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ZeroTo510

Four of the six companies that were part of the inaugural cohort of the ZeroTo510 accelerator program have been chosen to go on to the second phase of the program.

They’re getting an additional round of funding totaling $100,000 each. And one company has been chosen for a full round of venture funding.

The four companies selected for additional funding are:

::BioNanovations, which has developed a device that uses bionanotechnology for rapid diagnosis of bacterial infection.
::EcoSurg, which has developed an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional foam patient positioners used in surgeries.
::Nanophthalmics, which has developed, through the use of nanotechnology, a surgical device to more effectively treat corneal abrasions.
::and Urova Medical, which has developed a minimally invasive treatment to address feminine stress urinary incontinence.

An additional company – Restore Medical Solutions, which has developed a modular surgical tray and method for the reprocessing of sterile surgical instruments – received a term sheet to advance to a Series A round of venture capital funding. It will be co-led by Innova Memphis and MB Venture Partners.

‘Memphis Rocks’

In Friday’s edition of The Daily News, I wrote about a campaign to foster a bit of civic pride that’s being spearheaded by the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club. Click the screenshot image below to see a 30-second TV commercial for the campaign:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nashville & Electronic Poll Books

 

It turns out Shelby County isn’t the only county in the state with election problems lingering from the Aug. 2 balloting.

Nashville-Davidson County has a problem with electronic poll books that led to some voters there getting the right district races but the wrong primary ballots.

Davidson County Elections Administrator Albert Tieche has acknowledged, according to The Tennessean newspaper, that the poll books, which were used at some but not all election day polling places had a default setting. The setting pulled up the Republican primary ballot if polling place workers didn’t act to indicate the voter wanted to vote in the Democratic primary.

Democratic leaders in the both houses of the Tennessee legislature, including State Senate Democratic leader Jim Kyle of Memphis, sent a letter to Secretary of State Tre Hargett and state elections coordinator Mark Goins asking the state not to certify the August primary election results which have already been certified by the Davidson County Election Commission. The state process involves a basic formal announcement of who the nominees from both parties are for the Nov. 6 ballot.

The Democratic legislative leaders contend the poll book default caused a leap in turnout in the August Republican primaries for state legislative and Congressional seats in Davidson County from 6,439 four years ago to 19,714 Republican primary voters earlier this month.

“It doesn’t even pass the laugh test,” the letter from the Democratic leaders reads. “It certainly occurs to us and to most reasonable people that the increase could be due to the use of the new machines that default to the Republican primary.”

Tieche has told The Tennessean that he learned of the default setting on election day but couldn’t fix it because the vote was underway. Since then, he said the default setting has been changed.

The poll books are still new technology for Davidson County election officials. They only use them in 60 of the county’s 160 precincts.

The Shelby County Election Commission had a different poll book problem in the 2010 elections that drew complaints from Democrats and Republicans. A list from a previous election of those who had voted early in that election was mistakenly loaded into the poll books. The result was voters showing up on election day who were told they had already voted the ballot during the early voting period when they had not.

The mistake led to a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe and a conclusion that the error was not intentional.

Back to Nashville, the Democratic legislative leaders made a brief reference to Shelby County in their call for an investigation there.

“Frankly, this whole affair is an outrage,” they wrote. “We have read in the press that the same machines being utilized in Shelby County do not default to any party. Why do they default in Davidson County, but not in Shelby County? Who made this decision?”

Meanwhile, political leaders in Shelby County are awaiting the state comptroller’s audit of Shelby County election results following different problems that led to more than 1,000 voters, by one estimate, getting the wrong district races on their Aug. 2 ballots because of redrawn district lines from the once-a-decade redistricting process that weren’t reflected in the Shelby County voter database.

Two lawsuits have been filed in Shelby County Chancery Court challenging the results in specific races.

 

 

Commercial Appeal Cuts at Least 17 Employees

The Commercial Appeal is planning another round of layoffs.

In an email to members Tuesday, Aug. 28, Memphis Newspaper Guild president Wayne Risher announced that The Commercial Appeal is eliminating 17 guild-covered jobs as part of a “planned reduction in force.”

The jobs include 15 positions in the circulation customer service department and two in advertising. The employees will be paid through Sept. 7 and remain under company health insurance through the end of September.

“The company says the reductions are part of an effort to standardize operations across all Scripps newspaper properties,” wrote Risher, a 29-year reporter at The Commercial Appeal, Cincinnati-based The E.W. Scripps Co.’s largest circulation newspaper.

The letter said the circulation work had been outsourced as of 11 a.m. Monday to Circseller, a customer service call center outsourcing business. The advertising work will be outsourced to a company in India. Both firms have worked with The Commercial Appeal in the past.

The layoffs come after nine guild-covered employees (and allegedly several non-guild members) lost their jobs in December. In June, Scripps named George H. Cogswell III as the new publisher of The Commercial Appeal, a week after his predecessor Joe Pepe left the company.

The Memphis Newspaper Guild is a 75-year-old labor union that represents The Commercial Appeal journalists, as well as employees in departments ranging from advertising to accounting and maintenance. The guild is an affiliate of Communications Workers of America.

“It’s only because of the Newspaper Guild that the Commercial Appeal is a decent place to work; the stronger the Guild, the better the workplace will be,” Risher explains on the group’s representative page. “Take away the Guild and it would be a terrible place to work.”

Here is the letter in its entirety:

August 28, 2012

Dear Memphis Newspaper Guild members,

The Guild received details this morning on a planned reduction in force by The Commercial Appeal.
Regrettably, the company is eliminating 17 guild-covered jobs.
These include 15 positions in the circulation customer service department and two in advertising.
The company planned to begin meeting with affected employees immediately.
They would be paid through Sept. 7 and remain under company health insurance through the end of September.
Human resources director Eunice Johnson and Warren Funk said the circulation work is being outsourced to Circseller, a customer service call center outsourcing business that has handled overflow calls for the CA in the past.
The advertising work is being outsourced to a company in India that has provided advertising design services in the past.
Because outsourcing is involved, affected employees will qualify for two weeks pay in their severance packages.
The company says the reductions are part of an effort to standardize operations across all Scripps newspaper properties.
The newspaper’s customer service calls were switched over to Circseller as of 11 a.m. Monday.
The company also said that the newspaper will no longer have circulation customer service personnel staffing the front desk at the main office at 495 Union. Instead, customers will find a telephone with an automated menu and can request to meet with someone face to face if they need to.
The company said the affected employees would have an opportunity to apply for two positions currently open: a full-time distribution coordinator and a part-time classified representative.
The Newspaper Guild is putting together a help session for the departing employees from 9:30-11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 1 at the guild office in the EmergeMemphis Building at 516 Tennessee Street in Downtown Memphis. We will have people speaking about coping with layoffs, job searching and networking and personal finance.
Anyone wanting more information, please feel free to call me at 901-481-1829.

Sincerely,

Wayne Risher
President
The Memphis Newspaper Guild

McNeeley’s Project Green Fork Gains Nat’l Attention

Memphis’ Margot McNeeley is on a roll and is gaining national praise.

The leading face of the city’s green restaurant scene was recently featured in The Washington Times for her work with Project Green Fork. She founded the nonprofit program in 2008 to contribute to a sustainable Mid-South by helping reduce environmental impacts, with a focus on strengthening homegrown restaurants.

She explained the six criteria that PGF-Certified restaurants have to meet in order to qualify, but cautions, “The last thing I wanted to do was cause these small restaurants to go broke trying to go green.” About 40 restaurants have been certified to date.

The nonprofit has “diverted” more than 3 million pounds of paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and aluminum, according to the report. And recycled more than 130,000 gallons of food waste.

The article also said McNeeley wants to:

  1. Work with the city of Memphis on adding additional recycling opportunities
  2. Possibly create a city-wide compost program
  3. Sign on more cities in the Memphis area
  4. Ultimately expand into other U.S. cities

“After numerous requests to help other cities with a similar start up program, this year we finalized a Restaurant Sustainability Toolkit so other communities could easily start their own program,” she said.

McNeeley’s plans to expand Project Green Fork are the latest in what’s been a banner 14 months or so for the organization.

In March, McNeeley was honored by nationally syndicated radio show eTown with its E-Chievement Award. And it was just last fall that Project Green Fork expanded its outreach into Mississippi to include two restaurants in the Hernando area: Lady Bugg Bakery and Buon Cibo.

Dansette

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