business

7 Tennessee companies get top rating from Human Rights Campaign

Seven Tennessee-based companies received the highest rating for their policies toward LGBTQ employees in the latest Corporate Equality Index by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. They are AllianceBernstein, Asurion, Bass Berry & Sims, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Genesco, Haven Behavioral Healthcare, and Unum Group.

Seven other companies rated at below 40 on the group’s 100-point scale: Autozone, International Paper, Community Health Systems, Delek Holdings, Envision Healthcare, Lifepoint Health, and Tractor Supply Company. The last two received zero out of 100.

Here’s the full release from the Human Rights Campaign:

WASHINGTON – America’s leading companies and law firms are stepping up in record numbers to adopt increasingly forward-looking policies and practices to meet the needs of their lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) workers in the U.S. and abroad, according to the 2020 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) released today by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization.

In the most rigorous assessment of LGBTQ-inclusive workplace policies and practices to date, a record of more than 680 companies have been designated a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality by the HRC Foundation for their efforts in satisfying all of the CEI’s criteria results, earning them a 100 percent rating. Top-scoring companies include seven in Tennessee.

In total, 1059 companies and law firms were officially rated in the new CEI, up from 1028 in last year’s survey. The report also unofficially rated 122 Fortune 500 companies, which have yet to respond to an invitation to participate in the CEI survey assessing their LGBTQ policies and practices. The average score for companies and law firms based in Tennessee is 70 percent. Of the 25 companies ranked, seven earned 100 points, 13 earned 90 points and above, and 15 earned 80 points and above.

For the first time, HRC this year is giving special recognition to the 11 companies that earned top marks on all three of HRC’s workplace equality assessments: the CEI, as well as Equidad MX and Equidad CL. HRC’s groundbreaking Equidad program recognizes Latin American companies and U.S. multinational companies for their work in Mexico and Chile.

“These companies know that protecting their LGBTQ employees and customers from discrimination is not just the right thing to do — it is also the best business decision. In addition, many of these leaders are also advocating for the LGBTQ community and equality under the law in the public square,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “From supporting LGBTQ civil rights protections in the U.S. through HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act, to featuring transgender and non-binary people in an ad in Argentina, to advocating for marriage equality in Taiwan — businesses understand their LGBTQ employees and customers deserve to be seen, valued and respected not only at work, but in every aspect of daily life.”

Employer Headquarters Location State 2020 CEI Rating
AllianceBernstein LP Nashville TN 100
Asurion LLC Nashville TN 100
Bass, Berry & Sims PLC Nashville TN 100
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Chattanooga TN 100
Genesco Inc. Nashville TN 100
Haven Behavioral Healthcare Nashville TN 100
Unum Group Chattanooga TN 100
Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC Memphis TN 90
Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. Nashville TN 90
Change Healthcare Nashville TN 90
Dollar General Corp. Goodlettsville TN 90
Eastman Chemical Co. Kingsport TN 90
Nissan North America Inc. Franklin TN 90
FedEx Corp. Memphis TN 85
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. Lebanon TN 80
First Horizon National Corp. Memphis TN 75
HCA – Hospital Corporation of America Nashville TN 70
Regal Entertainment Group Knoxville TN 60
AutoZone Inc. Memphis TN 40
International Paper Co. Memphis TN 30
Community Health Systems, Inc. Franklin TN 20
Delek US Holdings Brentwood TN 20
Envision Healthcare Holdings Inc. Nashville TN 20
LifePoint Health Brentwood TN 0
Tractor Supply Company Brentwood TN 0

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Ernst & Young announces 600 new jobs in Nashville

Gov. Bill Haslam announces on Nov. 13, 2018, that Ernst & Young will add 600 jobs in Nashville. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A press release from Gov. Bill Haslam’s office:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and Ernst & Young LLP (EY) officials announced today that the global professional services firm will invest more than $20 million to establish a facility to deliver tax managed services for clients and tax technology operations in Nashville. EY expects to create more than 600 jobs over the next five years.

“EY’s decision to create hundreds of technology and service delivery jobs in Nashville affirms our ongoing efforts to bring high quality jobs to Tennessee,” Haslam said. “Tennessee’s pro-growth policies continue to attract leading international businesses to our state. I’d like to thank EY for making this major investment in Middle Tennessee and bringing us one step closer to making Tennessee the top state in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

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UPDATE: Amazon to invest $230M, add 5,000 jobs in Nashville

Gov. Bill Haslam announces on Nov. 13, 2018, that Amazon will locate its East Coast logistics hub in Nashville. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal )

Here’s a press release from Amazon outlining its $230 million and adding 5,000 jobs in Nashville.

Amazon’s new Operations Center of Excellence in Nashville

  • Downtown Nashville, along the Cumberland River, is the heart of the city just north of the Gulch and is home to urban living, retail, restaurants, entertainment venues, hospitality, open green spaces, and offices. The area is served by commuter rail, more than a dozen bus routes, and is a 15-minute drive to Nashville International Airport.
  • As part of Amazon’s investment, Tennessee, Davidson County and the city of Nashville will benefit from 5,000 full-time, high-paying jobs; over $230 million in investment; 1 million square feet of energy-efficient office space; and an estimated incremental tax revenue of more than $1 billion over the next 10 years as a result of Amazon’s investment and job creation.
  • Amazon will receive performance-based direct incentives of up to $102 million based on the company creating 5,000 jobs with an average wage of over $150,000 in Nashville. This includes a cash grant for capital expenditures from the state of Tennessee of $65 million based on the company creating 5,000 jobs over the next 7 years, which is equivalent to $13,000 per job; a cash grant from the city of Nashvilleof up to $15 million based on $500 for each job created over the next 7 years; and a job tax credit to offset franchise and excise taxes from the state of Tennessee of $21.7 million based on $4,500 per new job over the next 7 years.

“We want to thank Amazon for its continued investment in the state of Tennessee and are excited about the additional 5,000 corporate jobs they will be creating in Nashville,” said Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee. “It has never been clearer that Tennessee is a great place to do business, and we continue to attract a wide variety of global companies that provide high-paying, quality jobs for our residents.”

“Amazon’s decision to expand its presence in Nashville is a direct result of the talented workforce and strong community we’ve built here,” said Mayor David Briley of Nashville. “These are quality, high-paying jobs that will boost our economy, provide our workers with new opportunities, and show the rest of the world that Nashville is a premiere location for business investment. We thank Amazon for investing in Nashville, and we look forward to welcoming them to this community.”

8:49 a.m.: Reuters reports that while Nashville might not have made the final cut for Amazon’s second headquarters (that one appears to be a split decision between New York and northern Virginia),  the Tennessee capital is in line for a separate East Coast hub of operations. That decision will be good for 5,000 new corporate jobs in the city, according to the news services’ sources.

A press conference for an unspecified “significant economic development announcement” was scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Central at the state Capitol.

TN politicians praise Supreme Court decision on states collecting taxes from on Internet sales

Overturning older decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that states may require most online retailers to collect sales taxes on purchases made by their residents. The 5-4 decision came in a South Dakota case that had seen  Tennessee’s attorney general joining in support of South Dakota’s effort to begin requirement collection of the taxes.

Tennessee’s state Department of Revenue issued a new rule in 2016 requiring internet sellers to collect state and local sales taxes from their Tennessee customers. State legislators let the new rule stand, but implementation has been stalled awaiting court action.

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Fitzgerald Glider blames EPA rules — which Diane Black sought to block — as it cuts production, lays off employees

Fitzgerald Glider Kits, the Crossville-based company that stirred controversy earlier this year over dealings with U.S. Rep. Diane Black involving EPA rules for the old diesel engines it uses in producing trucks, has slashed its production and is laying off many employees, reports the Upper Cumberland Business Journal. The company blames EPA rules, which Black had pushed to repeal.

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Folks reported ‘flocking’ to first TN hemp dispensary — offering ‘pain relief’ through ‘mother nature’

People are “flocking” to the first hemp dispensary in Tennessee, which recently opened in Murfreesboro, says WTVF TV in a report that seems almost an advertisement for cannabidiol oil (CBD) sales – legalized by the state legislature two years ago with little fanfare and previously peddled on a mostly incidental basis within the state. Such sales led to a big bust in Rutherford County earlier this year, but all charges were dismissed after law enforcement officials realized candy contained CBD derived from hemp, not its illegal cousin plant marijuana, is legal in Tennessee and TBI labs confirmed that was the stuff being sold.

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Former mayoral candidate and business partner buy Nashville Scene and Nashville Post

The company owned by Nashville entrepreneur and former mayoral candidate Bill Freeman and his longtime business partner Jimmy Webb has acquired the Nashville Scene, the Nashville Post and Nfocus from holding company SouthComm, according to an article in the Scene.

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Gibson goes from Trump, Blackburn darling to Chapter 11

Nashville-based guitar maker Gibson has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company’s products were featured at the White House last year as part of President Donald Trump’s “Made in America Product Showcase.” And in 2011, Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz was the guest of U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) at then-President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. Juszkiewicz had blasted the Democratic adminstration for raids on Gibson factories to seize exotic wood imported in violation of environmental laws. Gibson the following year agreed to pay a $300,000 penalty to get federal prosecutors to drop the criminal case.

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Approved bill lets TN corporations avoid increased taxation

A bill that largely spares Tennessee corporations from an increase in state business taxes otherwise triggered by President Donald Trump’s 2017 federal tax overhaul is on its way to Gov. Bill Haslam for his signature, reports the Times Free Press.

According to a legislative fiscal note, enactment of the bill (SB2119, as amended) means the state will be giving up potential $112 million in foregone state corporate excise tax revenue over a period of several years beginning in fiscal year 2020-2021. And businesses, of course, will be spared paying that much in added taxes.

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With Haslam signature, legal Sunday booze sales can begin this weekend

Gov. Bill  Haslam today signed into law legislation that authorizes Sunday sales of liquor and wine, according to his communications department. The bill (HB1540) says that, insofar as liquor stores go, it takes effect “upon becoming law” – meaning when governor signs it.

Thus, Tennessee liquor stores could legally be open on this Sunday if the operators wish – or have time to prepare. But the bill also declares the effective date for grocery stores and supermarkets that sell wine only is Jan. 1, 2019. The first Sunday after that date is Jan. 6, 2019.

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