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VOL. 42 | NO. 2 | Friday, January 12, 2018

DOE lays off more 100 employees at Oak Ridge

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OAK RIDGE (AP) – The U.S. Department of Energy’s largest science and energy laboratory is laying off 100 employees in Tennessee.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports these layoffs at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory follow a voluntary reduction of 232 employees.

The cuts focus on areas affected by the 2017 budget reductions, including climate change research for the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center and fusion energy research.

However, ORNL spokesman David Keim said this round of reductions will mostly focus on overhead positions not funded by the Department of Energy, Homeland Security or through other government and university partnerships, but he couldn’t say for certain which programs would be impacted.

Terminated employees will be notified of their status by mid-February.

Parton removes ‘Dixie’ from Stampede show

PIGEON FORGE (AP) – Country singer Dolly Parton has discarded “Dixie” from the name of a popular dinner show. From now on, the attraction will simply be known as Dolly Parton’s Stampede.

Parton said in a statement that the name change was spurred by changing attitudes and “will remove any confusion or concerns about our shows” as the company that operates the attraction expands into new markets. World Choice Investments LLC currently operates the Stampede dinner show for Parton in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and Branson, Missouri.

World Choice CEO Jim Rule said the company continually listens to guests and its desire to expand and stay relevant led to a decision to simplify the show’s name.

Boyd Center: economies will grow in 2018

The University of Tennessee’s Knoxville’s Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research has released its 2018 Economic Report to the governor, predicting continuing growth in the state and for the U.S. for the new year.

“The economy is on a roll, and growth should continue into 2018 and beyond,” says Matt Murray, associate director of the center and project director.

He noted that the current growth cycle is the third-longest expansion since World War II and marks the eighth year of recovery since the Great Recession.

“At this point in the business cycle, we expect to see the pace of expansion slow, with slower employment gains and little further improvement in the unemployment rate,” he adds. “Ultimately growth will slow because the economy has restored most activity to very high levels.”

According to the report, consumer spending will continue to be the backbone of economic growth in the U.S., with growth of about 2.5 percent expected in 2018 in response to a low unemployment rate and ongoing job gains.

Business investment, in equipment and computer hardware and software, is expected to show modest growth. The nation’s housing market will continue its slow growth in 2018, at only 2.3 percent. Improvement is expected in 2019, with the report predicting 6.1 percent growth.

Other highlights from the report include:

-- The Federal Reserve, which hiked interest rates as recently as Dec. 13, will continue to raise rates in 2018 and 2019. Inflation is expected to remain in check.

-- Tennessee is projected to see more job growth in both 2018 and 2019, with 1.4 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively. Job growth will slow because of the low unemployment rate and a shrinking pool of available workers.

-- The state’s unemployment rate will average 3.1 percent in 2018 and 2019, well below the rate of unemployment for the nation of 3.9 percent and 3.8 percent.

-- Job gains in the state’s manufacturing sector are expected to weaken but remain in the black.

Summit expects December opening

Summit Medical Group and Summit Strategic Solutions’s new facility at the Middlebrook Pike medical corridor in Knoxville is now under construction and expected to be completed by December 2018.

The two-story, 50,000-square-foot building project is being constructed on an 8-acre site at 1275 Dick Lonas Road.

The new facility will be built to suit the current corporate office needs of both Summit Strategic and Summit Medical, as well as accommodate future growth. The construction project was initiated by Healthcaring Ventures, the parent company of Summit Strategic Solutions.

HCV is the holding company launched by Summit Medical Group in 2015 for the identification and implementation of new investment and partnership opportunities. HCV recently has formed a new series LLC company, HCV Realty Investment, to head the development of future realty investment projects.

Summit Medical Group is the largest primary care group in East Tennessee, serving more than 260,000 patients and averaging over one million encounters annually. Summit Strategic Solutions provides managed services, value-based care solutions and other support to physician practices, including Summit Medical Group, as well as health insurance plans and self-insured employers.

Organizations recognize UT achievements

The University of Tennessee has announced awards and honors given at the end of the year from outside sources.

The campus received a Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Already named the top consumer of green power in academia, UT is the only school in the Southeast to win the award.

The UT chapter of the Society of Women Engineers was awarded the SWE Mission Award Silver. These awards recognize SWE groups that embody the organization’s core values and demonstrate continuous improvement and growth toward strategic goals.

UT’s Stormwater Management Office has been recognized as Organization of the Year by the Tennessee Stormwater Association. Selected from more than 100 organizations, UT was honored for its efforts to incorporate effective and inventive stormwater management strategies into every construction project on campus.

WUOT, the public radio station licensed to UT, has received its first international award, for its TruckBeat project. The work won the top award in topical reporting in the small newsroom category in a contest sponsored by the Online News Association Conference, the world’s largest association of digital journalists.

Firm to buy rebar assets for $600M

Commercial Metals Company announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire certain U.S. rebar steel mill and fabrication assets from Gerdau S.A. for a cash purchase price of $600 million, subject to customary purchase price adjustments.

The acquisition includes 33 rebar fabrication facilities in the United States, including at the steel mill in Knoxville, as well as Jacksonville, Sayreville, New Jersey, and Rancho Cucamonga, California.

Upon completion of the acquisition, CMC will have an expanded geographic footprint in the largest construction regions in the U.S.

The acquisition will increase CMC’s annual rebar and fabrication capacity and allow for the more efficient utilization of its asset base to better serve customers. After adding the incremental 2.7 million tons of melt capacity, CMC will have approximately 7.2 million tons of global melt capacity at the close of the transaction.

The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of both Commercial Metals Company and Gerdau S.A. The closing of the transaction, which is expected to close before calendar year-end 2018, is subject to the satisfaction or waiver of customary closing conditions, including customary regulatory review.

Leadership Oak Ridge honors late pediatrician

The 2017 Class of Leadership Oak Ridge dedicated its garden project at Emory Valley Center in the memory of Dr. Gene Caldwell.

Caldwell was a local pediatrician and citizen of Oak Ridge who helped raise the funds for Emory Valley Center’s new location. He passed away in March 2017, just before the new center was set to open.

Since early spring, the Leadership class worked to develop and execute a plan for the garden.

“I’m incredibly proud of what the 2017 Leadership Oak Ridge class has been able to accomplish,” says Dionne Harper, Leadership Oak Ridge project manager.

“We set a significant goal and far exceeded our own expectations in creating something meaningful and beautiful for Emory

“Valley Center and the Caldwell family. This project has certainly left a lasting impression on each one of us. We’d like to thank everyone who helped make it happen.”

Emory Valley Center is a non-profit agency that has been serving children and adults with disabilities in the East Tennessee area for more than 60 years. Emory Valley Center’s new facility is located at 715 Emory Valley Road.

Pellissippi offers sterile processing training

Pellissippi State’s Business and Community Services developed this program in cooperation with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Tennova Healthcare and the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

New employees hired as central sterile processing technicians within the state must complete training such as this course within two years of the initial hire. Pellissippi State’s course is the only in-person course in East Tennessee.

“This course will be an immersive experience. It will partner students with a local healthcare facility and give hands-on experience with the central sterile processing technology and equipment,” Reist-Connor says.

Students who complete the 14-week course, which is offered on Sundays, 2-5 p.m., must also complete 400 hours of job shadowing at an area hospital. Students who take the course are not certified until they successfully complete the examination and job shadowing.

County takes winter seriously

Knox County has already experienced the first blast of wintery ready and is prepared for whatever comes next.

The county’s Engineering and Public Works’ Highway Department has 14 trucks with brine spreaders that can be switched to spread granular road salt this winter.

The county also has 17 four-wheel-drive trucks that can be equipped with smaller snow plows for use on more narrow roads and has approximately 4,000 tons of road salt, 30,000 gallons of salt brine and 5,000 gallons of calcium chloride.

Salt brine is a mixture of salt and water that is applied to roadways to stop snow from sticking to pavements.

The brine system allows Knox County’s Highway Department to pre-treat 1,392 lane miles of primary and secondary roads, and other known trouble spots, ahead of a winter storm.