Daily Briefs

By Updated: March 07, 2019 5:05 PM CT | Published: March 06, 2019 2:41 PM CT
  • Sticky problem
  • Home sales rise in February
  • Nine Memphis women to be honored at Women of Achievement awards
  • Harris appoints Juvenile Court Attorney Panel coordinator 
  • AgLaunch Initiative earns $50,000 award for work at Agricenter
  • Applications open for Summer of Acceleration
  • First Tennessee partners with BrightBridge on capital access

Sticky problem

Things can get sticky working in the dark.

Which is what a transport operator discovered last week as molasses was being pumped from a barge to trucks at a Memphis port.

“The transport operator visually monitors the molasses level in the tanker truck, while the offloading occurs,” states a storm water spill report submitted by American Yeast Corporation to a water resources manager with Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

The worker had a two-way radio to inform the barge operator when the truck tanker was full and to stop the pumping.

Trouble was, it was about 6 p.m. Nearly dark as molasses.

The truck driver "did not have enough light to see and misjudged the level of molasses in the tanker truck,” the report states.

“When molasses overtopped the tanker, the transport operator immediately notified the (American Yeast Corp.) operator to radio the barge to stop pumping.”

The good news: American Yeast put covers over nearby storm drains to prevent the spill from entering the storm water system. And, the company immediately called an environmental clean-up firm to absorb and pressure-wash the spill.

The bad news: The next day, molasses residue was found in two storm drains where the off-loading occurred, A B Mauri Fleischmann’s at 2743 Riverport Road on the south side of Memphis. It was unknown if the “molasses wash water” proceeded off site.

More good news: Only about 20 gallons was spilled, the company estimated.

And future developments: American Yeast does not anticipate offloading barges at Fleischmann’s in the future because it is building a barge dock at its own facility 10 miles away at 251 Stiles on the north side of Memphis.   

-Tom Bailey

Home sales rise in February

February home sales in the Memphis area rose 3.4 percent from a year ago, according to the Memphis Area Association of Realtors.

Last month, 1,252 sales were recorded in the MAARdata property records database.

The average sales price rose even more, 7.6 percent, compared to February 2018. The average sales price last month was $171,757.

The relatively small number of homes for sale has been a defining force in real estate for Memphis and across the U.S. over the past few years. Inventory rose by 4.3 percent in February, to 3,786 units. Before the Great Recession hit a decade ago, the Memphis area had nearly 14,000 homes for sale.

Still, the 2019 year-to-date sales volume has risen 2.3 percent, to $419.3 million, compared to 2018, MAAR reported on Thursday.

“All the numbers were up across the board,” MAAR president Lee McWaters said in a prepared statement. “That’s really encouraging given that the spring selling season hasn’t even started yet.”                                                               

-Tom Bailey

Nine Memphis women to be honored at Women of Achievement awards

Nine Memphis and Shelby County women will be honored for changemaking leadership at the 35th annual Women of Achievement awards on March 24 at 3:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn University of Memphis.

The ceremony will be hosted by WMC News anchor Kontji Anthony, and will have a 3 p.m. reception. In addition to the ceremony, a new Memphis Women’s History Trail will be unveiled featuring a printed guide, online historic content and a mobile app organized by Women of Achievement historians, according to a release.

The Women of Achievement honorees for 2019 are:

  • Courage, Mildred Richard-Edwards, HIV/AIDS advocate
  • Determination, Rachel Coats Greer, Binghamton community advocate, and Mary E. Mitchell, Orange Mound community advocate
  • Heroism, Gabriela Salinas, cancer survivor, scientist, legislative candidate
  • Heritage, Estelle Axton, co-founder STAX recording studio, and Cornelia Crenshaw, civil rights activist
  • Initiative, Maxine Starling Strawder, dancer, Project: Motion
  • Steadfastness, Dr. Jane Hooker, women’s sports advocate
  • Vision, Dr. Carol Danehower, domestic violence researcher and educator

Nominations for the awards come from across the community, and since the first celebration in 1985, 248 individual women plus the Yellow Fever martyrs and local suffragists have been honored.

Admission to the awards ceremony is $35, and should be paid in advance through Eventbrite, or by checks mailed to 2574 Sam Cooper Blvd., Memphis 38112. Names of persons who will attend must be included.

A $60 donation can also be made that includes the awards event, membership for Women of Achievement for 2020, and inclusion in selection of 2020 honorees and other Women of Achievement gatherings.

-Natalie Martin

Harris appoints Juvenile Court Attorney Panel coordinator

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris has appointed Dorothy Miller as the Juvenile Court Attorney Panel coordinator.

Miller has more than 15 years of experience in Juvenile Court and family law matters and has an extensive background in managing cases impacting children and families, both in private practice and as an attorney on the Juvenile Defense Pane, according to a release.

“The appointment of Dorothy Miller helps resolve the issue of the panel attorney structure which was strongly challenged by the DOJ’s former Court Monitor’s report,” Harris said in a release. “It’s important to keep in mind that everyone involved in this journey, the Sheriff, the Juvenile Court Judge, the County Attorney and our Office take these reports and issues very seriously. We have read the reports thoroughly, discussed the identified matters at length, and we’re moving together to remedy concerns like this one.”

“I am looking forward to this opportunity and being a part of continuing this important work,” Miller said in a release. “The children of Shelby County deserve our best efforts and an ongoing commitment to service to help them meet the challenges that some of them face in their everyday lives.”   

Miller is expected to begin her role as Juvenile Court Attorney Panel coordinator March 15.

-Natalie Martin

AgLaunch Initiative earns $50,000 award for work at Agricenter

Memphis-based nonprofit AgLaunch Initiative has received a $50,000 award from the Wells Fargo Foundation as part of the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2), a technology incubator and platform co-administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center also is a partner in IN2.

AgLaunch Initiative received the IN2 Channel Partner Award for its efforts to advance sustainable technology solutions that can improve efficiency in agriculture and is one of just 13 organizations nationally to receive the award this year.

Launched in 2014, IN2 is a $30 million program that facilitates the commercialization and adoption of clean energy technologies in commercial buildings and in the agriculture sector. IN2 created a network of “Channel Partners” – a nationwide system of incubators, accelerators and university programs that refer startup companies to the program.

The Channel Partner Awards Program will disburse $1 million in competitive grants across the 13 recipient organizations to help advance sustainable technology solutions that can spur new collaborations, capital flow and job creation.

The AgLaunch award will be used to develop a “digital acre” platform at Agricenter International to provide baseline data and visibility to students and stakeholders and will serve as the hub for the AgLaunch Farmer Network across the five-state Mid-South Delta region. It will help AgLaunch and Agricenter provide a higher level of support to agtech startup companies incubated through the Farmer Network and create additional collaborations with the Danforth Center.

The work will be highlighted through a series of farm-based field days.

“We are excited to partner with IN2, NREL and the Danforth Center to enhance the capabilities of our farm-centric innovation model,” Pete Nelson, executive director of AgLaunch, said in a release. “Our network of farmers and inventive agtech entrepreneurs will see greater acceleration of their efforts because of this award.”

Since 2017, the IN2 Channel Partners Program has distributed approximately $2.1 million in competitive and noncompetitive grants in support of more than 74 events, meetings and training as well as 21 larger strategic initiatives between 23 organizations.

-Daily Memphian staff

Applications open for Summer of Acceleration

Start Co., Epicenter and the Memphis Bioworks Foundation's startup company accelerator collaboration is now accepting applications. The deadline is March 15. 

Programming will launch May 6 and culminate with Demo Day on Aug. 15, where startup teams will pitch their concepts to investors, share their insights and network. All teams will co-locate at Start Co. during the summer.

The fourth annual Summer of Acceleration includes hands-on, intensive education concentrated in four regional industries: “smart city,” medical device, supply chain and logistics and home services. Start Co. will provide centralized programming for core accelerator curriculum (like business models and customer discovery) and each accelerator will provide its cohort companies with industry-specific programming and connections to mentors and potential customers. The participating companies will also be connected, via Epicenter, to an angel investor community and executives-in-residence.

 The 2019 Summer of Acceleration accelerators are:

  • ServiceMaster and Start Co.’s Launch Delta Home Services Accelerator, for tech-based startups working to disrupt or replace existing home services technologies.
  • City of Memphis information services team and Innovate Memphis’ Sky High Civic Technology Accelerator, for civic and smart city tech-based startups to solve problems and create efficiency in transportation, crime and public safety.  
  • Start Co. and Epicenter’s Sparkgap Logistics Accelerator, for startups providing logistics solutions in intelligent packaging, supply chain visibility and supply chain data analytics.
  • Memphis Bioworks Foundation‘s ZeroTo510 Medical Device Accelerator, for startups developing and commercializing medical device innovations. 

Female founders can also opt for Start Co.’s parallel Upstart track, which provides networking and mentorship opportunities.

-Elle Perry

First Tennessee partners with BrightBridge on capital access

First Tennessee Bank will invest $500,000 to provide access to capital for startups and small businesses.

The company has partnered with Chattanooga-based BrightBridge Inc., whose mission is to reduce barriers to business growth by customizing loan packages and advisory services. BrightBridge’s goal is to increase employment opportunities and foster the expansion of business and industry in Tennessee and surrounding states.

“BrightBridge aims to accelerate startup and business growth,” BrightBridge chief operating officer Bill Pollard said in a release. “The $500,000 commitment from First Tennessee will open even more doors for startup and small businesses in the region. First Tennessee understands and values the opportunities small business provides to our communities. Their investment allows us to do the work that will have long-term, positive impacts in our community.” 

First Tennessee’s investment is part of its Community Benefits Plan to broaden access to financial resources and strengthen economic development in communities in its footprint.

“At First Tennessee Bank, we know access to capital can expand small businesses and drive innovation,” said Jay Dale, First Tennessee Chattanooga market president. “Our partnership with BrightBridge helps entrepreneurs overcome some of the barriers of traditional financing.”

The goals of the partnership include:

  • Closing commercial lending gaps
  • Building strong partnerships with lenders and peer organizations
  • Fostering community understanding and engagement
  • Creating measurable impact
  • Supporting environmental sustainability

Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp. is the parent company of First Tennessee Bank and Capital Bank.  

-Daily Memphian staff


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