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TDN Online (from the inside)

Hi. Kate here.

I’m The Daily News’ social media specialist, which means I sit at a desk surfing Twitter while TDN’s reporters and usual bloggers – Andy, Sarah, Bill and Aisling – are out covering Memphis’ business, government and community news.

I usually leave the blogging to them, but I’m popping by for a moment to mention what’s going on in The Daily News’ digital realm.

Traffic on Facebook and Twitter (here, here and here) has grown tremendously in the past year. You’re reading the blog right now. And The Daily News Online, www.memphisdailynews.com, is always evolving to bring you dynamic news, profiles and access to more than 13 million public records …

… Oh, and did I mention all our editorial content is free?

Industry leaders are taking notice. Editor & Publisher, the newspaper industry’s key trade publication, awarded TDN’s website two honorable mentions in the annual EPPY Awards, an international competition that recognizes the best media-affiliated websites. Also, the Tennessee Press Association awarded the site first place for Best Website in its division.

It was particularly special to garner those awards in 2011, The Daily News’ 125th birthday. It’s a little reminder of how much we’ve stayed true to our roots – providing public records and notices to Memphis’ business community – while expanding into so much more.

But we’re not resting on our laurels. Keep an eye on memphisdailynews.com for new features, including a videos section and more information on upcoming Daily News seminars and events. And, of course, we’ll continue to bring you Memphis’ best business, government and community news coverage.

Because Andy, Sarah, Bill and Aisling are out in the field, doing their thing.

While I’m here surfing Twitter. … Which is where I’m headed now.

/ks

On the EDGE of glory

The Memphis-Shelby County Economic Development Growth Engine, a still relatively new economic development agency, was formed with a big push by the city and county mayors to streamline economic development and simply a lot of the processes therein.

Wednesday afternoon’s two-hour meeting, though, showed the board is not there yet in terms of the streamlined simplicity envisioned.

One clear example: When longtime Depot Redevelopment Corp. president Jim Covington recapped for the board his search for insurance coverage for the entity, he was only able to present one policy. The other providers he approached looked at EDGE, scratched their heads and decided the structure was too complicated to insure.

Then there’s the fact that two “pre-meetings” were held Wednesday before the EDGE board itself was able to meet. EDGE is supposed to eventually swallow a variety of local boards and agencies, but until it does, some of them are still meeting and conducting business – albeit with EDGE board members.

Make sense?

So, first up Wednesday was a group of people meeting as the local Depot Redevelopment Corp. Fifteen minutes later, without getting up, that same group of people convened, but this time as the Industrial Development Board.

Another 15 minutes or so later, that same group of people convened as the EDGE board.

“It’s taken us 20 minutes to get to the real meeting,” EDGE chairman Al Bright lamented at the start of the “third” meeting.

Among the matters discussed during the EDGE meeting: EDGE president Reid Dulberger talked about his plans to hire staff and find office space.

100 Day Plan Clues

Few clues emerging these days about what Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. plans to roll out Jan. 23 when he makes his state of the city presentation.

Wharton is promising a “100-day” plan of items he hopes to accomplish in short order that will put his long-range plan for the city on track for at least the rest of his four-year term. Some of the goals will be ambitious enough that Wharton has said they probably won’t be completed while he is in office.

But clues about those items have been few and far between.

One came at the Tuesday evening Memphis City Council session as the council worked its way through approving his set of division directors for the new term of office.

When the council got to Public Works division director Dwan Gilliom, several mentioned he will soon have some new duties added to his job which includes operation and maintenance of the city’s infrastructure and solid waste collection and disposal as well as wastewater treatment.

Wharton is now dividing up the tasks that had been assigned to the soon to be abolished but still being investigated Community Enhancement division and trying to put grass cutting and other property maintenance duties in one division. Now those duties are spread across divisions which city Chief Administrative Officer George Little said is something that evolved over the years and is no longer the most efficient way of handling those matters.

So, that’s one guess on what could be coming Gilliom’s way.

Another is Wharton’s return several times to the idea of setting up some sanitation workers into private businesses where they contract with the city for sanitation services – a task that would require a lot of coordination and would have to overcome some very vocal opposition on the council to anything that even remotely feels like privatization.

Gilliom has also been a vocal advocate of the so-far incremental movement of city sanitation services to a system where a citizen pays based on the amount of waste he or she generates. And Gilliom wants to increase the city’s recycling efforts but is hampered by a fleet of aging vehicles

Those are the chief suspects for now.

Stay tuned between now and Jan. 23.

 

Shelby County Chosen for National Healthy Worksite Initiative

Shelby County has been selected as one of seven sites to participate in the National Healthy Worksite Initiative, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced.

Fifteen local employers will be selected to participate in a two-year program to implement a comprehensive workplace wellness initiative, which will provide program, policy and environmental support in the areas of physical activity, nutrition and tobacco use.

The program is aimed at small to medium-sized business and will include employers with 100 or less employees, 101-250 employees, and 251-1,000 employees.

Applications to participate in the program will be accepted between January 20 and February 24, and Memphis Business Group on Health (MBGH) has agreed to help identify interested employers.

MBGH is a coalition of the area’s largest employers – including FedEx, Smith & Nephew and the City of Memphis – working to maximize the cost and quality of health care benefits, and encouraging companies to take an active role in employee wellness and consider creative benefit design and delivery models as a means of curtailing costs.

Employers interested in participating can learn more by visiting the MBGH blog.

Moody’s puts Raymond James on negative watch – because of Morgan Keegan deal

Moody’s Investors Service has put the ratings of St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Raymond James Financial Inc. under review for a possible downgrade.

The reason is Raymond James’ announcement that it’s signed a deal to acquire Memphis-based Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. from Regions Financial Corp. That $930 million deal was announced earlier this month and caps a more than six-month search by Regions for a buyer for its investment banking unit.

Moody’s said “the acquisition of Morgan Keegan will result in Raymond James having an increased debt burden and higher cash flow leverage – a departure from the firm’s historic financial profile. This action also reflects Moody’s concern that Raymond James has substantial execution risk in retaining financial advisors from Morgan Keegan’s private client franchise and the accompanying revenues generated by its producers.”

While the Morgan Keegan-Regions announcement included word that Regions is indemnifying Raymond James against all pre-closing activities, Moody’s went on to say it will “also examine to what extent Raymond James will be adequately protected against Morgan Keegan’s pre-closing litigation claims that may arise going forward (e.g. RMK Funds, ARS matters). Moody’s noted that it will also focus on understanding Raymond James’ strategy for the proposed combined capital market businesses and whether Raymond James will maintain its current agency-based focus.”

Dansette

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