

Davidson and Williamson counties in Middle Tennessee tied for the lowest unemployment rate of 2.5 percent.

All counties in the top 10 had a rate lower than 3 percent, and unemployment rates in 87 Tennessee counties remained under 5 percent in November.

“While unemployment rates remain near historically low levels in many counties, there are still areas that need our assistance,” Phillips said. “We are working with other state agencies, like the Department of Economic and Community Development, to create jobs and qualified workforces in those distressed counties.”

– Patrick Lantrip

Apple Apologizes For Slowing Older iPhones

Apple apologized for secretly slowing down older iPhones, a move it said was necessary to avoid unexpected shutdowns related to battery fatigue.

Many customers had interpreted the move as a way to for Apple to juice demand for newer iPhone models, their suspicions fueled by the fact that the company didn’t initially disclose the slowdowns or its reasons for them.

Apple also said it will cut the price of a battery replacement by $50 to $29 through next year. New batteries had previously cost $79 for those who didn’t purchase the Apple Care maintenance plan.

“We apologize,” the company said on its website. “We have never – and would never – do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.”

The replacement plan begins in late January for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later that requires a new battery.

Apple said it will also issue an update to its operating system early next year to give users a better understanding of the health of their battery, so they can see if its condition is affecting performance.

Hostile customer reaction was swift after a report this month uncovered the intentional slowdown in speed tests.

Only then did Apple acknowledge that the slowdown was due to a fix it rolled out last year.

At least five groups seeking class action status, involving consumers in Texas, Illinois, California and New York, have also sued the company in the wake of the slowdown revelation.

– The Associated Press

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