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VOL. 133 | NO. 53 | Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Daily Digest

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Raleigh Town Center To Break Ground

Construction on the new $28 million Raleigh Town Center begins this month, city of Memphis leaders announced Tuesday, March 13.

The city project is on the site of the demolished Raleigh Springs Mall on the southeast corner of Yale Road and Austin Peay Highway. It will include a new Raleigh branch public library, a new police precinct and traffic precinct, a city skate park and an 11-acre lake with a walking trail.

The town center also includes 20 acres of land to be privately developed.

“The overall location makes it a good option,” said Mary Claire Borys, project director with the city division of Housing and Community Development. “But the pastoral setting would also be really good for health care facilities, like a dialysis or rehab clinic, and for a mini-office park, which could address the low level of good office space in the area.”

Two weeks ago, the city filed $25 million in building permit applications for the project.

The plans submitted to the Office of Construction Code Enforcement included the $18.2 million police precinct, $6.1 million library branch and $800,000 skate park.

The project has taken six years to get to this point, with city council member Bill Morrison pushing for the concept through several versions.

It was also one of three town centers the city envisioned in different areas that would mix private development and retail with government uses.

The difficulties included multiple owners of different parcels of the mall footprint and a dispute with the owners of the mall who contended the city efforts were undercutting their bid to find new retail tenants for the mall.

The town center is scheduled to be completed in June 2019.

– Bill Dries

Riviana, Ebrofrost Plan South Memphis Expansion

Riviana Foods’ South Memphis rice facility is growing again. The Houston, Texas-based company has filed a $3.1 million building permit application for site work at the 2360 Prospect St. plant it shares with Ebrofrost North America, the U.S. arm of German rice and pasta manufacturer Ebrofrost Holding GmbH.

The two companies partnered about a year ago on plans for a multimillion-dollar facility to process and distribute frozen rice, pasta and grain products. The plans included Ebrofrost leasing and renovating part of Riviana’s 1970s-era Prospect Street facility, which is just southwest of The Links at Pine Hill golf course, and building a new warehouse onto the building.

The permit comes after the Economic Development Growth Engine board on Feb. 21 approved an application to amend the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes incentive it awarded Ebrofrost last April. Originally, the company was awarded a seven-year PILOT for the project, which was to include a $26 million capital investment and create 16 jobs with a median base salary of $48,477.

The amendment increases the PILOT to eight years after the company increased the capital investment to $26.5 million, with plans to create 19 new jobs with a median salary of $60,654.

– Daily News staff

Feds Award $570K For Civil Rights History Projects

The U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service announced $570,000 in funding Monday, March 12, for three projects that focus on the history of the civil rights movement in Memphis.

The largest of the grants is $500,000 to help fund the restoration of Clayborn Temple, the church south of FedExForum that was a staging ground for the daily marches by striking sanitation workers in 1968.

A $50,000 grant will go toward a summer institute to train teachers on a Memphis Heritage Trail curriculum. The trail is a set of historical sites significant to not only the civil rights movement but also black history in the city dating back to the 19th century.

Both of those grants are to the city’s Housing and Community Development division.

Another $20,000 grant was awarded Monday to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which also is working on the restoration of the church.

– Bill Dries

Memphis Medical Orgs Get $1.2M in Research Grants

More than $1.2 million in federal grant money is on its way to Memphis for medical research efforts.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded new research grants to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Healthchart LLC, a Memphis firm that manufactures diagnostic medical equipment.

An $856,730 grant is going to St. Jude for allergy, immunology and transplantation research. UTHSC is getting a $76,000 grant to fund clinical research related to neurological disorders. And Healthchart LLC has been awarded $299,397 for cancer detection and diagnosis research.

– Andy Meek

Memphis Inner City Rugby Plans March 16 Fundraiser

Memphis Inner City Rugby is planning “An Evening With MICR” Friday, March 16, to celebrate the young men and women who take part in the league.

Among the evening’s highlights, Freedom Preparatory Academy’s girls’ rugby team will receive rings for their recent championship win, and World Rugby Hall of Famer Phaidra Knight will present the keynote address.

Additionally, attendees can enjoy a screening of “The Rugby Boys of Memphis,” the critically acclaimed documentary centered on Memphis rugby that appeared at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

Friday’s event runs from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the University Club, 1346 Central Ave.

Proceeds will benefit MICR and its programming. Tickets are $50 and the event includes an open bar (beer, wine) and hors d’oeuvres. Visit memphisinnercityrugby.org for more information.

– Don Wade

NFIB: Optimism Soaring Among Small Businesses

Small-business owners are showing unprecedented confidence in the economy as the optimism index continues at record high numbers, rising to 107.6 in February, according to the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends Survey released Tuesday, March 13.

The historically high numbers include a jump in small-business owners increasing capital outlays and raising compensation.

“When small-business owners have confidence and certainty in the economy, they’re able to hire more workers and invest in their business,” said NFIB president and CEO Juanita Duggan in a release. “The historically high readings indicate that policy changes – lower taxes and fewer regulations – are transformative for small businesses. After years of standing on the sidelines and not benefiting from the so-called recovery, Main Street is on fire again.”

The 107.6 optimism reading in February is matched only by similar high readings in 2004 and 2005 before the Great Recession.

For the first time since 2006, taxes received the fewest votes as the No. 1 business problem for small businesses. The February report shows several components of the index reached noteworthy highs.

In a sign that small businesses are confident and expect growth, owners are spending capital with a net 22 percent planning to raise worker compensation and 66 percent reported capital outlays, up 5 points from January and the highest reading since 2004.

Moreover, owners expecting higher real sales rose 3 points to a net 28 percent, one of the best readings since 2007. Owners also reported higher nominal sales in the past three months at a net 8 percent of all owners.

The net percent of owners reporting inventory increases rose 3 percentage points to a net 7 percent on top of a 6-point rise in January.

“Small-business owners are telling us loud and clear that they’re optimistic, ready to hire, and prepared to raise wages – it’s one of the strongest readings I’ve seen in the 45-year history of the index,” said NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg. “The fact that several components saw significant increases tells us that small businesses are flourishing in a way we haven’t seen in over a decade.”

Job creation remained strong in February, as reported in the NFIB February Jobs Report, released last week.

Finding qualified workers remained as the number one problem for small business owners, surpassing taxes and regulations which have held the top two spots for years.

– Daily News staff

PROPERTY SALES 64 87 1,429
MORTGAGES 39 60 1,107