Experts Expect Tennessee Tax Collections to Continue to Grow at a Slower Rate

Tennessee’s collection of taxes and fees are expected to continue to rise over the next two years, but the rate of increase won’t match its recent record-breaking pace, according to estimates from the University of Tennessee’s Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research.

The numbers were presented as part of a series of financial presentations given to Tennessee’s State Funding Board as it prepares to give its estimates for the state’s finances for next fiscal year. Those estimates are then used in the state’s budget-making process.

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Tennessee Collects $1.14 Billion in Sales Taxes in October, Putting State $585.5 Million over Revenue Estimate

The state of Tennessee has collected $585.8 million more than budgeted in taxes and fees in the first three months of the fiscal year.

That’s after the state collected $4.6 billion more than its initial budgeted estimate for last fiscal year. Tennessee’s State Funding Board heard testimony Thursday from economists as it worked toward establishing next fiscal year’s estimates.

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Google Agrees to Nearly $400 Million Settlement with 40 States over Location-Tracking Probe

Google agreed to a $391.5 million settlement with 40 states after an investigation found that the tech giant participated in questionable location-tracking practices, state attorneys general announced Monday.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong called it a “historic win for consumers.”

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Mission America’s Aaron Spradlin Describes Nonprofit to Help Stop Child Sex Trafficking

Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed Mission America’s Aaron Spradlin in studio to explain the different types of child sex trafficking that occurs at state and national levels. 

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Tennessee Will Receive $82.2 Million Towards Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Memphis-area Rep. Steve Cohen (R-TN-09) announced on Wednesday that Tennessee will receive $82.2 million towards the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which is administered through the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In a statement made to The Tennessee Star, Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN-02) said, “It’s a shame the Democrats’ reckless spending and war on domestic energy production is causing our energy prices to skyrocket. More East Tennesseans will be dependent on these funds this year because the Biden administration’s policies caused a problem that was avoidable from the start.”

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Knoxville Community Empowerment Director Lomax Resigns to Run Local Urban League Chapter

Knoxville’s Community Empowerment Department Director Charles F. Lomax Jr. has announced today that he will step down from the position of director on December 9 to become the president and CEO of the Knoxville Area Urban League.

“I will always be grateful for Mayor Kincannon’s faith in me and the opportunity to serve as part of her administration. While I will miss my team at the city, I am excited to embark upon this journey and to serve our community in this new capacity. I look forward to working alongside the staff and board of the Knoxville Area Urban League as we empower communities to change lives,” Lomax said.

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Owner and CEO of Auto Masters Indicted for Multi-Million-Dollar Bank Fraud

Brentwood area businessman Mahan Janbakhsh and Steven L. Piper of Joelton were arrested by FBI agents on Thursday for their role in an alleged conspiracy to commit multi-million-dollar bank fraud.

According to the Department of Justice, the indictment charges Janbakhsh and Piper with conspiring to defraud Capital One and First Tennessee Bank (now First Horizon); five counts of defrauding these financial institutions; five counts of making false statements and over-valuing property and securities to influence these financial institutions; and three counts of making false representations during official proceedings.

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The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury Published an Audit Revealing that Tennessee State University Mishandled Five Years of Funding

The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury published an audit on Thursday revealing that Tennessee State University (TSU) management mishandled over five years of funding.

According to the audit, “Management’s failure to adequately implement a system of internal control increases the risk of TSU not achieving key objectives related to financial reporting. When management and staff do not take adequate care when preparing financial statements and the accompanying notes to the financial statements, the risk of errors in the financial statements increases. Providing inaccurate financial information can negatively impact the decision-making ability of users of the financial statements.”

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Representative Tim Burchett Sponsors New Act Which Would Use Recycled Plastic in Asphalt

Tennessee U.S. Representative Tim Burchett (R-TN-02) introduced the Recycled Plastic Asphalt Act last week that would create a research program for using recycled plastic in asphalt.

Burchett said, “If we want to take care of our environment, we need to rely on more innovative green solutions than just wind and solar. Studying the real-world use of RPM asphalt will take us a step closer to building a cleaner infrastructure and a cleaner future.”

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Governor Bill Lee Announces Tennessee Will Not Mandate the COVID-19 Vaccine for Schools

Governor Bill Lee announced Thursday that Tennessee would not require COVID-19 vaccines for children to go to school in response to the recommendation made by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

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Music Spotlight: Mackenzie Carpenter

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Those who follow my column know I find a lot of my new artists from the Song Suffragettes or SiriusXM’s The Highway. On The Highway, They feature new artists who are often named as their “Highway Finds.” And while I’m not always crazy about every new musician they feature, when I heard Mackenzie Carpenter’s “Can’t Nobody” a few months back, it was love at first listen.

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Tennessee Collects Record $8.7 Million in Taxes on September Sports Betting After June Rule Change

Tennessee collected $8.7 million in taxes on $336.9 million in sports wagers in September, according to new numbers from the state’s Sports Wagering Advisory Council.

The taxes are more than the state has collected in a month since wagering opened in November 2020. The previous high was $5.9 million collected in November 2021.

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Murfreesboro’s First Responders Warn Citizens to Stay off Train Track After Two People Are Hit Within Two Days

Murfreesboro’s first responders are urging citizens to stay off the train tracks after two people were hit by trains within two days of each other.

“Walking on train tracks is dangerous and illegal. Most don’t realize how quickly a train can approach you, and it takes quite a bit of time for it to stop,” said Murfreesboro Police Department Lieutenant Greg Walker.

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Sumner, Rutherford County Sheriff Offices Warn of Scam Caller Falsely Claiming to Represent the Sheriff’s Office

The Sumner County Sheriff’s Office issued a warning to the public on Friday to be aware of an increase in scam calls impersonating the Sumner County Sheriff’s Office.

The Sumner County Sheriff’s Office released a statement on Facebook, saying, “Recently there has been an increase in scam calls. When the calls are answered, the subject claims to be from the Sheriff’s Office and will even provide a name, in some cases they have used a third-party application, so the caller ID shows the Sheriff’s Office phone number. When you check the number, it appears to be from the Sheriff’s Office. The caller will request payment for bond or claim you missed jury duty and need to pay a fine to avoid being arrested.”

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Tennessee State Comptroller Jason Mumpower Signs Off on $100 Million Development Plan Centered Around Chattanooga Lookouts Stadium: Report

Tennessee State Comptroller Jason Mumpower gave his conditional approval for the plan to build the new South Broad District in Chattanooga, which includes the Chattanooga Lookouts’ new stadium.

In a letter to Attorney Mamantov, Comptroller Mumpower stated that the final contract is in the best interest of the city if it includes a commitment to make annual lease payments of at least one million dollars for the next 30 years and if all excess tax revenues will be used for eligible purposes.

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Rutherford County School Board Says Schools Are at Full Capacity

The Rutherford County Board of Education expressed their concerns regarding the lack of space available for teachers, students, and storage at the board of education meeting on Wednesday.

Dr. Sullivan expressed his concern at the board of education meeting, saying, “We have an extra gym class on what used to be the stage. We have split our structured setting CDC classroom into four different classrooms, so they have different pods within that structured setting. Every teacher work room but one has been turned into a classroom.”

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Cage-Free Chicken Farmers Announce $30.8 Million Investment in Morristown

Handsome Brook Farms announced, on Friday, that they will be investing $30.8 million, as Handsome Brook Farms establishes their first manufacturing operations in Hamblen County, Tennessee.

The chief executive officer of Handsome Brook Farms, Jordan Czeizler, said, “We are excited to locate this new manufacturing business here in Morristown and to join this community as an employer, investor, property owner, and corporate citizen. As we researched possible locations across several states, we kept coming back to the favorable environment created by local, regional, TVA, and state officials here in Tennessee and in Morristown. We look forward to growing our business here in this community and sincerely appreciate the support and welcome that we have received.”

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Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Receives $3 Million Grant to Support Families and Children Affected by Opioid Addiction

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) is receiving a $3,000,000 grant to support families and children affected by opioids or other substance abuse.

DMHSAS Commissioner Marie Williams said, “When addiction hits a person, it impacts their whole family in ways that will be felt for years to come. We’ve seen time and time again that if a person can achieve recovery, they can unlock the door to being the parent they always wanted to be. We’re so grateful to our partners in this work, and we know that it will truly have a generational impact for hundreds of families.”

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Tennessee Celebrates Record-Breaking Tourism

Mark Ezell, the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, went to Sevier County to congratulate the Tennessee tourism team for a record-breaking year.

“Tennessee is crushing it with the largest visitor spending national market share for Tennesseans in our history,” Ezell said in a recent statement.

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New Details Emerge After Deadly Car Crash Involving State Representative Ron Gant

Tennessee State Representative Ron Gant was airlifted to Regional One in Memphis, Tennessee, after being seriously injured in a car accident on Wednesday night in Hardeman County.

Since the initial reports broke, a spokesperson for State Rep. Gant detailed the extent of his injuries in a Facebook post Saturday evening

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Tennessee Supreme Court Hears Arguments Regarding Convicted Man’s Voting Rights Restoration

The Tennessee Supreme Court heard arguments, on Wednesday, regarding the voting rights of Earnest Falls, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Virginia in 1986.

Earnest Fall’s attorney, Bill Harbison, argued for Falls’ right to vote, saying, “A fundamental bedrock interest in this case is that a person who has the fundamental right to vote does not need his rights restored.”

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Lack of Juvenile Center Beds Leaves Unruly Youths Disrupting Tennessee Department of Children’s Services

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services told a Tennessee legislative committee, that they have been forced to bring in armed security and highway patrol due to the number of high-risk youth that are forced to sleep in state offices, because of the lack of beds at juvenile detention centers.

DCS Commissioner, Margie Quin, told lawmakers, “Because of the limitations on available beds, there are about 11-15 juvenile justice youth in local DCS offices awaiting appropriate placement. DDS offices are being utilized because local detention centers are at capacity.”

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Carol Swain on Her Conversation with Bill Barr, Prohibited-Concepts Training for Tennessee School Board Members

Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Carol M. Swain in studio to explain her run-in with former United States Attorney General Bill Barr and how her credit-approved company, Real Unity Training Solutions educate school board members on the prohibited concepts law.

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Five Memphis IRS Employees Charged with Defrauding over $1 Million in Federal COVID-19 Relief Funds

Five current or former IRS employees in the Memphis area have been charged with defrauding federal Covid-19 relief programs after spending relief money on Mercedes, Gucci, and trips to Las Vegas.

U.S. Attorney Kevin G. Ritz, for the Western District of Tennessee, said, “These individuals-acting out of pure greed- abused their positions by taking government funds meant for citizens and businesses who desperately needed it. I thank our law enforcement partners for rooting out this fraud. Our office will not hesitate to pursue and charge individuals who steal from our nation’s taxpayers.”

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Metro Council Approves Mayor John Cooper’s $50 Million ‘Housing First’ Plan Tackling Homelessness

The Nashville Metro Council voted on Tuesday night to approve Mayor John Cooper’s $50 million four-part “Housing First” plan to address homelessness.

Following the Metro Council’s approval, Mayor Cooper issued the following statement, “I am grateful to Council for overwhelmingly approving my $50 million plan to get our most vulnerable off the streets and into the stable housing. Homelessness is a decades-old challenge for Nashville, and I believe the size, scope, and sophistication of this plan meets the magnitude of the problem.”

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Mass Resignation Leaves One Officer on Jacksboro Police Force

Tennessee’s Jacksboro Police Department has one officer remaining on the police force after Chief Jeremy Goins and several officers abruptly resigned Monday morning.

“Yesterday, we had four police officers turn in their guns and badges and walk off the job. They were not fired, and they did not formally resign; they walked off the job,” City Attorney Stephen Hurst told The Tennessee Star.

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Tennessee Closing In on $6 Billion in Sports Wagers Since Online Wagering Opened in November 2020

If trends hold, by the end of next month Tennessee will have seen $6 billion in sports wagers since the state opened legal online sports gambling in November 2020.

Then, the state had four sportsbook operators in Action 24/7, BetMGM, FanDuel and DraftKings.

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‘Right to Work’ Amendment to Tennessee Constitution Allows Union Opt-Out

The citizens of Tennessee will have the opportunity to vote to add a “right to work” provision into the state constitution on election day this November 8.

Constitutional Amendment 1 would amend Article XI of the Tennessee Constitution to add:

It is unlawful for any person, corporation, association, or this state or its political subdivisions to deny or attempt to deny employment to any person by reason of the person’s membership in, affiliation with, resignation from, or refusal to join or affiliate with any labor union or employee organization.

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1,000 Memphis First Responders Will Newly Qualify for Benefits from 1978 Pension Plan, Pending City Council Approval

The City of Memphis announced Wednesday that roughly 1,000 first responders will qualify to take part in the city’s 1978 pension plan, pending the Memphis City Council’s approval.

“I am happy to say that we have agreed with the association to provide those firefighters and police officers who currently do not qualify for the 1978 pension plan  – those hired since July 1, 2016, and all future hires – to have the option to choose the 1978 or the 2016 pension plan beginning July 1, 2023, subject to city council approval. Currently, there are about 1,000 firefighters, police officers, and dispatchers who would qualify,” Mayor Jim Strickland said.

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Tennessee Textbook Commission Requests Additional Staff Following Passage of Library Materials Law

The Tennessee textbook commission expressed their need for additional staff and an attorney, following the library materials law, requiring schools to catalog and publicize their list of library and classroom materials.

Director of Schools for Bradley County and Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission chair Linda Cash spoke to the legislative subcommittee that the law has added a lot of work “to people who already have a full load.”

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Memphis City Council Discusses the Enforcement of Curfew for Minors Under 18 Years Old

During a public safety committee, on Tuesday, The Memphis City Council discussed strictly enforcing the Memphis curfew for children 17 and under.  

Vice Chairman Martavius Jones said, “Juvenile Crime has spiked over the years…I commend our men and women in blue for all that they are doing. However, the things that are on the books, we definitely want to make those things happen…One thing that we do know, if they are in the house, a lot of this wouldn’t be happening. If they [children] were at home, under parental supervision, some of these things wouldn’t be happening.”

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Despite Slight Uptick, Gas Prices in Tennessee Are 7.42 Percent Lower than Last Month

Despite a slight uptick in the past day, gas prices in Tennessee are still lower than they were a month ago.

According to data from AAA, the average price per gallon was $3.193 per gallon, up slightly from the day before, which was $3.186. That’s still 7.42% cheaper than the average price in the Volunteer State was a month earlier at $3.449 per gallon.

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Georgia-Pacific Announces $425 Million Investment in Jackson, Tennessee

Georgia-Pacific announced Monday that it would invest at least $425 million to construct a Dixie manufacturing facility in Jackson, Tennessee.

Fernando Gonzalez, Georgia-Pacific’s president of consumer business, said, “Although we have invested to expand existing sites, this is the first new Dixie plant the company has built since 1991. This added capacity will help us meet the needs of our customers as consumer demand for high-quality, durable paper plates and bowls continues to grow.”

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Number of Firearms Stolen This Year from Vehicles in Metro Nashville Will Soon Top 1,000

According to the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, this year, 998 guns have been stolen from vehicles in Nashville, Tennessee, including 17 guns, stolen from vehicles last week.

In a video posted by the MNPD, Chief of Police Chief Drake said, “It’s become a disturbing trend, and it needs to stop; guns being stolen from vehicles. Criminals are continuously checking door handles, ready to steal, and if guns are left visible, they will do whatever it takes to break in. It takes just seconds for someone to grab your gun and go. Stats from this year shows a tremendous increase in guns being stolen from vehicles.”

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Representative Cepicky and Senator Hensley Request Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to Put Hold on Landfill Development Plans

State Representative Scott Cepicky and Senator Joey Hensley announced that requested the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) to hold off on plans to put a massive landfill in Maury County, Tennessee.

In a letter to the agency, State Representative Scott Cepicky stated, “Myself and others have concerns about the new permitting at the Monsanto land. It’s been almost 10 years since we fought the mega dump in Maury County. We must protect the duck river and our water source for southern middle Tennessee. Senator Hensley and myself have sent this letter to the TDEC asking for everything to slow down and perform town halls in Maury County to get the opinions of the locals. We will stay on top of this from the state level making sure everything in process is transparent.”

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Uncle Dave Macon Days Returns to Murfreesboro October 7

Uncle Dave Macon Days returns to Murfreesboro for a root’s music celebration held October 7-8 at the Fountains in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Christian Hidalgo, producer of the Uncle Dave Macon Days documentary stated, “Everyone associated with this world-class festival is very excited to see it come back to Murfreesboro after being off for a couple of years. Old-time music lovers from all over the world have made this one of the most exciting events in the southeast.”

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Report: Tennessee a Hotspot for Inflation-Based Price Increases

Nashville ranked 14th in the country in the number of businesses that reported moderate or large price increases in a new poll from LendingTree. Tennessee, meanwhile, ranked 11th among all states.

The report, based on the U.S. Census Bureau Small Business Pulse Survey, said that 80.2% of businesses in Nashville reported those increases.

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Knoxville Neighborhood Initiative Receives $40 Million Federal Grant for ‘Transformation’

Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation (KCDC) was awarded a $40 million federal grant for a plan dubbed, “Transforming Western Heights,” aimed to improve the area with more affordable housing and access to transportation.

“Transforming Western truly represents a collaborative effort after 14 months of intensive community engagement,” KCDC Executive Director and CEO Ben Bentley said in a press statement. “This plan is a synthesis of the dreams and ideas of the residents, community members and stakeholders, and will transform Western Heights and the Beaumont neighborhood into a community where families and residents can thrive.”

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Dickson County Sheriff’s Office Warns Residents of Suspicious Mail as Unknown Powder Is Tested

The Dickson County Sheriff’s Office issued a warning to the public Thursday to be aware of packages containing an unknown white powder sent by mail.

In a social media post, the Sheriff’s office said, “Many of you have seen this post being shared on Facebook, and we wanted to confirm that it is legit. If you receive a package like this, do not open and please contact us.

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Shaterra Reed Marion Appointed as Judge on the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims

Shaterra Reed Marion was appointed as a judge on the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims in Memphis, by new Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator Troy Haley the state Department of Labor & Workforce (TDLW) announced Wednesday.

“Shaterra Reed Marion will be a welcome addition to the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims in Memphis. She has the heart of a public servant and, as a judge, I know she will be fair to all parties and reflect the values for which the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims is known,” Haley said.

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Tennessee Shifts Learning Loss Programs to Stimulus Funding, Moves Road Projects to State Funds

Tennessee plans to spend $102 million of its $3.7 billion American Rescue Plan allocation on a learning loss intervention program for Tennessee students.

The program — including summer learning camps, after-school learning mini-camps, and learning loss bridge camps — was approved in 2021 by Tennessee’s Legislature at a cost of $36 million per year, including a mix of state and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds.

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Tennessee Committed to at Least $60 Million in Economic Incentive Grants This Year

Tennessee has committed to more than $60 million in FastTrack economic incentive grants to businesses this year after committing more than $200 million of the grants to businesses in 2021.

FastTrack grants are state grants sent to local governments for specific infrastructure improvements or to companies to help offset the costs of expanding or moving into the state with the goal of increasing the number of full-time jobs and the average wages of jobs available in an area.

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Tennessee Starts New Fiscal Year $130 Million Above Expectations in Tax and Fee Collections

The total taxes collected by Tennessee in the first month of the new fiscal year continued last year’s increasing trend.

Tennessee collected $1.5 billion in August, which was $130.5 million more than what was budgeted and $100.6 million more than what the state collected in August 2021, despite a moratorium on personal care and autocycle registrations.

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Memphis Record Pressing Predicted to Become North America’s Largest Producer of Vinyl Records

Memphis Record Pressing, located in Bartlett, Tennessee, is predicted to be North America’s largest producer of vinyl records by next year. Producing around 130,000 records a day, Memphis Record Pressing will produce over 10 million records this year.

Brandon Seavers, co-founder and CEO of Memphis Record Pressing, said, “It’s a humbling experience for me, and for Mark as well, to see where we are today. Literally every day when I drive up, I say, ‘This is not real. There is no way that we are manufacturing a legacy, analog format/medium in the 21st century, and we’re actually breaking ground and constructing a new facility to do this.”

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United Way of West TN CEO’s Opposition to Charter School Appeal of Jackson-Madison County Denial Draws Criticism from Supporters

The CEO of United Way of West Tennessee’s public statement opposing American Classical Academy Madison’s appeal of the Jackson-Madison County Public School System’s denial of the school’s public charter has drawn heavy criticism from the school’s supporters.

“Matt Marshall, the president and CEO of United Way of West Tennessee, [spoke] in opposition to ACA during the public comment portion of the American Classical Academy Madison County Charter School Appeal Public Hearing on Thursday, September 15, 2022, in Jackson, Tenn.,” The Jackson Sun reported.

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Federal Government Approves Tennessee’s $88 Million Electric Vehicle Charging Station Plan

Tennessee’s plan to distribute $88 million in federal funds to build electric vehicle charging stations in the state has been approved by the Biden Administration.

The plan calls for Tennessee to spend $13.7 million of federal funds this fiscal year and the remainder over the following four years as part of $7.5 billion federal plan.

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Report: Large Economic Incentives Like Those in Tennessee Increasing Exponentially

Billion-dollar economic incentives, including the one that Tennessee gave to Ford for its plan to build a $5.6 billion electric truck plant outside Memphis, are increasing across the country, according to a new report from The Center for Economic Accountability.

And while fewer economic incentives have been awarded during the past two years, the average amounts of those incentives have increased significantly even in inflation-adjusted funds.

While the Tennessee Legislature approved $884 million in incentives toward Ford’s Blue Oval City in a special session last fall, the overall incentive package for the project is expected to exceed $1 billion.

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