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VOL. 45 | NO. 5 | Friday, January 29, 2021

HCA, new partner to produce PPE

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Nashville’s HCA Healthcare has announced it has entered into a new joint venture business with A Plus International Inc. to expand access to personal protective equipment by manufacturing surgical and procedure masks in the United States.

Under the partnership, production of Level 1 and 3 masks meeting American Society for Testing and Materials standards for quality and safety is expected to begin in early 2021 in Asheville, North Carolina.

Investment in the new business entity will initially be funded equally by HCA Healthcare Mission Fund, LLC, an affiliate of HCA Healthcare, and A Plus. The new business entity is part of HCA Healthcare’s continued effort to support health care workers and address the global demand for PPE. HCA Healthcare’s 2020 spending for PPE increased by more than $196 million from 2019.

HCA Healthcare’s investment in the business is being funded through the HCA Healthcare Mission Fund, an innovation fund created following HCA Healthcare’s purchase of Mission Health to support healthcare-related businesses in Western North Carolina.

The new business’ headquarters and production facility will be located on one of Mission Health’s campuses in Asheville and will bring skilled jobs to the area.

Meharry receives gift of thermal cameras

Infrared Cameras, Inc., a provider of advanced biorisk management technology, and its CEO, Gary Strahan, have donated 150 thermal camera systems – a $1.5 million market value – to Nashville’s Meharry Medical College.

Meharry Medical College has been at the forefront of treatment, vaccine research and testing for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic. The cameras will be used by Meharry throughout the Metro Nashville public school system to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

ICI’s cameras are easy to operate and understand, using a basic red/green light (pass/fail) indicator system. This fast, reliable and easy-to-use temperature screening solution can scan hundreds of students and staff every day.

The ability to quickly identify someone with a 100.4+ degree temperature helps slow the spread of COVID-19.

Survey: Nashville remains a hot housing market

A Zillow survey predicts Austin will outperform the national housing market in 2021, followed by Phoenix, Nashville, Tampa and Denver.

The survey of economists and real estate experts states Nashville is seen as a relatively affordable metro areas most likely to outperform the nation in home value growth.

In the survey, 84% said Austin values would outperform the national average, compared to just 9% who believe it would fare worse. Phoenix came in second with 69%, followed by Nashville (67%), Tampa (60%), and Denver (56%).

The top-five metros are all affordable options compared to expensive coastal areas that have led home appreciation ranks in recent years, providing relative value for millennials looking to take advantage of low mortgage rates to buy their first home.

Skiptown headed to Nashville in 2022

Skiptown, the tech-enabled hub for pups and their people, will open a location in Nashville by the end of 2022.

Skiptown has secured thousands of members since opening the first location in Charlotte, North Carolina, just five months ago in the midst of the global pandemic.

Skiptown offers an indoor/outdoor turfed dog park, a bar for humans, dog day care, overnight boarding, a grooming salon and dog walking services. From valet day care drop-off to “Skippers” who monitor the pups at play, Skiptown’s dog-focused design and high-end hangout is about giving peace of mind to pet parents and joy to their four-legged family members.

Skiptown’s proprietary technology platform streamlines booking and account management, sends multiple daily visit reports, pairs dogs to playgroups based on personality type, and allows for a fully customized experience for every dog.

Backed by private investors and high-profile venture capital firms, including Techstars Ventures, Bull Creek Capital and Firebrand Ventures, Skiptown is poised for growth, especially in light of the anticipated, post-COVID surge in demand for convenience-driven pet care and high-end hangouts.

FirstBank Investment, Raymond James partner

FirstBank Investment Partners is now affiliated with Raymond James Financial Institutions Division. As a result, FirstBank’s investment program will now offer investment and wealth management services to its clients through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC.

The bank’s investment division was previously affiliated with LPL Financial and made the switch after merging last fall with Franklin Synergy Bank, which had a longstanding partnership with Raymond James.

“The FirstBank Investment Partners team has always been dedicated to helping our customers make sound, strategic financial decisions and build a better future,” said Tripp Thompson, president of FirstBank Investment Partners.

“The partnership with Raymond James will further our ability to provide innovative financial solutions, as well as advanced technology, tools and resources that will continue to ensure an outstanding service experience.”

Thompson oversees the new combined investments team that includes 22 advisers, 10 support staff and a branch manager, managing a combined $1.2 billion in client assets.

Bennett & Pless announces merger

Bennett & Pless, with offices in Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga, is merging with LHC Structural Engineers, a North Carolina company.

Combined, the firms encompass eight offices throughout the Southeast, providing high-level structural engineering services across the nation and internationally.

The merger creates a partnership expanding their design capabilities in the K-12 schools, higher education, life sciences, central utilities and athletic facilities market sectors.

Founded in Atlanta, Georgia, Bennett & Pless is an award-winning structural engineering firm providing an array of traditional and specialty consulting services.

Niche markets include data centers, adaptive reuse, wireless and sign structures, manufacturing and energy storage.

ICON announces research expansion

ICON Clinical Research, Inc. is expanding its Brentwood research operations.

The project will create 85 new, high-paying jobs in Davidson County over the next five years.

ICON is a global provider of outsourced development services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries. It currently has 369 employees in Tennessee and more than 15,250 employees worldwide.

ICON is adding research managers, product managers and research coordinators for contracts within the oncology, cardiovascular and CNS space. In addition to hiring, ICON will invest in available office space and software and research equipment.

“ICON is pleased to announce the addition of 85 high-quality jobs to our operations in Brentwood,’’ says David Cahill, vice president, facilities, ICON Clinical Research.

Direct Auto launches optimistic ad campaign

Nashville-based Direct Auto Insurance has unveiled a new advertising campaign.

The campaign celebrates the power of optimism and debuts a new tagline, “Keep Driving” that supports the brand’s commitment to giving customers the power to go, do, and make it happen with the auto insurance they need.

The ads, which share vignettes of people building resilience in the face of challenge, display powerful, everyday stories of success achieved through optimism and determination, and sets a positive tone.

“Unveiling our new tagline with this new marketing campaign is the perfect pairing,” says Josh Jarrett, SVP marketing for Direct Auto. “Together, they share an optimistic message that embraces resilience as we all look to turn the year around.”

Change study: AI key to health care future

Nashville’s Change Healthcare has commissioned a study of health care executives concerning their knowledge of and familiarity with artificial intelligence.

Findings are detailed in “Poised to Transform: AI in the Revenue Cycle,’’ a national study of 200 revenue cycle, information technology, finance and C-suite decision makers. The study was conducted by market researcher ENGINE Insights.

The report shows AI set to transform the way doctors, hospitals and health care systems identify, collect, and manage their revenue cycle over the next three years as health care organizations evolve from day-to-day use to strategic integration within their systems.

Two-thirds of hospital and health system executives report using AI in some revenue cycle capacity and nearly all expect to be using it within three years. However, familiarity with AI and its impact varies wildly among executives, IT, and revenue cycle leadership and there are budgetary, security, privacy, and accuracy concerns complicating AI adoption.

Audi Q-series line will ride on Hankook tires

Hankook Tire, headquartered in Nashville, has announced it is equipping the new Audi RS Q8 with its tires as original equipment.

The German car manufacturer’s Q-series is characterized by progressive design and pioneering technology. The Audi Sport vehicle demonstrates the sporting potential of this series with power rating of 591 horsepower / 590ft-lbs torque, accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds.

Hankook Tire is supplying the new Audi RS Q8 with its premium UHP winter and summer tires.

Novatech network adds San Antonio

Nashville-based Novatech, a managed office provider, is expanding to San Antonio.

“The expansion into San Antonio supports our nationwide growth goals and business roadmap for 2021” says Dan Cooper, Novatech’s CEO.

“This strategic move emphasizes our focus and commitment to the Texas market” adds David Coffman, marketplace vice president-West. “As one of the fastest growing states in the country, we want to ensure ample coverage for our clients and also leverage the incredible talent pool of tech professionals as we augment our local team.”

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