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VOL. 133 | NO. 54 | Thursday, March 15, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: The Memphis Hub Modernization, Gun Protests and MLK 50 Plans

By Bill Dries

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The announcement Wednesday, March 14, of the $1 billion expansion of the FedEx Memphis Super Hub drew FedEx founder Fred Smith and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam but otherwise was suprisingly low key for a six-year modernization process.

Back in January, the FedEx board approved a $3.2 billion package that had pay raises, bonuses and similar items that have become the corporate reaction to federal tax reform that set a lower rate of taxation for companies that repatriate money they have overseas. There was a mention of $1.5 billion for the Indianapolis hub and unspecified plans for the Memphis hub to come later. And later was yesterday in a pretty modest announcement at Signature Air given the scope of what FedEx has planned for its Super Hub here.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam actually said at one point, “If we were here announcing a new company was going to invest a billion dollars, there would be balloons and fireworks.” There were several big bright and shiny FedEx jets parked as a backdrop for the announcement which included FedEx founder Fred Smith. This is the second $1-billion expansion and modernization announced in the last year or so for the city – the other being the $1 billion in capital St. Jude intends to spend on its campus expansion with several billion more on programming and technology.

Tubby Smith's departure from Tigers basketball became official Wednesday. Still to come is a decision on a new basketball coach.

The FedEx brass is emphasizing that this is a “modernization” which means better technology including automation and that the Memphis hub’s status as the company’s largest of its kind will remain.

One decision made at the University of Memphis and another one to come. Inbetween the university is still talking precise buyout terms with former coach Tubby Smith. That means they are close enough to call it all but done.

Student walkouts Wednesday at Rhodes and the U of M as part of protests across the country calling for gun control in the wake of the Parkland, Florida massacre one month ago. While K-12 school systems in other parts of the state and country were in session. This week has been spring break for Shelby County Schools and most of the schools districts in Shelby County.

Chalkbeat on plans for March 24 and April 20 protests here.


Meanwhile, a longer running and less visible political battle is underway in the Tennessee Legislature that pits gun control measures against proposals that would actually do away with some existing restrictions. Our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard, in his “View From The Hill” column, looks at the efforts on both sides including Memphians lobbying for more restrictive gun measures.

The bill that would have made it a felony for a member of any local elected body to “knowingly” vote for an ordinance or resolution that is in conflict with state or federal law died in committee Wednesday in Nashville. It was sent to summer study committee, which also means that while it starts all over with the session next year it will likely be back in some form. The bill is a reaction to the removal of Confederate monuments in two Memphis parks this past December. And there was plenty of debate in subcommittee.

In the race for Tennessee governor, two campaign finance complaints against Republican contender Diane Black are dismissed by TREF – Tennessee Registry of Election Finance.

Black, meanwhile, was taking on Republicans in the Legislature, including some in the Shelby County delegation, who back the idea of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants – questioning their conservative and Republican credentials.

“Too many times, so called conservatives get elected promising to fight against liberal policies, only to embrace them once in office.”

The first week in April is beginning to fill with events marking the 50th anniversary of the sanitation workers strike and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

She was reacting to the in-state tuition bill making it out of a House subcommittee in Nashville this week, a bill sponsored and championed by Memphis Republican Mark White.

Black and White are both on the August ballot in different races and with less than a month to the filing deadline the set of state and federal primaries as well as nonpartisan county races are starting to take shape. Here is our overview of the developing ballot.

The calendar for events marking the 50th anniversary of the sanitation workers strike and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is starting to fill in for the week of April 1-7 – the week that marks 50 years to the day that King was assassinated. The latest events include a new march from St. Mary’s Episcopal Church to City Hall by a group of religious leaders to mark a similar march in 1968, the day after King’s death for a meeting with then-Mayor Henry Loeb. And three of the religious leaders who made the march 50 years ago will be there for this one.

The retail strip across Austin Peay Highway from what is to become the Raleigh Town Center  sells for $6 million from a Dallas-based group to a Brooklyn-based group. This is the strip with a Save-A-Lot and Christ Community Health Services.

Capital Financial completes its headquarters move to Clark Tower in East Memphis.

“The Memphis market right now actually kind of reminds me of the Nashville Market maybe five years ago.” So says the owner of a new food truck coming to town to sell us wings.

Memphis Leadership Foundation providing back office support to local nonprofits has been going on for a while. The foundation is now going beyond providing payroll, insurance and other HR functions to the nonprofits it has had a hand in launching to offer the services to other nonprofits.

South Main between G.E. Patterson and St. Paul closed to through traffic starting Thursday because the renovation work that will change Central Station into a hotel is about to get started.

Band of Horses booked for an Aug. 5 show at the Orpheum.

PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 0 131 1,047