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VOL. 44 | NO. 5 | Friday, January 31, 2020

Belmont to merge with Watkins College of Art

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Belmont University and Watkins College of Art have announced their intent to merge, with Watkins College of Art beginning a transition to Belmont’s campus following the completion of this academic year.

The governing boards for Belmont and Watkins have agreed Watkins’s programs will be integrated into Belmont’s campus this summer, with Watkins’ students starting classes at Belmont in August 2020.

The agreement formally joins two institutions that already share a strong academic partnership as Watkins and Belmont students have previously been able to take select courses at both institutions.

The addition of the Watkins College of Art follows Belmont’s 2018 merger with O’More College of Design, which strengthened Belmont’s fine arts portfolio while adding new programs in fashion and interior design.

The property on which Watkins College of Art currently sits will be sold with proceeds being used to create an endowment to support scholarships for Watkins students.

Insurance company boosts minimum wage

The American Family Insurance group, which includes Nashville-based The General, is raising its minimum hourly rate to $20, retroactive to Jan. 1.

The change will result in raises for nearly 1,700 employees at American Family group companies. The group employs nearly 13,500 employees across the country.

“As an organization committed to exceptional customer service, it is essential we invest in our employees who provide that service,” says Gerry Benusa, enterprise chief people officer.

“Offering competitive wages not only helps ensure we attract and retain customer-focused employees, it also allows them to invest in their careers, dreams and communities.”

The increase will impact employees in a variety of roles and areas, including customer service, claims, administrative and others.

Gryphon Investors buys Ncontracts

Ncontracts, based in Nashville, has been acquired by Gryphon Investors, a San Francisco-based middle-market private equity firm. Terms were not disclosed.

The deal marks Gryphon’s second investment in governance, risk and compliance enterprise software solutions, following the firm’s December 2018 investment in RegEd, also a provider of GRC solutions for the financial services industry. Ncontracts is a provider of integrated risk management software and services for the financial services industry.

Ncontracts was founded by CEO Michael Berman in 2009 to offer enterprise risk management software tailor-made for the financial services industry.

The company’s expanded product line now includes a comprehensive set of risk management tools encompassing compliance, vendor management and enterprise risk management.

The company has more than 1,300 customers across the United States, and in 2019 was named to the Inc. 5000, Inc. Magazine’s annual listing of America’s fastest-growing private companies.

As part of the transaction, three Gryphon executives – Nick Orum, president and co-head of the Software Group, Carl Theobald, software operating partner, and Jon Cheek, software principal – will join the Ncontracts board of directors. Berman will remain CEO of the company.

Covenant Surgical Partners rebrands, adds to network

Nashville’s Covenant Surgical Partners is now Covenant Physician Partners.

The company also announced it has completed its partnership with Texas Eye Care Network.

Backed by KKR, a global investment firm and health services investor, Covenant is a growing national network of leading physician practices across the outpatient care continuum through more than 60 physician partnerships spanning 19 states.

With an annual growth rate of 20% during the last five years, Covenant has experienced a tremendous increase to their national footprint and is poised for even further expansion.

Covenant’s shift in brand elevates the company’s focus on physicians and speaks to the changing needs of physicians in a rapidly evolving health care landscape.

Covenant has evolved its business model to further the company as a forward-looking partner with strong operational and financial expertise.

This new model helps leading physicians navigate health care’s increasing complexities, grow their practices and strengthen their position for long-term success in a rapidly changing industry.

TERRA adds clients in Northwest

Far West Metals has joined Nashville-based TERRA to provide electronics recycling options for residents and businesses of Oregon and Washington.

By joining TERRA and sponsoring its mail-in recycling program Done with information technology,

FWM will help drive awareness about the negative environmental and health effects of electronic waste (e-waste) and provide access to sustainable recycling that includes data destruction services to more than 11.6 million residents in 74 counties from their Certified R2 recycling facility in Tualatin, Oregon.

With FWM, the company now serves more than 236 million people in 41 states and the District of Columbia with its network of 11 certified facilities.

“Only certified recyclers with either an R2 or e-Stewards certification like FWM can be trusted to securely and sustainably process used electronics,” says Steven Napoli, President & CEO of TERRA. “They adhere to rigorous standards and make continuous investments in best-practices to mitigate the dangers to human health and the environment associated with the improper disposal of e-waste.”

It is estimated that recycling 1 million laptops saves the equivalent electricity used in more than 3,500 homes per year.

Built Technologies acquires lienwaivers.io

Nashville’s Built Technologies has bought lienwaivers.io, an Iowa company that develops lien waiver management and payment technology in the commercial and residential construction industry.

Built, used by more than 100 construction lenders and thousands of contractors, provides construction finance software, is working to expand its services with its Built for Contractors unit.

CEO Geoff Arnold will guide the division, focusing on developing technology to help commercial real estate owners, commercial general contractors, residential homebuilders, specialty contractors, title companies and lenders manage the construction payment process.

The lienwaivers.io platform will be named “Lienwaivers powered by Built.”

Ponder & Co. No. 1 in health care debt advising

Brentwood-based Ponder & Co., a health care financial advisory firm, has been ranked as the No. 1 financial adviser in new health care debt issuance for the second consecutive year and the 20th time in the last 35 years, dating back to when Thomson Reuters’ began ranking municipal advisers in 1985.

Ponder was founded in 1975 and has advised on more than 3,000 transactions valued at nearly $190 billion during that time.

With interest rates declining significantly over the course of 2019, many health care borrowers took advantage of an attractive market to finance their capital projects and refinance existing debt.

Ponder advised on 61 issues with a total par value of $8.7 billion, ranging in size from $5 million to more than $1 billion.

Ponder delivers advisory services to a wide range of clients, including multistate health systems, single state health systems, standalone hospitals and specialty hospitals.

Ponder has also had the opportunity assist several Continuing Care Retirement Communities during the past five years, including in 2019.

Advanced to provide technology for GNTC

Nashville-based Advanced Network Solutions has announced the company is now the information technology provider of the Greater Nashville Technology Council.

Advanced will provide technical support to the council staff and users of NTC’s Tech Hill Commons venue on the Nolensville Corridor.

Advanced has served the Nashville area and surrounding states as a technology partner since 1997, providing results by understanding of each business, then providing strategic information technology planning and technology management.

The company maintains a SOC 2, Type II designation, a differentiator in working with clients in highly-regulated industries such as banking, health care, legal, nonprofit and other sectors.

Minth Group to add jobs in Lewisburg

Minth Group, an automotive supplier, will expand its operations in Lewisburg with a plan to create 254 jobs and invest $87 million in Marshall County during the next five years.

Based in China, Minth is a leading designer and manufacturer of structural body, trim and decorative parts for the automotive industry. Internationally, Minth has 40 production plants that support automotive markets in 29 different countries.

The company supplies many world-renowned international automakers and together, Minth customers represent 80% of the total global auto market share.

Minth will construct an additional 236,000-square-foot facility on the company’s Lewisburg property for production of injection-molded, painted and chrome-plated plastic components to be supplied to automotive OEMs. The facility is set to be completed by 2021.

Applications open for BlueCross scholarships

Eligible Tennessee students can now apply for a $10,000 BlueCross Power of We Scholarship to help them prepare for careers in health care.

Applications must be in by Feb. 21 to be considered for the BlueCross Power of We Scholarship, the link: http://bcbstnews.com/scholarship/.

The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation, in collaboration with the NAHSE Memphis Chapter, will award three recipients $10,000 each in scholarship funds for their extraordinary achievements in community service, leadership and academics.

Since 2013, the BlueCross Foundation has helped dozens of diverse students continue their undergraduate studies in nursing, medical technology, pharmacy and more by investing over $100,000 in scholarship funds.

“We want Tennessee’s health care workforce to reflect the diversity of our neighbors – because we know cultural competency can have an impact on health outcomes,” says Ron Harris, vice president of diversity and inclusion for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.

The BlueCross Power of We Scholarship is awarded to outstanding minority students who are Tennessee residents studying at an in-state college or university.

The scholarship program strives to develop a more diverse and inclusive workforce and empowers students to pursue their dreams in the health care field.

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