Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Business briefs: Movie Gallery to cut 225 La Vergne jobs

Some 225 workers for a La Vergne distribution facility for Movie Gallery US LLC will be laid off on July 9, according to a state labor report.
Movie Gallery, the owner of rental chain Hollywood Video, is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy and last month announced it plans to close its remaining stores, including about 10 in the Nashville area.

The distribution facility is one of the top 10 employers in La Vergne, said Holly Sears, vice president of economic development at the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce.

"It's a lot of jobs," Sears said. "We have several companies in the pipeline, and we hope to be able to offset those job losses."

It is unclear when the distribution facility will shut down, she said. Calls to Wilsonville, Ore.-based Movie Gallery's corporate headquarters were not returned on Monday. The No. 2 rental chain behind Blockbuster Inc. has struggled as consumers more than ever get their movies through the mail, at vending machines or across high-speed Internet connections.


Capella Healthcare raises $500 million

Capella Healthcare said it completed raising $500 million through selling bonds due in 2017 and received a $100 million credit line from its lenders. The move gives the Franklin-based hospital operator more flexibility to pursue a growth strategy that could include expanding existing hospitals and possible acquisitions, CEO Dan Slipkovich said.


BioMimetic bone graft data accepted

BioMimetic Therapeutics Inc. said the Food & Drug Administration has accepted its submission of clinical trial data for its Augment bone graft and is reviewing the information for potential approval. The Franklin-based medical device maker said that it hopes to receive approval for the product for use in foot and ankle fusions by early next year.


Jones Lang LaSalle, Other Companies Add Solar to Service and Product LinesLKQ Corp. to expand Nashville facility, add 230 jobs

Consumer caution may fuel debate over stimulus, deficits

WASHINGTON — A tepid gain in consumer spending last month could fuel a debate over whether the United States and other governments should further stimulate their economies to sustain the recovery.
A report that Americans spent cautiously in May came after world leaders meeting in Toronto over the weekend pledged to reduce government deficits by cutting spending and raising taxes. They did so despite warnings from President Barack Obama that scaling back spending too fast could derail the global recovery.

U.S. lawmakers are wary of approving more stimulus spending in light of record-high budget deficits. As a result, millions of Americans could lose unemployment benefits and states could be forced to lay off tens of thousands of workers.

"In our view, it is way too early to apply the fiscal brakes," said Zach Pandl, an economist at Nomura Securities. Cutting off unemployment benefits "is a dangerous way to cut deficits when the economy is still fragile."

Economic growth, which leads to higher tax receipts and less spending on social programs, is the best way to reduce the deficit, Pandl said.

Other economists note that wages and salaries rose 0.5 percent in May, a second consecutive month of strong gains. That is a sign that the recovery can survive without government propping it up.

If the trend in income growth continues, "consumers' spending power will be bolstered, which will in turn drive economic growth, necessitating less government support," said Dan Greenhaus, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak.

Spending grows slightly

One thing is certain: Americans are being careful with their money. Consumer spending rose 0.2 percent last month after no change in April, the Commerce Department said Monday.

Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of economic activity. But the consumer hasn't been driving this recovery. Instead, it has depended more on business and government spending, along with exports. In the four quarters after the steep 1981-82 downturn, consumer spending rose by an average of 6.5 percent per quarter. By contrast, even as the economy has grown for the past three quarters, consumer spending rose an average of only 2.5 percent per quarter.

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Real Estate Outlook: Positive TrendsFederal Reserve keeps rates at record lows

Tesla Motors revs up for initial public offering

SAN FRANCISCO — As Tesla Motors, the Silicon Valley-based maker of sleek, high-performance electric cars, steers its highly anticipated public stock offering toward today's debut, hopes are running high that the company can plug into a rich vein of ready cash stretching from the West Coast all the way to Wall Street.
Tesla, whose top-end Roadster model sells for more than $100,000, was founded in 2003 by Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk and Chief Technical Officer J.B. Straubel. It has yet to turn a profit.

Nonetheless, the stock is likely to attract a cult following, said Scott Sweet, senior managing partner of IPO Boutique.

At a time when Detroit stalwart GM also is gearing for a return to the public markets, the unconventional Tesla is becoming the first American car maker to go public since Ford Motor Co. first brought its shares to the New York Stock Exchange in 1956.

Tesla is focusing on its clean-energy technology as a selling point, hoping to tap into growing consumer interest for hybrid vehicles in an era of higher oil prices.

And Sweet said there is, in fact, strong demand for Tesla shares. He said the Tesla IPO is "multiple times oversubscribed" at the retail and institutional levels, which suggests the deal could be priced at the high end of the planned $14-to-$16-a-share range.

On Monday, Tesla boosted the number of shares it plans to offer in the deal by 20 percent to 13.3 million shares, of which insider holdings will constitute 1.4 million shares.

In all, the deal could raise $244 million. Sweet surmises the stock could pop by 10 percent to 15 percent over the offer price in first-day trading. Tesla will trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol TSLA.

Handling the offering are Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Deutsche Bank Securities.

Immediately after the IPO, Tesla plans to sell $50 million in shares to Toyota Motor Corp. The electric-car maker recently agreed to buy Toyota's Fremont, Calif., manufacturing facility for $42 million.

Musk, 38, founded Tesla after helping launch PayPal, an electronic-payment system acquired by eBay Inc. in 2002, and Zip2 Corp., a provider of Internet enterprise software acquired by Compaq in 1999. He is expected to own 28 percent of Tesla stock after the IPO.

In recent years, there has been a shift in the IPO market to companies showing actual profits — versus mere potential — before selling shares to the public.

Tesla does not expect to make a quarterly profit until at least 2012. Through March 31, the company's net loss since inception approaches $300 million. It generated $147.6 million in revenue the last five years.

Logan’s Roadhouse parent company to go publicMortgage Rates at Lowest Level in Six Weeks

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Business bankruptcies

Allen Printing Co. Inc., Nashville
Estimated assets: $1 million to $10 million

Estimated liabilities: $1 million to $10 million

Ridings Law Office PC, Goodlettsville

Assets: $0

Liabilities: $914,096

Namesafe Inc., Goodlettsville

Assets: $0

Liabilities: $1.6 million


Cane Ridge Farms LLC, Murfreesboro

Estimated assets: $1 million to $10 million

Estimated liabilities: $1 million to $10 million

SOURCE: U.S. Bankruptcy Court

Nashville-area business bankruptciesForeclosure.com Offers Quality, Timely Education for Real Estate Agents, Brokers

Investors like style of ex-football star Alan Young

Former Vanderbilt football star Alan Young — a defensive lineman of the early 1990s — sells a different type of security these days.
After a brief stint in pro football, then a master's of business administration degree and later toiling as an investment banker, Young has turned his attention to manufacturing tough-as-nails doors, primarily for homes and apartments.

His security products — one is sold under the trademark "Door Jamb Armor" — are already in 225 Lowe's stores, and that's likely to double by this fall.

He just moved the company's headquarters from Saddle Brook, N.J., to Nashville to take advantage of lower operating costs here.

And, in the last few days, Young's company, Armor Concepts, won nearly $1 million in fresh seed capital from angel investors to help ramp up production, marketing and distribution of his do-it-yourself kits to reinforce doors with metal braces that guard against break-ins.

Young's six-year journey from the flash of a novel idea to actually selling security products nationwide illustrates several key lessons about how entrepreneurs can better their odds as they make a sales pitch for outside funds to expand.

How did Young win the trust of a half-dozen Nashville angel investors and improve his odds?

Here's what persuaded Crom Carmichael, who has helped fund startups as diverse as Vaco Staffing consultants and Flamedxx building products, to take part through the Nashville Capital Network.

Carmichael says financial angels like to put their money to work in ideas they understand, that have a great chance to grow (in business terms, they're "scalable") and that are difficult for bigger companies to mimic and steal away sales. He said Armor Concepts fits the whole bill.

Young is doing the right thing being the face of his company and making the world aware of his products through finely tuned marketing, Carmichael said. "A person can't buy something that they don't know exists," he said.

Carmichael also likes the fact that Young has a pair of third-party manufacturers (one in Middle Tennessee and one in New Jersey) to make the security kits, which allows Young to concentrate on sales.

Young isn't just trying to sell security kits to homeowners one door at a time. His bigger push is to sell through major distributors to large apartment owners and builders who might buy hundreds of kits each. He flew to New Orleans to make a sales pitch at the National Apartment Association convention this weekend, for instance.

"This year our sales are on track to grow by 300 percent; we have things that people need," Young said.

And the former All-Southeastern Conference defender was astute enough to master a tough lesson that not all entrepreneurs learn. He knew when to ask for help.

"I sought outside investors when I had exhausted my personal savings. I had taken this company as far as I could on my own. If you dream of becoming a national company, you need the capital to grow."

Randy McClain is business editor of The Tennessean. Reach him at 615-259-8882 or ramcclain@tennessean.com.

Nashville car salesman gets 51 months in prison for $2.7M fraudMortgage Rates at Lowest Level in Six Weeks

Nashville Real Estate Briefs: Real estate dispute leads to settlement

Washington Redskins defensive tackle and former Titans player Albert Haynesworth has plenty of people claiming he owes them money, from an ex-wife to an East Tennessee bank to, in the latest dispute, a Nashville engineering firm.
Nashville lawyer David Anthony settled two small-claims lawsuits last week against Haynesworth in Davidson County Circuit Court over about $50,000 in unpaid engineering expenses for subdivisions that were never built.

Roy Dale of Dale & Associates, the plaintiff, said the dispute involved surveying and engineering costs for a proposed townhome development in Madison called Crestview and a project called Old Hickory Corner, a mixed-use residential and retail project that was supposed to be built on 14 acres at Robinson Road and Industrial Drive in Old Hickory.

Haynesworth's attorneys could not be reached for comment.

The football star got a $21 million bonus in April on a $100 million contract.

Building permits trickle in

Summit Medical Center off Old Hickory Boulevard and Central Pike in Nashville is getting a 4,100-square-foot addition to the emergency room and interior renovations by Batten & Shaw Inc.

CJ Advertising, a marketing firm for personal injury lawyers, is rehabbing a building at 300 10th Ave. S. in Nashville for $1.3 million. The firm is currently located nearby in Cummins Station. DWC Construction will do the work.

The old Piedmont Natural Gas Co. building on Mainstream Drive is getting a $628,280 interior rehab by Hardcastle Construction Co. to make a new home for the state Department of General Services, which handles procurement and equipment management for state government. The department is consolidating locations and will move under one roof, with some employees moving in as early as September.

The Baker Donelson law firm offices at 211 Commerce St. downtown will get a $500,000 rehab from the Carter Group LLC.

More foreclosures

Regions Bank filed with the Davidson County Register of Deeds last week that it had bought back six West Nashville properties in foreclosure for $1.65 million owned by real estate firm Alliance Development LLC, many of them condos.

The properties were at: 2708 Tyne Blvd.; 4412-B Dakota Ave.; 3139 Long Blvd.; 2112 Acklen Ave., unit 208; and 2114 Acklen Ave., units 305 and 308.

Contact real estate reporter Naomi Snyder at 615-259-8284 or nsnyder@tennessean.com.

Nashville real estate updatesReal Estate Outlook: After the Credits

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mortgage shoppers stand to gain under new rules

CHICAGO — Nestled within the massive financial reform package that a House-Senate panel approved early Friday morning are consumer protections that could change the way people shop for a mortgage.
If Congress approves the bill as written and President Barack Obama signs it, the new law would hinder the return of no-documentation mortgages, and some mortgage fees would be limited. Also, a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would be charged with overseeing consumer lending, and one of its tasks would be to create new home-appraisal standards.

Consumer mortgage protections outlined in the bill are Congress' way of legislating common-sense underwriting and more borrower protection "to an industry that lost sight of it," said David Berenbaum, chief program officer for the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

Below are a few of the mortgage-related highlights of the bill as it stands.

DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED: It seems like ages ago that consumers could get a no-documentation mortgage, stating their income instead of providing proof of it. In today's mortgage market, much more documentation usually is required.

But this legislation would work to prevent the no-doc loan from returning if and when lending standards loosen up again.

"Banks have to find out how much money a consumer is making, as opposed to taking someone's word for it," said Pedro Morillas, consumer advocate for the California Public Interest Research Group. In the past, some borrowers got loans they probably shouldn't have by overstating their income and assets.

This measure amounts to creating a safeguard for the future. "It doesn't represent a change in today's marketplace," said Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH Associates, a publisher of consumer loan information, "but it addresses what could be a future relaxation of standards."

The bill doesn't ban no-documentation mortgages outright, but if lenders choose to make one, they will be subjected to certain risk-retention regulations, otherwise known as "having skin in the game," said John Courson, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association. That requirement also would probably increase consumers' mortgage costs, he said.

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Mortgage Rates Even Keel, Still at Record LowFreddie Mac seeks additional $10.6 billion in aid

Homeowners take flood fixes into own hands

Homeowners stuck with damaged homes from the early May flooding are taking matters into their own hands — literally.
With tens of thousands of dollars in damages, many homeowners are rebuilding their own homes, tile by tile and room by room.

As of Thursday, homeowners, not licensed contractors, had pulled more than 60 percent of the 2,440 building permits for flooded homes in Nashville. Some of those may end up hiring general contractors. But others are trying to save money in the face of limited government aid and no flood insurance by handling much of the work themselves.

Contractors and some city officials worry that all of the do-it-yourself projects will come back to hurt flood victims later. For instance, homeowners who take out their own permits assume all the responsibility and liability for the job, instead of putting that on a licensed and insured general contractor.

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"It's a big risk,'' said David Crane, president of Crane Builders, who said he has been consulted by about 40 flood victims recently seeking free advice on how to rebuild their homes themselves.

"You might close up walls and forget to kill the mold. You could skip a step or not insulate properly," Crane warned. All of these are among the factors that can cause delays and add to a homeowner's costs in the long run.

Robinson presses ahead

Some homeowners feel perfectly capable of cleaning up and rebuilding their own homes.

Will Robinson, a 57-year-old tool salesman who lives in Cottonwood Estates in Franklin, refers to a couple of huge post-it-notes stuck to his living room wall to keep track of progress as he rebuilds a flooded home.

The notes read: Obtain drywall, check. Run phone lines, check. Fix hearth, check.

Although he isn't a licensed electrician, Robinson did run some of the wiring under his own flooded house. He had experience doing electrical work while in college. He has also gotten the local building codes department to come out and check his work twice.

"I'm here from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. at night,'' Robinson said. "A general contractor is not going to do that. I don't stop for lunch. I've lost 20 pounds doing this. This is a flood diet."

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Transform Your Home with Home StagingFlooded homeowners face painful choice: rebuild or retreat

Apple offers iPhone 4 glitch advice

Apple Inc. responded to complaints about reception on its new iPhone 4 by telling customers they should hold the device differently.
"Gripping any mobile phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas," Apple said Friday in an e-mailed statement. "If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases."

The introduction on Thursday of the iPhone 4 was marred by criticism that signal strength diminishes when users cover the bottom-left corners with their palms. The iPhone has become Apple's top-selling product since its 2007 debut, accounting for 40 percent of sales last quarter.

Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs added a high-definition video camera, multitasking and video calling to the iPhone 4 to fend off competition from phones running Google Inc.'s Android operating system. It also has a stainless-steel band that's designed to improve network reception.

Customers have posted videos on the Internet demonstrating trouble with the iPhone 4's new antenna.

According to an e-mail exchange posted on the MacRumors.com website, Jobs called the matter a "non issue." Users expressed disappointment with the response.

"I'm an Apple person going back a long time and have spent a small fortune on Apple stuff over the last few years," said Patrick Coleman, 58, a senior systems administrator from Rockville, Md., who purchased two iPhone 4s. "It's really awful when Jobs has this kind of attitude."

Shaw Wu, an analyst at Kaufman Bros. LP in San Francisco, doesn't expect the antenna problem to lead to a product recall.

In general, reviews of the device have been positive, and Apple may sell more than 10 million iPhones in the quarter ending in September, said Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Partners in New York.

Another possible iPhone prototype pops upReal Estate Outlook: Up or Down?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Federal Reserve keeps rates at record lows

WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve struck a more cautious tone about the strength of the U.S. economic recovery, indicating Europe's debt crisis poses a risk to it.
Wrapping up a two-day meeting Wednesday, the Fed in a 9-1 decision retained its pledge to hold rates at record-low levels for an "extended period." Doing so is intended to energize the rebound.

The Fed expressed confidence that the recovery will stay intact despite threats from abroad and at home. But Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues offered a slightly more reserved outlook than the last time they convened.

The Fed said the economic recovery is "proceeding." That was a bit less upbeat than the view at the April meeting when the Fed said economic activity continued to "strengthen." The Fed also said the labor market is "improving gradually."

While not mentioning Europe by name, the Fed said "financial conditions have become less supportive of economic growth ... largely reflecting developments abroad."

The fragile economic picture increases pressure on President Barack Obama and lawmakers in Washington. Near-double-digit unemployment is certain to factor into the way Americans vote in congressional midterm elections this fall. If it fails to come down after that, the jobless rate could play a significant role in the 2012 presidential election.

At the same time, the president has limited options. Congress has run into opposition on extending unemployment benefits and providing more aid to cash-strapped states. While some liberal Democrats maintain that government spending is the best way to stimulate the economy, a growing number of moderate and conservative Democrats share Republican concerns that the government's exploding budget deficits pose a greater risk.

The subtle shift in the Fed's outlook drew little reaction from stock investors. The Dow Jones industrial average was essentially flat after the announcement.

One member dissents

The decision to keep rates at record lows boosted demand for safe-haven assets such as Treasurys, sending interest rates lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, a widely used benchmark for mortgages and other consumer loans, fell to 3.13 percent from 3.25 percent late Tuesday. The 10-year note hasn't closed at that level in more than a year. Rates had already fallen earlier in the day after the government said new-home sales dropped 33 percent last month.

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Real Estate Outlook: After the CreditsHome construction fails to lift recovery

LifePoint bid for Sumner hospital approved

LifePoint Hospitals Inc. received bankruptcy court approval for its offer to buy Sumner Regional Health Systems on Wednesday.
A decision on how sale proceeds are to be distributed will come later.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Marian F. Harrison of Nashville said at a hearing that LifePoint has the financial wherewithal to carry out the purchase, adding that it's in the best interest of creditors. Harrison dismissed several objections that had been made by Sumner County.

"The county's objection to LifePoint's abilities to perform its obligations is without merit," Harrison said.

RelatedBankruptcy judge to rule by Friday on Sumner Regional saleLifePoint nears deal for Sumner Regional Health SystemsLifePoint Hospitals remains sole bidder for Sumner RegionalArdent agrees to buy Ohio hospitalsLifePoint gets antitrust clearance for acquisition

Brentwood-based hospital chain LifePoint offered to buy the Gallatin-based hospital system for $156 million and an additional $60 million of capital spending.

Court approval was required under the agreement that came along with a bankruptcy filing from Sumner Regional.

Whether the county should be paid before or after bondholders for its interest in real estate of the hospital system's flagship, Sumner Regional Medical Center, was among the issues that the county raised.

Also argued in court were questions over who would offer medical care to county inmates, a function that Sumner Regional Medical Center had handled. Harrison acknowledged the issue had been in dispute but said the sale agreement doesn't require LifePoint to offer such care.

Still, LifePoint has agreed to assume services to inmates for the remainder of the year, while committing to provide 1 percent of annual net revenue of Sumner Regional Medical as charity or indigent care.

Approval needed for sale

"We look forward to the opportunity to talk to the county about meeting the ongoing needs of the community, including inmate care, and providing significant new tax revenues and other benefits to the County on a long-term basis," said Diane Huggins, a LifePoint spokeswoman.

The sale still requires approval from Tennessee's attorney general because it involves the acquisition of a not-for-profit entity by a for-profit hospital company.

Getahn Ward covers the business of health care for The Tennessean. He can be reached at 615-726-5968 or at gward@tennessean.com.
Sarah Kingsbury of Gannett Tennessee contributed to this story.

Short Sale NegotiatorsLifePoint Hospitals remains sole bidder for Sumner Regional

HCA plans to buy Miami hospital

HCA Inc. said it has a letter of intent to buy a money-losing Catholic nonprofit hospital in Miami, continuing the recent pick up in acquisition activity that involve Nashville area for-profit hospital chains.
Buying 473-bed Mercy Hospital would expand HCA’s presence in South Florida that includes operations in Kendall and Aventura in Miami-Dade County.

“The addition of Mercy…creates a corridor of care that enables us to better serve the community,” said Michael G. Joseph, the president of HCA’s East Florida division.

Mercy is expected to keep its name and Catholic identity under ownership of HCA. No abortions would be performed. Daily masses will continue at its chapel.

The deal comes as HCA prepares for an initial public offering that would mark its return as a publicly traded company. Other Nashville area hospital chains with acquisitions pending include LifePoint Hospitals and Vanguard Health Systems.

Mercy had a 2009 loss of $3.4 million on operating revenues of $205 million, The Miami Herald reported.

Financial terms of the HCA-Mercy deal weren’t disclosed, but it should close as soon as possible pending a definitive agreement and approvals from regulators. HCA’s East Florida unit has 12 hospitals.
Getahn Ward covers the business of health care. He can be reached at 615-726-5968 or at gward@tennessean.com.

Real Estate Outlook: After the CreditsArdent agrees to buy Ohio hospitals

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Geithner: Credit conditions won't stall economic recovery

WASHINGTON — Forceful government actions, including the $700 billion bank rescue fund, have created an environment where credit conditions are no longer an obstacle to a U.S. economic recovery, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Tuesday.
"Credit conditions overall, which dragged our economy into a deep recession in 2007, no longer pose an obstacle to growth," Geithner said in testimony before the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

"I don't think on the available evidence today you can say that the financial system itself is operating as a significant drag on the recovery," Geithner said.

Elizabeth Warren, who heads the panel, and Geithner remain at odds over the issue of credit.

Warren's watchdog panel had previously said that TARP might have stopped the global financial meltdown but hasn't lived up to its promise in terms of stimulating credit availability.

Warren said she was worried that "thousands of small banks could capsize" as a result of what she sees as a coming tidal wave of losses from the commercial real estate sector. About half of $1.4 trillion in commercial real estate loans will be underwater by the end of the year, she said.

Warren also said that six of the 19 biggest banks hold commercial real estate loans that exceed 100 percent of their Tier-1 capital — the benchmark for measuring a bank's capital adequacy. So-called stress tests of banks conducted by the government cover only losses through 2010, she noted.

The TARP fund, embroiled in controversy from the time it was created, is scheduled to expire at the end of this fiscal year, after which the government will seek to exit from remaining investments — notably in Citigroup, AIG and General Motors.

Geithner estimated that TARP would end up costing taxpayers $105 billion.

He indicated that the Obama administration had no plans for any new programs under TARP to help small or big banks grapple with losses from their commercial real estate loans.

Geithner also said in testimony that commercial real estate loans will continue to challenge banks.

However, bank losses are doing better than projected under the stress tests, he said.

A 'healthy adjustment'

In making the case that the availability of credit has improved, Geithner cited surveys that banks have finished tightening credit standards. He said the cost of small-business loans is lower than it was going into the crisis.

In addition Geithner said delinquencies for many loan categories appear to have peaked: The cost to insure against the risk of default of banks is less than half of what it was last March.

Declining loan balances at banks, Geithner said, reflect "a natural and healthy adjustment as borrowers and lenders de-leverage after a period of aggressive credit expansion."

By the same token, "it does mean that many consumers and businesses are still finding it difficult to get new credit."

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Business Briefs: Emdeon acquires Florida company

Emdeon Inc. has acquired Tampa, Fla.-based Chapin Revenue Cycle Management LLC for $18.9 million in cash and stock to expand its business of helping hospitals ensure that they get paid what they're entitled to from insurers.
The deal is the third acquisition this year for the Nashville-based provider of health-care payment and administrative systems.

"Most hospitals don't have the resources to go after underpayment, so this service allows them to supplement their existing staffs," said Tommy Lewis, Emdeon's senior vice president of corporate communications. If Chapin meets certain performance goals through 2012, its owners could get up to an additional $8.1 million in Emdeon stock.


Advanced BioHealing opens office

Advanced BioHealing Inc., a Westport, Conn.-based biotech firm, has opened an office in Brentwood as it expands research and development efforts. The company has leased 5,500 square feet of office space in the Overlook Building with plans to move a lab there from temporary space at the Cumberland Emerging Technologies Life Sciences Center in Nashville.

Advanced BioHealing, which focuses on regenerative medicine, expects to have about 10 Nashville-area employees by year-end. Its research includes additional uses for its lead product, the skin substitute Dermagraft.

Charles E. Hart, the former chief scientific officer at BioMimetic Therapeutics, now works with Advanced BioHealing.


Transform Your Home with Home StagingArdent agrees to buy Ohio hospitals

Entrepreneur finds fertile new niche

Seeking out a new niche after more than 25 years building and selling dialysis companies, health-care entrepreneur Joseph A. Cashia settled on the baby business.
With other former executives of his most recent company, National Renal Alliance, Cashia formed Vivere Health LLC to target the $4-billion-a-year U.S. fertility services market.

It's an area in which demand for services is driven by couples with fertility issues, some of whom may have delayed pregnancies to pursue their careers. And now husband and wife view in vitro fertilization — in which the egg is fertilized by sperm outside the woman's body — as one of their options.

Franklin-based Vivere's business model is similar to Cashia's former dialysis companies' in that both involve partnering with doctors.

Vivere bears most of the costs of building the surgery centers and labs, with physicians contributing a smaller share based on their ownership stakes. Profits from the surgery centers and labs are split between Vivere and the participating reproductive endocrinologists.

The goal is to capture the fees in-house so doctors won't have to pay for services at outside labs, hospitals or clinics.

"Our goal is to link the practice to the lab to the surgery center — to pull all three of the components together," Cashia said. He said Vivere also intends to help its joint venture partners recruit additional specialists as needed.

Vivere got its start through a partnership of Cashia and his financial backer, private equity firm LLR Partners LLC of Philadelphia, with two fertility specialists at the Houston Fertility Institute to buy the affiliated Piney Point Surgical Center and Houston Fertility Laboratory.

Expansion is planned

Last week, a reproductive endocrinologist who relocated to Austin opened a practice with Vivere's help. There are plans for a lab to open in August and outpatient surgical suites roughly a year later.

With his eye on expansion, Cashia initially hopes to tap into Houston fertility specialists Drs. Jimmy Gill and Gus Haddad's wealth of industry connections, their reputation for a strong success rate of fertilizations (in the top 10 nationally) and a patient-friendly approach.

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Entrepreneur finds fertile new nicheDon’t Forget the Moms When Selling Your Services, Products

Home sales take unexpected dip

WASHINGTON — The housing market may be on the verge of taking another plunge that could weaken the broader economic recovery.
Sales of previously occupied homes dipped in May, even though buyers could receive government tax credits. And nearly a third of sales in May were from foreclosures or other distressed properties. That means home prices could soon be heading down after stabilizing over the past year.

Last month's sales fell 2.2 percent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.66 million, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. Analysts who had expected sales to rise expressed concern that the real estate market could tumble once the benefit of the federal tax incentives is gone entirely, starting next month.

The report is "a worrisome sign for what will occur in July and thereafter when the effect of the tax credit is behind us," said Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at MFR Inc., an economic consulting firm in New York.

RelatedBorrowers abandon mortgage-modification programFed won't raise interest rates and risk rattling the recoveryHome construction fails to lift recoveryAmericans' net worth rebuilds slowly, unevenlyHome sales continue to riseHome foreclosure rate holds steady in May

Still, most economists don't expect the housing market to be weak enough to pull the economy back into recession. They anticipate that home sales will dip over the summer, then start growing by fall as the 9.7 percent unemployment rate begins to decline.

Existing home sales have climbed 25 percent from the 4.5 million annual rate they hit in January 2009 — the lowest level of the recession. But they're still down 22 percent from the peak rate of 7.25 million in September 2005.

The report counts home sales once a deal closes. So federal tax credits of up to $8,000 for first-time buyers and up to $6,500 for existing homeowners helped prop up sales in May. The deadline to get a signed sales contract and qualify was April 30. Buyers must close their purchases by June 30.

The tax credits were expected to lift sales in May and June.

Lawrence Yun, the Realtors chief economist, said delays in the mortgage-lending process put about 180,000 potential buyers in limbo. They are unlikely to qualify by the June 30 deadline. The trade group is pushing Congress to extend the deadline for closing a sale until Sept. 30.

Associated Press writer Alex Veiga in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Real Estate Outlook: After the CreditsHome construction fails to lift recovery

Sears, Kmart will sell downloadable movies

SAN FRANCISCO — Sears Holdings Corp., owner of the Sears and Kmart retail chains, will start an online store to compete with Apple Inc. and Best Buy Co. in selling downloads of movies and TV shows as Web-connected devices become more common.
The digital store will use an online service and technology operated by Sonic Solutions Inc., the companies said Tuesday in a statement. Sonic's RoxioNow system will be installed on televisions, computers, Blu-ray disc players, set-top boxes and mobile phones sold by the biggest U.S. department store chain.

With Sonic, the retailer will be able to offer a Sears-branded digital storefront and promote special programming and services across devices starting later this year. Best Buy already licenses Sonic software for the online movie store it operates, while Apple uses its own iTunes system.

"Teaming up with Sonic is a great opportunity for Sears and Kmart to quickly establish a position in digital video entertainment," Karen Austin, president of home electronics for Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Sears, said.

Sears joins a growing list of companies licensing Sonic technology, which lets users rent or buy films and TV shows for viewing on a number of products. Digital downloads are expected to eclipse packaged DVD and Blu-ray disc sales after 2015, said Bo Andersen, president of the Entertainment Merchants Association in Encino, Calif.

Jim Wright is Nashville Chamber’s Partnership 2010 co-chairmanDebt Management for Homeownership

Entrepreneur finds fertile new niche

Seeking out a new niche after more than 25 years building and selling dialysis companies, health-care entrepreneur Joseph A. Cashia settled on the baby business.
With other former executives of his most recent company, National Renal Alliance, Cashia formed Vivere Health LLC to target the $4-billion-a-year U.S. fertility services market.

It's an area in which demand for services is driven by couples with fertility issues, some of whom may have delayed pregnancies to pursue their careers. And now husband and wife view in vitro fertilization — in which the egg is fertilized by sperm outside the woman's body — as one of their options.

Franklin-based Vivere's business model is similar to Cashia's former dialysis companies' in that both involve partnering with doctors.

Vivere bears most of the costs of building the surgery centers and labs, with physicians contributing a smaller share based on their ownership stakes. Profits from the surgery centers and labs are split between Vivere and the participating reproductive endocrinologists.

The goal is to capture the fees in-house so doctors won't have to pay for services at outside labs, hospitals or clinics.

"Our goal is to link the practice to the lab to the surgery center — to pull all three of the components together," Cashia said. He said Vivere also intends to help its joint venture partners recruit additional specialists as needed.

Vivere got its start through a partnership of Cashia and his financial backer, private equity firm LLR Partners LLC of Philadelphia, with two fertility specialists at the Houston Fertility Institute to buy the affiliated Piney Point Surgical Center and Houston Fertility Laboratory.

Expansion is planned

Last week, a reproductive endocrinologist who relocated to Austin opened a practice with Vivere's help. There are plans for a lab to open in August and outpatient surgical suites roughly a year later.

With his eye on expansion, Cashia initially hopes to tap into Houston fertility specialists Drs. Jimmy Gill and Gus Haddad's wealth of industry connections, their reputation for a strong success rate of fertilizations (in the top 10 nationally) and a patient-friendly approach.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bonnaroo wants to be a lifestyle brand

Coming off its ninth year, the founders and producers of Bonnaroo know they've hit on a winning formula, but they're still working to improve the outdoor music festival held each June. It's already among the highest-grossing music festivals in North America.
In an interview with Tennessean business reporter Bonna Johnson, Rick Farman and Rich Goodstone, two of the four partners in Superfly Presents, which helped create Bonnaroo, said they plan to hold other types of events at their 700-acre field and concert hot spot in Manchester, Tenn.

The young music and marketing executives also say they hope to position Bonnaroo as a lifestyle brand that resonates with consumers long after the last band has left the stage.

What role does Superfly Presents play in putting on Bonnaroo?

RelatedPHOTOS: Highlights of Bonnaroo 2010

Farman: We're one of the co-creators of the event with AC Entertainment. We formulated the initial concept for the event and built the brand name. We oversee a wide range of areas: most of the operations, the profit centers like concession sales and VIP packages, as well as sponsorships, marketing, the website and general messaging.

How has the festival evolved?

Farman: On the operational side, a big part of the evolution has been building infrastructure on the property that we knew would improve the fans' experience — building a permanent main stage, having electricity throughout the site and having a roadway system. Those were things we didn't have at the beginning.

In doing things like that, we've been able to run things more efficiently and deal with adverse weather conditions. On the programming side, we evolved from initially being a roots, rock, jam band scene to becoming more of a great American rock festival with every type of music represented.

What do you envision in the coming years?

Farman: Bonnaroo as a physical event … we want to make it better, more efficient, easier and accessible to come to. We will achieve that by making capital improvement and investments.

The fact that we own it — we bought (the site) in 2007 — and put in infrastructure in 2008 and 2009, you've already seen investments being made. We'll continue to look at items such as bathroom facilities, RV-hookup facilities, different road configurations to ease traffic flow, drainage and landscaping.

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4G networks could be revolutionary

The first cell phone in the U.S. to use fourth-generation wireless technology — better known as 4G — debuted this month with the promise of super-fast download speeds, smooth video streams and even video chat. The phone came from Sprint Nextel Corp.; Verizon Wireless plans to launch its 4G network this year, with AT&T Inc. to follow in 2011.
But how revolutionary is 4G? Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin talks about how it could change mobile communication.

How much faster is 4G?

Most 3G subscribers today can expect about 1 megabit per second download speeds on average. 4G networks might deliver as fast as 6 or 7 megabits per second initially. Eventually, a 4G network hopes to be about 10 times faster than 3G.

Will 4G improve voice calls and texting?

The impact on traditional cellular services, such as voice and text messaging, will be negligible because 4G networks are being designed for data.

However, because of the specific airwaves that AT&T and Verizon will use for their 4G networks, consumers will find that these networks provide better service indoors than some of today's networks.

What will 4G enable us to do on our phones that we can't do with 3G?

One thing you'll be able to do is watch a high-definition video stream on services such as Hulu.

It also will be possible to take information from the Internet and interact with the real world in ways that maybe weren't dreamt of a few years ago.

For example, if you were traveling in a foreign country, you could hold up your phone and look at anything written in another language, and the phone would show it to you in real time as if it were written in your own language.

A car is going to be very much connected in the future. Many cars have navigation systems today, but many of those navigation systems are offline. But tomorrow, as 4G networks expand, that navigation system will be updated in real time with traffic information, changes in new roads or streets becoming one-way.

What should consumers know about the two 4G technologies — WiMax, which Sprint uses; and LTE, which Verizon and AT&T will use?

The vast majority of the next generation of networks will be built using LTE. For example, when you travel overseas — if you have service from an LTE network, it's more likely your device will work in 4G in other parts of the world.

Because the cell providers will be using different technologies, will some be faster than others?

I believe that Verizon's technology will be faster than Sprint's when Verizon launches. But because Sprint has more spectrum Sprint's customers may likely find that they get faster service than Verizon customers. AT&T will use the same technology as Verizon.

Is T-Mobile lagging behind?

Yes. T-Mobile has no concrete plans to build the next-generation network today.

Will there be increases in monthly plans and fees?

The only answer we have today, concretely, is Sprint's network. For example, Sprint just released its first 4G phone — the HTC Evo — and it is charging an additional $10-per-month service fee to use it on a 4G network.

Establishing a Lead TriadAT&T adds smartphone price options

Nashville rising stars: NEXT UP RACHEL BELL

Age: 32
Company/title: Bell & Kinslow PLLC, managing partner and owner; Pinnacle Title & Escrow LLC, chief operating officer and closing attorney

Background: Dad is in commercial real estate, and mom is principal at Cameron Middle School. Bell played college basketball at Auburn University and the University of Memphis, where she graduated from law school in 2004.

Career path: She initially hoped to be in-house counsel for a pro basketball team but now is a solo practitioner and recently added a partner. Her entrepreneurially minded father talked her into flying solo in business. "I feel like actually I've been given a greater opportunity to not only have a job that pays the bills but also to create jobs."

Professional mistake: At first, Bell opened up several offices within the first couple of years in business. "That was not very smart. It's very difficult to open a practice and not be able to oversee or manage it, and allow other people to try to complete your vision."

Background you might not know: She grew up with juvenile diabetes and was featured on ABC's World News Tonight for successfully managing it as a young athlete. She now sponsors two scholarships, one for high school seniors with diabetes and the other for Bordeaux residents. She has them write essays on her two favorite sayings, which she has trademarked: "Control the controllable" and "Be great, not perfect."

Hobbies: She still plays basketball occasionally but spends more time on the golf course. "It's an awesome game to network. You're able to spend that uninterrupted time with somebody and foster a good relationship. Basketball is more hustle and bustle getting up and down the court."

Establishing a Lead TriadBell construction widens its scope

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Home construction fails to lift recovery

WASHINGTON — Homebuilders are sending a message. They won't be able to contribute much to the economic recovery now that government home-buying incentives have vanished.
Home construction and applications for building permits sank in May, overshadowing favorable reports on manufacturing and wholesale inflation.

Fewer homes mean fewer jobs. Construction fuels a broad swath of industries across the economy. Yet double-digit unemployment is among the main reasons people have passed on buying new homes. Even with near-record-low mortgage rates, the industry is struggling.

"The economy is growing, and the housing market is still in recession," said Eugenio Aleman, senior economist with Wells Fargo Securities. "It's not going to contribute to growth, but it is not going to pull the economy back down."

Overall, new home and apartment construction fell 10 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 593,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. April's figure was revised downward to 659,000.

Applications for new building permits, a sign of future activity, sank 5.9 percent to an annual rate of 574,000. That was the lowest level in a year.

Builders are scaling back now that tax credits of up to $8,000 have expired. The biggest evidence of that trend: The number of new single-family homes tumbled 17 percent, the largest monthly drop since January 1991.

Steve Romeyn, managing partner of Windsong Properties in the Atlanta area, said the tax credits helped buyers sell their homes and move to his company's retirement communities.

Now that the tax credits are gone, "I think we're going to slip back and not be able to maintain the pace of the first half of the year," he said.

But some builders see opportunity in the down market. Andrew Zuckerman, CEO of Zuckerman Homes in Coconut Creek, Fla., said his company is purchasing land and plans to develop it as early as winter.

"We think now is a good time to buy," Zuckerman said. "We think the market is slowly stabilizing."

The poor report on housing came despite more promising reports on the economy. Inflation at the wholesale level remains tame, and industrial production rose for the third straight month.

Output at the nation's factories, mines and utilities climbed 1.2 percent in May, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday. Factory production rose 0.9 percent. Utility production jumped 4.8 percent, thanks to warm weather that prompted people to crank up their air conditioners. Mining was the only component that lagged.

Wholesale prices actually fell for a second straight month in May. But the 0.3 percent dip was pulled down by a 7 percent drop in gasoline prices and a 7.4 percent fall in home heating oil prices. Core inflation, which excludes energy and food, rose 0.2 percent in May.

Falling energy costs are expected to keep inflation low in June. Gasoline costs are down significantly from a month ago. The nationwide average for regular gasoline is $2.70, down from $2.87 a month ago, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Tax credit, low mortgage rates lifted April home salesReal Estate Outlook: After the Credits

Jim Wright is Nashville Chamber's Partnership 2010 co-chairman

Jim Wright, chairman and CEO of Nashville-based Tractor Supply Co., will succeed Keith Herron, the regional president of Regions Bank, as the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce's Partnership 2010 co-chairman for the 2010-11 fiscal year.
The region is gearing up for its new five-year economic development strategy, Partnership 2020. Details will be announced at 4 p.m. Monday at LP Field's West Club Level.

Wright will work with fellow co-chairman Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, the Chamber's economic development staff and investors to foster economic growth in the region.

Herron will continue on the group's Lead Investor Council, which helps guide the Chamber's economic development strategy. Herron also sits on the Chamber's board of directors and heads its Finance and Audit Committee.

Wright has held executive posts with Western Auto Supply Co. and Kmart Corp. Before joining Tractor Supply, he was president and CEO of Tire Kingdom, a 150-store chain based in West Palm Beach, Fla. He joined Tractor Supply as president and chief operating officer in 2000, becoming CEO in 2004 and chairman in 2007.


Program to foster 'Green Hospitality'

The Tennessee Hospitality Association has come up with a "Tennessee Green Hospitality" certification program that requires third-party audits to qualify a lodging property as energy efficient and sustainable.

The program will encourage hotels, bed and breakfasts, other lodging facilities and restaurants to become aware of their impact on the environment and to take steps to reduce their carbon footprint. It will be discussed at the annual Tennessee Hospital Association conference July 14-15 at Embassy Suites Murfreesboro.


Real Estate Outlook: After the CreditsLKQ Corp. to expand Nashville facility, add 230 jobs

Cummins to bring 220 jobs to Nashville consolidated call center

Cummins Inc. will consolidate its U.S. customer-service call centers at its Nashville location on Elm Hill Pike this fall, eventually creating as many as 220 jobs, the company said Wednesday.
The call center will be in the same facility as the Cummins Filtration subsidiary's world headquarters and the parent company's business-services unit, and will consolidate the current call centers operating in Cookeville, Memphis, and the Cummins global headquarters in Columbus, Ind.

About 15 employees probably will transfer from Cookeville to the new Nashville call center, and others will come from the other two locations, plus some newly hired workers, an official said.

The Cummins move is one of several expansion projects the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce has been working on to bring new jobs to the city, chamber President Ralph Schulz said. It's part of the chamber's initiative to create new jobs from existing local industries, in addition to attracting new companies to the region.

RelatedLKQ Corp. to expand Nashville facility, add 230 jobsJobs resources, tips and videos

"We have seen announcements of around 1,500 new jobs coming into the area just in the past few weeks," he said. Others include the Chicago-based auto-parts maker LKQ Corp., which said recently it would add 230 jobs at its Nashville facility.

Customer-care specialists at the new Cummins call center will take inquiries from North and South America and some other areas, but mostly from North America, the company said.

Announcement is today

Cummins Inc. is mostly known for its diesel engines for trucks and construction equipment, but also makes air, oil and other filter products, as well as electric generators, for customers worldwide.

The Cummins Filtration unit also has a manufacturing plant in Cookeville.

Originally established in 1958 as The Seymour Filter Co. to provide filters for Cummins engines, Cummins Filtration introduced its Fleetguard brand in 1963. The Cookeville plant opened in 1968.

Cummins and the chamber will announce details of the move at a news conference today.

Contact Tennessean business writer G. Chambers Williams III at 615-259-8076 or cwilliams1@tennessean.com.

LKQ Corp. to expand Nashville facility, add 230 jobsSimple Way to Grow Healthy Lawn

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Financial overhaul measures rile small banks

The financial regulatory overhaul making its way through Congress is aimed squarely at the big banks given most of the blame for the credit crisis that brought the economy to its knees.
But the country's small banks are lobbying against dozens of requirements in the legislation, saying they would unfairly burden thousands of institutions that for the most part had nothing to do with subprime mortgages or the complex securities backed by such loans.

Although small banks would be exempt from much of the overhaul, the provisions that would apply would make it harder for community bankers to serve their customers and to expand lending, financial industry groups say.

The proposed rules could overload many community and independent banks, said Nancy Sheppard, chief executive of Western Independent Bankers, a trade group in San Francisco.

RelatedCorker slams banking bill at Nashville stop

As a result, she said, the massive overhaul would create difficulties for two segments of the banking industry: the "too big to fail" and the "too small to comply."

Consumer groups dismiss such objections, saying the exemptions in the legislation mean the small fry already are getting off easy.

Lawmakers last week began efforts to reconcile the Senate's version of the legislation with the House's. Their goal is to deliver the final measure to President Barack Obama for his signature by the Fourth of July.

Both versions would assign regulators to monitor and control the "systemic risk" to the economy posed by the banking system. The Senate version would specifically limit that new oversight to the 30 or so banks in the country with at least $50 billion each in assets.

Both bills also would create a regulatory body charged with protecting consumers from abuse at the hands of financial companies. But the new regulator would not inspect banks with less than $10 billion in assets.

That means only 105 of nearly 8,000 U.S. banks and savings and loan associations would be subject to routine oversight by the consumer protector.

The House bill, however, would let the new agency refer violations of consumer laws to bank regulators and step in to enforce the laws if the main regulator did not. And the Senate bill would allow the agency to keep all banks from forcing customers to have their unresolved complaints heard by an arbitrator instead of by a judge.

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UAW fights for workers, Gettelfinger says in farewell speech

DETROIT — United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger said Monday that the union will continue to fight for federal card-check legislation that would make it easier for workers to organize, a high priority for the UAW as it continues to lose thousands of members.
In his final speech to the UAW after eight years as president, Gettelfinger also urged members to back union-friendly candidates in the November elections, saying conservative politicians showed their contempt for the UAW last year when they opposed the government's bailout of General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC.

"They were willing to let the industry collapse in order to destroy us," said Gettelfinger, who got a warm ovation from more than a thousand UAW members attending the union's quadrennial convention.

Otherwise, Gettelfinger said little about his hopes for the future of the 75-year-old union, which will choose a new president this week. Longtime UAW Vice President Bob King is expected to be elected, although he is facing a challenge from workers angry about wage concessions made while Gettelfinger was UAW chief.

Under Gettelfinger, GM, Chrysler and Ford workers agreed to cut wages in half to $14 an hour for new hires and took other pay and benefit cuts. Gettelfinger didn't mention those concessions specifically, but he said the UAW did the best it could during one of the darkest times in its history. He said the union also asked for concessions from its own workers.

"We faced these challenges and charted a course that led our great union down a path to survival," he said. "We are leaner, yes, but stronger, wiser and more determined, as well."

Gary Walkowicz, a Ford Motor Co. worker making a long-shot bid to defeat King, said the union should go on strike to reverse the wage cuts if necessary. He also wants to restore bonuses, cost-of-living increases and other benefits workers agreed to give up during the economic downturn.

"A lot of the workers I talk to feel it's time for that to be undone," he said. But support for Walkowicz appeared weak on the convention floor, as he and his supporters lost a bid to dispense with union business so they could debate concessions and the UAW's strategy.

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CMA shows 'Nashville is back'

Country music fans turned out big at this year's CMA Music Festival, defying record-breaking temperatures and resolving any doubt that Nashville's May floods would deter diehard music fans.
Estimated daily attendance at the four-day event stood at 65,000, a 16 percent increase over last year, according to figures released by the Country Music Association.

Attendance at LP Field's nightly concerts topped 49,000 — up about 17 percent from 2009 — and sales of four-day concert ticket packages were up by a third, according to the CMA.

"It's proof positive that Nashville is back," said Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau, which advertised heavily in advance of the music festival to get the message out that Nashville was open for tourism and conventions despite recent flooding.

Related3rd outdoor death investigated along with two at CMA festival, BonnarooComplete coverage of CMA Music Festival

The CMA said attendance increased at all of its public venues.

At the Greased Lightning Fan Fair Hall in the Nashville Convention Center, where fans had the chance to meet 253 artists and celebrities in person, attendance was 55,385 over four days, compared with last year's attendance of 53,000.

Riverfront Park's attendance was up 6 percent over last year, when the outdoor concert and vendor area was open for the first time.

How much money CMA visitors spent while they were here is still unknown. Last year, CMA Fest-goers spent an estimated $22 million.

The convention and visitors bureau is expected to release this year's economic impact figures today.

Reach Anita Wadhwani at 615-259-8092 or awadhwani@tennessean.com.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

LifePoint Hospitals remains sole bidder for Sumner Regional

No new suitor emerged to compete with LifePoint Hospitals Inc.’s deal to buy bankrupt Sumner Regional Health Systems, giving the Brentwood-based hospital chain a clear shot at winning approval at a court hearing on Tuesday.
Under the sale agreement disclosed in late April as Sumner Regional filed for bankruptcy, other parties had until last Thursday to make bids to compete with LifePoint’s $154.1 million cash offer plus its commitment to at least $60 million of capital spending over a decade. With no rival offers, an auction set for 11 a.m. today of the assets of the Gallatin-based four-hospitals system didn’t take place.

“Because there were no qualifying competing bids and therefore there was no auction, Sumner Regional will move forward with tomorrow’s sale hearing,” said Nashville lawyer Robert A. Guy Jr., who’s representing the hospital system.

Besides court approval, the LifePoint- Sumner Regional deal also would have to be approved by the state’s attorney general since it involves sale of a not-for-profit entity to a for-profit chain. The deal already has antitrust clearance from the Federal Trade Commission.

During Tuesday’s sale confirmation hearing, the court also is expected to hear objections to the deal such as from Sumner County government and some creditors whose contracts with Sumner Regional will be assigned to LifePoint.

Ardent agrees to buy Ohio hospitalsShort Sale Negotiators

Nashville-area business bankruptcies

Road Runner Courier Service LLC, Nashville

Assets: $23,887

Liabilities: $322,900

SOURCE: U.S. Bankruptcy Court

Establishing a Lead TriadArdent agrees to buy Ohio hospitals

Game developers put on glitz for electronic trade show

LOS ANGELES — There might be something for everyone at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo.
Once a boisterous bastion for geeky gamers, the gaming industry's annual convention has in recent years morphed into a more modest showcase of the latest in hardware and games from publishers and developers who now want to reach consumers of all kinds — not just guys. This year's E3 is likely to mimic last year's shift to a cautiously glitzy affair.

Nearly 250 exhibitors, including publishing giants Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, plan to hype their latest games and gizmos. The Entertainment Software Association expects 45,000 attendees this week, which would be 4,000 more than last year. That's still shy of the 70,000 who flocked to the Los Angeles Convention Center in 2005.

"I think there will be a couple of surprises and a couple of expected things," said Greg Zeschuk, co-founder at Electronic Arts' BioWare. "Obviously, the thing that Sony and Microsoft are going for is to broaden their reach with consumers. It'll be interesting to get hands-on and see what kind of products they'll have that use the motion controls."

Microsoft and Sony unveiled their respective motion-control doodads at last year's E3 and will focus their attention at this year's show on games that use the camera-based systems.

Nintendo, which launched motion control into the mainstream in 2006 with the Wii, will meanwhile flaunt its pulse-detecting Wii Vitality Sensor and the 3DS, a 3-D hand-held device.

In anticipation of the expo, Sony plunged into 3-D gaming last week by releasing three downloadable 3-D games for the PlayStation 3. The publisher plans to demonstrate 3-D versions of bigger games at E3, such as Killzone 3 and Gran Turismo 5 . Other game makers will also exhibit 3-D titles that require a 3-D TV or computer.

Online games on radar

Besides motion control and 3-D gaming, many attendees will no doubt be buzzing about what effect online games such as Farm-Ville and Mafia Wars , which are mobile and cheap to produce and play, will have on the industry. Though such titles won't have a major presence at the convention, developers of bigger games are paying attention to the popular little guys.

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Spirit cancels flights through Tuesday

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Spirit Airlines canceled all of its flights through Tuesday, stranding thousands of passengers or forcing them to pay out of pocket for new flights.
"None of the planes are moving and none of our pilots have crossed the picket line," said Paul Hopkins, who serves as strike committee chairman of Spirit's unit of the Air Line Pilots Association.

The privately held Miramar, Fla.-based airline carries 16,680 passengers a day, about 1 percent of the U.S. total.

Aviation consultants are divided over how long the pilots' strike — the nation's first in five years — will take to resolve. After more than three years of failed talks, union leaders say they're prepared to hold out for a new contract, though they hope it won't come to that.

Spirit is offering full refunds or credits for the cost of flights plus $100 future flight credit. Refunds and credits are being processed through the company's reservation line at 800-772-7117.

For a second day, the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport terminal 4 on Sunday morning was the scene of anger and frustration as travelers returning from Caribbean cruises struggled to find another way home. Most had heard of the strike and knew their flights were canceled, but they had no place to go but the airport.

Spirit gate agents and counter clerks were on hand to help, but few passengers seemed pleased with the help offered: a refund that would show up later on a credit card. There was no help finding flights on other carriers.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bell construction widens its scope

One of Nashville's largest homegrown general contractors has added health-care projects to its repertoire in a bid to pursue opportunities in a promising industry sector.
Brentwood-based Bell & Associates Construction — more widely known for building roads, prisons and commercial offices — has absorbed Nashville-based Medical Construction Group Inc. The partnership has spawned a new division, MCG-Bell Healthcare, which will target construction of a wide range of health-care facilities from hospitals to medical offices.

"We'd like for it to account for 25 percent of our revenues in five years," said Keith Pyle, president and a partner in Bell & Associates.

Bell & Associates' revenues peaked at $307 million in 2007, but fell 26 percent on average in each of the past two years to $168 million for 2009. The decline was a result of recession and a general slowdown in construction. One plus was a short-term boost in road building fueled in large part by a $40 million, one-time benefit from federal stimulus dollars.

Uncertainty over federal health-care reform and difficulties in financing deals took a bite out of medical construction projects, as well, but Bell's brain trust and Wade Putnam, who started Medical Construction Group 27 years ago, expect things to turn around.

"For us, health care is at the bottom of the rollercoaster, and it's going to head back up," said Putnam, who'll now act as executive vice president of Bell & Associates and MCG-Bell. "Now would be a good time to be in the health-care business."

Demographics, the U.S. aging population and passage of a federal health reform package all lend more certainty to what had been an unpredictable environment.

"Given the aging baby boomers and now that we've got the health-care bill passed, there's a lot of activity," said Darek Bell, vice president and a partner in Bell & Associates. "We do see that market coming on stronger and faster than a lot of the other ones."

In many cases, hospitals and other health-care providers are moving forward with projects that had been on hold.

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Bandywood shops wrap up face lift

Boutique and building owners say they hope to attract jewelers, antique shops and other upscale retailers to a new Bandywood retail destination.
John Buntin and friend Jimmy Webb purchased 2225 Bandywood Drive two years ago and are finishing renovations on 9,000 square feet there.

"We want this building and this area to be elegant, private and safe as a one-stop-shop for presents," Buntin said.

In May, Buntin and his wife, Sally, opened J. Craighead & Co., an English porcelain and antiques shop. Webb's wife, Becky, and a partner had earlier relocated Digs, an interior design company that sells home decor and custom lighting, to the area from a shopping center on Highway 100.

Buntin began collecting antiques at age 8. Since then, he has amassed a collection of American and English furniture, gold canes, Western art, English porcelain, cigarette cases and belts. He has moved a small portion of the collection to the new shop.

"I've had fun buying and collecting, and it will be more fun for me to share what I've bought over the years with Nashville," Buntin said. "It's a shop you can come in and quietly look around."


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Nashville real estate updates

Property transfers: The building that houses F. Scott's restaurant and jazz club in Green Hills was purchased by two entities with the same address, with at least one controlled by real estate investor Ben Willingham III. The sales price was $5.8 million.
The building at 2208 Crestmoor Road had been owned by a business managed by George Spiva. It previously sold for $2.9 million in 2001.

Building permit notes: the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) is moving to a new office at the Plaza Tower Metro Center, 200 Athens Way in MetroCenter, according DWC Construction Co.

Elsewhere, The Parkes Companies will build a 23,351-square-foot warehouse and office for Superior Oil at 518 Swinging Bridge Road in Old Hickory for $2 million.

Conseco Group is building a 10,784-square-foot shopping center for nearly
$1 million at the site of the Burger King at 5231 Old Hickory Blvd., Hermitage. Tenants include an unnamed future restaurant, retail shop and medical office.

New name: Nashville-based Southeast Community Capital Corp. has a new name: Pathway Lending. The lender focuses on female and minority entrepreneurs and low-to-moderate income communities. Since it was created in 1999, it has loaned $40 million to more than 350 Tennessee businesses.


Real Estate Outlook: Up or Down?Growth jolts TN job market to life

Nashville People in Business

Bruce M. Petryshak has been named vice president for information technology and chief information officer at Middle Tennessee State University. Petryshak had been chief information officer at Bowling Green State University.
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers has named Michael Martin as senior creative director and Robert Filhart as creative manager at its regional office in Nashville. Martin was partner and co-founder of the Extreme Writers Group. Filhart was an associate manager at Dottore-DuBois Artist Management.


The Tennessee Road Builders Association elected its 2010-11 board. Keith Pyle of Bell & Associates Construction, L.P., was elected president; Jake Stansell, of Stansell Electric, was elected second vice president; and specialty division director Rick Turner, of Rogers Group Inc., was named at-large director among various appointments.


Rich Storey has joined F&M Bank as a mortgage-loan specialist in the bank's Brentwood mortgage office. He had been a senior mortgage adviser for W.R. Starkey Mortgage here.

Kay Waller has been named the senior vice president of Franklin Synergy Bank's planned Brentwood office. Waller has 15 years of banking experience.

The accounting firm of Lattimore Black Morgan & Cain, PC, has promoted Anna Hooker, Candace Hooker, Courtney Howell, Matt Hudgins, Julie Meisner, Hunter Ray and James Travis to the positions of senior in audit. Amanda Cromwell, Stephen Sundstrom and Laura Turner have been promoted to manager in audit. Brad Winstead was named senior manager in audit.

Health care

Rick Bangert was named chief executive of Psychiatric Solutions Inc.'s Rolling Hills Hospital in Franklin. He has 35 years of experience in mental health administration.

Dr. Tommy Ducklo was appointed to a three-year term on the board of Prevent Blindness Tennessee. Ducklo is a therapeutically certified optometrist and has had a private practice in Nashville for 30 years. The board of directors also elected its officers for 2010-11. Everton L. Arrindell, M.D. will serve as chairman; Brenda L. McClain will serve as treasurer, and Lynn Sugg is secretary.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Ardent agrees to buy Ohio hospitals

Ardent Health Services has an agreement to buy assets of an Ohio-based hospital system out of bankruptcy for $69.8 million. Under the asset purchase deal, Nashville-based Ardent will buy three hospitals and largely all of the operating assets of Forum Health.
It's the latest in a run of deals struck by well-capitalized hospital chains based out of the Nashville area to scoop up not-for-profit systems that overall face challenges accessing capital and lingering uncertainty over health-care reform.

"Well-capitalized for-profit operators have the ability to buy these struggling assets at attractive valuations, invest capital into those facilities to make them competitive and hopefully drive margin growth and profitability," said Frank Morgan, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets Inc. in Brentwood.

Among pending deals, LifePoint Hospitals of Brentwood agreed to pay $154 million in cash under an asset purchase agreement to buy Gallatin-based Sumner Regional Health Systems. Also, Nashville-based Vanguard Health Systems has a letter of intent and is working toward a definitive agreement to buy Detroit Medical Center in a deal valued at about $417 million.

As part of the Ardent deal, the health services company pledged to keep all of Youngstown, Ohio-based Forum's hospitals open and invest up to $70 million over five years into renovations, new equipment and other upgrades.

Just over a year ago, Forum Health and related entities filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the nation's bankruptcy code. A bankruptcy judge will review the agreement between Ardent and Forum and hear any other competing bids or objections.

In addition to the hospitals, Ardent said it would buy Forum's physician group, its two diagnostic and imaging centers and five laboratory sites. All three unions that represent Forum's employees and the Ohio Nurses Association support Ardent's deal, according to the company.

Getahn Ward covers the business of health care. He can be reached at 615-726-5968 or at gward@tennessean.com.

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Fake CMA festival merchandise can be seized on the spot

A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order barring street hawkers from selling counterfeit CMA Music Festival merchandise as the huge tourism event hits high gear today.
The order empowers police and CMA-designated personnel to seize suspect merchandise on the spot, with a court hearing later.

"This is really a warning to people trying to sell this fake merchandise that they're not welcome here," said Metro police spokeswoman Kris Mumford, who said police would work closely with CMA officials. "If anyone sees this downtown, they're encouraged to report this to a police officer."

The court ruling by U.S. District Court Judge William J. Haynes puts more teeth in the enforcement abilities of CMA officials and law enforcement to crack down on any illegal hawkers at the city's largest festival.

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Thus far, Metro police say they haven't received any reports of bootleg sales. The judge's ruling gives police or anyone designated by CMA, which employs some off-duty police officers, clearance to seize suspect items and hold them until a June 25 hearing in federal court.

In years past, counterfeit merchandise sellers were spotted selling their wares at various locations, including at LP Field and along Lower Broadway, officials said. Approached by CMA staff, some would quickly load their gear into a duffel bag and walk away, the CMA's court filings said.

The court order "gives us the right to halt the sale of counterfeit merchandise," said CMA spokeswoman Wendy Pearl. "This has always been a concern, but this year, since all proceeds are going to charity, we are taking steps to crack down."

CMA is donating money to flood relief and education this year.

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Fairs, seminars to help businesses with flood recovery

Several organizations are hosting recovery fairs and seminars next week for businesses affected by the early May floods.
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean's business response team and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce will host two fairs Tuesday and Wednesday including federal, state and local organizations such as Metro Codes, the Small Business Administration and the offices of congressional representatives.

The fairs are 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Hickory Hollow Mall (Suite 2151), on the upper level of the mall next to EyeMasters; and on Wednesday at the same time period in the Crown Ballroom of the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel at 2025 Rosa Parks Blvd.

Separately, Regions Bank and the Tennessee Small Business Development Center will stage their own business recovery seminar from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday in the auditorium of Tennessee State University's Avon Williams Campus at 330 10th Ave. N. downtown.

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A panel includes representatives from Regions Bank, Kraft CPAs, the Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis law firm and Pathway Lending, a small business lender.

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AIG accused of being slow to pay injured workers

WASHINGTON — Paul Jasmine, a dog trainer, was on his first mission hunting for explosives in southeastern Afghanistan when he stepped on an improvised bomb.
The blast hurled him 15 feet in the air, blew off his left foot, fractured his right leg and mortally wounded his bomb-sniffing dog, Chucky.

Permanently disabled at 36, Jasmine was transported home to Lake Charles, La., where he said he expects to receive enough workers' compensation benefits from a subsidiary of the American International Group to support him, his wife and their three children.

AIG's Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, the workers' comp carrier for most employees of U.S. overseas contractors, has been sending him benefit checks amounting to $315 a week.

That's a small fraction of the $10,000 a month that Jasmine said he earned during three years in Iraq and of the $7,500-a-month contract that his employer, CAN-Am Protection Group, gave him for war zone duty in Afghanistan.

"I thought I'd be better taken care of, seeing that I was doing this for the country," Jasmine said.

AIG, the company through which more than $90 billion in federal money flowed out the back door to some of the same Wall Street banks whose risky behavior fueled the nation's financial crisis, is now being accused of short-changing its customers. Attorneys for hundreds of injured workers say AIG is dragging out insurance payments that their clients need to cover home mortgages, failing to pay full compensation benefits and refusing to pay medical bills.

Jasmine's Houston lawyers, Joel Mills and Gary Pitts, said that he's getting about a quarter of what he's due under workers' compensation laws because AIG wrongly based his benefits on his earnings in 2009, when he stayed home with his family and wasn't working.

Employees of civilian contractors working abroad are covered by the 83-year-old Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act and the 69-year-old Defense Base Act, laws that set a complex formula for determining compensation for disabled workers.

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LKQ Corp. to expand Nashville facility, add 230 jobs

Chicago-based auto-parts maker LKQ Corp. said Tuesday that it would create up to 230 jobs at its Grassmere Park facility in Nashville in an expansion that also will bring $1.2 million in new capital investment.
LKQ, which in 2007 bought Keystone Automotive Industries, supplies collision-repair parts to auto dealerships and body shops through the United States.

The Nashville expansion results from the company's decision to consolidate its four regional accounting centers across the nation into a single location. Now occupying 35,000 square feet, the facility will be expanded to 50,000 square feet to accommodate a new financial services center, the company said.

"The new center will become part of our Nashville-based corporate support facility," said John Quinn, LKQ's executive vice president and chief financial officer. "We appreciate the level of interest and commitment offered by the city of Nashville and state of Tennessee."

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He praised Nashville for "its favorable pro-business environment, geographic centrality and great people."

Working to recruit LKQ's expanded operation were the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce's Partnership 2010 team, the Mayor's Office, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and TVA economic development representatives.

"LKQ's decision to expand its operations in Nashville is a great economic development win for our city," Mayor Karl Dean said.

The company will transfer some employees from other locations and will hire new workers for accounting, information technology and payroll jobs. Employment inquiries can be sent to careers@lkqcorp.com, the company said.

Reach G. Chambers Williams III at 615-259-8076 or cwilliams1@tennessean.com.

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Nashville families' beach plans marred by Gulf oil spill

Brent Daughrity finds himself caught between a rock and an oil spill.
The Franklin insurance agent knows his family could switch to a safe beach vacation facing the Atlantic Ocean at Hilton Head Island, S.C., as Plan B, but he isn't quite ready to jettison a long-planned trip to Destin, Fla., next week, as well as a $400 condo deposit that he'd likely lose by canceling.

"A vacation is supposed to be about memories and fun in the sun and relaxation," said Daughrity, who is excited about his 4-month-old daughter's first ocean views. "I don't want to do that over the smell of oil coming in from the Gulf."

As oil spewing from BP's Deep Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico creeps toward and onto more of the sandy white beaches of Alabama and Florida, some Middle Tennesseans are changing course, pulling their tourism dollars out of places such as Gulf Shores, Ala., and Destin, Fla., and heading elsewhere.

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Hotels and some landlords along the Gulf Coast have reported cancellations, including from Nashville-area residents. If Destin loses Daughrity, it also loses the $5,000 he had budgeted to spend on vacation.

"We're really upset we've had to cancel, but what kind of quality vacation would that be to sit in your condo all day?" said Michael Greer, whose family vacation to Gulf Shores next week has been rebooked for Tybee Island, Ga.

The Bellevue banker, his wife and her family have been going to the same condominium in Gulf Shores for several years and were particularly looking forward to the trip this year after the stress of their home flooding here last month.

But they're breaking the tradition after hearing reports of tar balls on beaches and swimming restrictions.

Greer said he has heard that Tybee Island's beaches are grainier, the tide is stronger and the water isn't as crystal blue as Gulf Shores. Plus, the family will have to pay about $800 more for a four-bedroom beach house they've secured at the last minute.

"But we've heard you can't even sit on the beach because of the horrendous smell," Greer said, referring to Gulf Shores. "They said it's disgusting, like a gasoline or chemical smell."

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