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Inside a biocontainment lab at University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, scientists are looking for missing S proteins in the DNA of local coronavirus cases.

A COVID-19 mutation prevalent in the U.K. that is now confirmed in the U.S. can make the virus spread more easily, infecting more people, and thus raising the likelihood of more fatalities. The strain, called B117, may be in Tennessee now.

The hope is that each new case with this mutation, identified by the missing protein, can be caught early, its victims put in isolation immediately and close contacts notified to quarantine so it does not spread.

Meanwhile, Tesla may be joining the list of other big tech companies growing their presence in the Memphis area market.

A broker tells The Daily Memphian the end user of a vacant Hyundai dealership in the Wolfchase area is the vehicle manufacturer Tesla. It would join tech giants Google, which is setting up operations in DeSoto County, and Amazon, which continues building its distribution infrastructure across the Memphis market.

The evidence of Amazon’s investment is clear as e-commerce continues to drive demand for fulfillment and distribution operations in the industrial sector in Memphis.

A new CBRE market report shows the Memphis area absorbed 12 million square feet of industrial space in 2020, shattering the old mark of just over 8 million square feet.

There is much more business news below. – Terry Hollahan, business editor

 
 
Local scientists, labs rushing to sequence UK variant
 

Variant doesn’t appear to be more virulent but could ramp reproduction rate here from 1.07 to 1.57 and dramatically increase deaths. 

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Tesla may be charging toward Memphis
 

A veteran Memphis real estate broker says he believes Tesla is coming to Memphis soon. The broker represented the seller in a transaction this week involving the former — and now vacant — Homer Skelton Wolfchase Hyundai dealership property at 3020 N. Germantown Parkway.

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Record-smashing 2020 reflects demand for industrial space in Memphis area
 

When you add all the industrial space leased during 2020 and subtract the new vacancies, the Memphis area experienced a net positive absorption of more than 12 million square feet. The vacancy rate fell to 5%, and 12 million square feet of more space is under construction.

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Lipscomb & Pitts becomes part of a larger insurance company
 

Memphis-based Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance is now a Higginbotham company, but will continue to operate as “Lipscomb & Pitts.” The two co-chief executives, Mat Lipscomb III and Johnny Pitts, have been named managing partners by the Fort Worth-based Higginbotham.

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IP to sell packaging business in Turkey
 

IP owns a little more than 90% of the Turkish company.

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Canadian firm buys Olive Branch industrial building
 

The Quebec-based Quint Group paid $8.75 million to Illinois-based Agracel Inc. for a 258,000-square-foot industrial building. Kemp Conrad, a principal with Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors, will represent Quint Group in leasing the building.

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Probiotic pair grows commercial kitchen, other entrepreneurs
 

OtherFoods Kitchen now serves 25 small businesses that make everything from take-home meals to bagels to gluten-free dog treats. The shared commercial kitchen rents its facilities by the hour, allowing startup businesses to avoid big overhead costs.

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Macy's at Carriage Crossing closing
 

The store’s location in Collierville is expected to close by the end of 2021.

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