Daily Briefs

By Published: February 28, 2019 12:59 PM CT
  • St.Jude to receive $6.5 million Cancer Support Center grant 
  • Lee announces mental health, suicide prevention efforts
  • Tech901 receives First Tennessee Foundation grant 
  • AutoZone posts 2019 second quarter earnings 
  • MSCAA to host public meeting on drones 
  • Carvana files permit for Memphis auto 'vending machine'
  • South Memphis honored for health initiatives
  • Air Canada to add larger planes for Memphis-Toronto route

St.Jude to receive $6.5 million Cancer Support Center grant 

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis announced Tuesday St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will be receiving a Cancer Support Center grant of $6,533,713 from the National Cancer Institute.

Cohen said the grant will allow St. Jude to continue to lead as an “outstanding institution and employer in Memphis,” and said he is “pleased” the grant will permit St. Jude to continue its important work.

“St. Jude is the premier hospital specializing in the fight against childhood cancers,” he said. 

-Natalie Martin

Gov. Lee announces steps to increase mental health treatment, expand suicide prevention efforts

Gov. Bill Lee Tuesday announced three initiatives aimed at increasing access to mental health treatment and expanding suicide prevention efforts.

“The mental health of our citizens is foundational to all other goals we seek to accomplish in education, job growth and public safety,” Lee said in a release. “By prioritizing our mental health safety net and suicide prevention, we are caring for more Tennesseans and building healthier communities.”

The first initiative is a proposed $11.2 million in new funding to expand access to services for those with serious mental illness. It would cover an additional 7,000 uninsured Tennesseans through the state’s Behavioral Health Safety Net program.

A second initiative proposes $3 million for the Creating Homes Initiative, a program which has since 2000 created more than 20,000 housing opportunities for those with mental illnesses.

A final initiative proposes $1.1 million to expand the state’s partnership with the Tennessee Prevention Network. They would work together to establish a new regional outreach model and increase the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services' efforts to focus on intervention.

-Daily Memphian Staff

Tech901 receives First Tennessee Foundation grant

Tech901, a computer training school at Crosstown Concourse that provides its students with essential IT and soft-skill training, announced Tuesday it has received a $10,000 grant from the First Tennessee Foundation.

The grant will support Tech901’s planned information technology job training expansion in 2019 to meet local workforce shortages while offering its adult students rewarding career opportunities, according to a release.

In addition to the grant, First Tennessee Bank provided laptop computers, servers and networking equipment to expand Tech901’s teaching data center lab.

“Rapid changes in technology pressure all organizations to build their workforce to meet customers’ demands,” Bruce A. Livesay, Executive Vice President & Chief Information Officer at First Horizon National Corporation, said in a release. “We are beginning to see alternative certification programs, like Tech901, fill the workforce gaps while helping unemployed or underemployed Memphians improve their lives.”

Tech901 delivered 350 affordable student-courses in 2018. The First Tennessee Foundation grant will provide critical support toward planned 2019 capacity of over 500 trainings.

“With First Tennessee Foundation’s support, we are able to offer more students certification preparation with applicable work skills for a growing job base of IT infrastructure jobs,” Robert Montague, Executive Director at Tech901, said in a release. “The instruction and in-class experience are invaluable to Tech901’s graduates and their ability to provide immediate value to address the pressing workforce needs, and to earn on average nearly a doubling in pay from their previous employment.”

Tech901’s courses are offered with fees of only $100 or $250 providing equitable opportunities to all who qualify independent of resources thanks to First Tennessee Foundation’s and other organizational backing for the students.

-Natalie Martin

AutoZone posts 2019 second quarter earnings

Memphis-based AutoZone Inc. posted $2.5 billion in net sales Tuesday for its second quarter that ended Feb. 9, 2019, a 1.6 percent increase from the 2018 second quarter.

Net income for the quarter increased 1.8 percent over the same period last year to $294.6 million, while diluted earnings per share increased 10.7 percent to $11.49 per share, up from $10.38 per share in 2018 quarter. 

For the quarter, gross profit was 54.1 percent, up from 52.9 percent from the same period last year, while operating expenses, as a percentage of sales, were 37.7 percent versus 44.4 percent the same period last year.  

AutoZone also repurchased 422,000 shares of stock during the second quarter at a cost of $350 million, at an average price of $830 per share. The company also had $635 million remaining under its current share repurchase authorization at the end of the quarter.

“I want to thank and congratulate all AutoZoners across the company for their tremendous efforts during our second fiscal quarter,” Bill Rhodes, chairman, president and CEO of AutoZone, said in a release. “Their continued hard work and dedication to providing superior service again resulted in strong quarterly results.” 

During the 2019 second quarter, AutoZone opened 20 new stores in the United States, one in Mexico and two in Brazil, and as of Feb. 9, 2019, the company had 5,651 stores in the U.S., the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, 568 stores in Mexico and 22 stores in Brazil for a total count of 6,241.

-Natalie Martin 

MSCAA to host public meeting on drones

The Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority (MSCAA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Unmanned Aerial Systems Integration Pilot Program will host a public meeting Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 6 p.m. in the Shelby Ballroom at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn.

The public meeting will feature a question-and-answer session with airport partners as well as a presentation about the unmanned aerial systems program. Representatives from MSCAA, the Federal Aviation Administration, FedEx, GE, the city of Memphis, Memphis Fire Department, Memphis Police Department and 901Drones will be on hand to address public questions.

Those agencies and businesses are partners in drone testing around Memphis International Airport, one of 10 sites nationally chosen to participate in testing for the unmanned program.

-Natalie Martin

Carvana files permit for Memphis auto 'vending machine'

Carvana is moving forward with an auto “vending machine” in Memphis.

The online used-car retailer filed a $500,000 building permit application Feb. 19 to lay the foundation for its dealership at 7201 Appling Farms Parkway, north of Interstate 40.

The plan calls for a 5,800-square-foot sales building and 71-foot-tall, glass-enclosed vending machine fulfillment center where customers can pick up cars they buy from Carvana’s 15,000-vehicle online inventory.

The Land Use Control Board in August granted the company’s request to increase the maximum building height in the area from 44 feet to 75 feet and allow it to install nine signs, which exceeds the number allowed in the Unified Development Code.

A staff report from the Office of Planning and Development noted Carvana’s design delivers a “less intensive use” and takes up a much smaller footprint than traditional car dealerships. Carvana’s project site covers a little more than 2.5 acres of a 6.1-acre parcel owned by Belz Investment Co. on the south side of Appling Farms between Great American Home Store and Main Event Entertainment.

Founded in 2012, Phoenix, Arizona-based Carvana now has car vending machines in 17 markets, including Nashville. The publicly traded company also offers delivery to areas where it doesn’t have a vending machine.

-Kate Crawford

South Memphis honored for health initiatives

South Memphis has become the first Tennessee neighborhood to gain gold status under the Governor's Foundation for Health and Wellness initiative to encourage healthy living.

The community won the designation as part of the organization's gala recently in Franklin, Tennessee.

The initiative allows participating counties, cities, towns, neighborhoods and college campuses to promote healthy living by establishing wellness committees and developing sustainable events that support physical activity, healthy eating and tobacco abstinence.

The Governor's Foundation for Health and Wellness is a nonprofit corporation based in Nashville. For more information, visit the organization's website.

-Daily Memphian Staff

Air Canada to add larger planes for Memphis-Toronto route

Air Canada is increasing the size of planes that will carry passengers to and from Memphis International Airport to Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ).

Beginning May 1, all Air Canada flights between MEM and YYZ will utilize 76-seat Embraer E75 aircraft, according to a release from the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, replacing 50-seat Bombardier CRJ200 planes used for the route.

The aircraft will feature a choice of Business Class, seat-back in-flight entertainment and Wi-fi options.

“Passenger demand between Memphis and Toronto continues to be strong,” said Pace Cooper, chairman of the Airport Authority board, said in the release. “It’s great to see Air Canada meeting this demand with larger aircraft providing more onboard amenities for travelers.”

Air Canada said the move is in response to the increase in travelers from Memphis “either to visit Canada or connect conveniently onward from Toronto through our extensive global network,” said Lisa Pierce, senior director, U.S.A. Sales and Market Development for Air Canada.

Air Canada began operations at MEM in May 2017, offering nonstop service between Toronto and Memphis that doubles as a one-stop gateway to more than 160 Canadian and other international destinations.

-Daily Memphian Staff


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