Nike Inc. is moving forward with expansion plans for its North Memphis facility with a 200-acre, $2.2 million land purchase from Belz Investco GP, Memphis Daily News reports. The Beaverton, Ore.-based company bought the land located north of its 1.1 million-square-foot facility in Belz's Northridge Industrial Park. The sale closed Jan. 24, according to the report. Nike (NYSE: NKE) is expanding its Memphis distribution operation and in October received a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes incentive from the Memphis and Shelby County Economic Development Growth Engine for the project. The sports retail giant will add 250 jobs and about 1.8 million square feet to its existing operation in Frayser.
GREENWOOD, Miss. — Viking Range Corp.'s new owner is laying off one-fifth of the company's workers. Middleby Corp, based near Chicago, said it laid off about 140 of Viking's 700 employees Thursday. Also, Viking founder and Chief Executive Officer Fred Carl Jr. announced his retirement. Carl had earlier said that he probably would lead the company for several more years and cited Middleby's pattern of leaving managers in place after buying companies. Layoffs are effective immediately, with a majority in Viking's hometown of Greenwood. Spokeswoman Darcy Bretz said she doesn't know if fired workers are receiving severance pay. Viking also said it will close cooking schools in Memphis and Ridgeland, Miss. The Memphis school, located at 1215 Ridgeway, opened in 2006. It's still offering classes through March. Middleby announced Dec. 31 that it was buying Viking for $380 million from shareholders including Carl and Arkansas' Stephens family. Bretz said the layoffs were spread across the company but were heavier in some departments. She offered no explanation for Carl's resignation. Carl and Viking have worked to revitalize Greenwood's downtown, including the Alluvian Hotel and a cooking school there. Those operations will stay open.
The number of building permits issued in DeSoto County in 2012 grew by more than 60 percent over the previous year, and that's good news for growth in the year ahead, DeSoto County Director of Planning Ted Garrod told DeSoto County Supervisors on Tuesday. "We project it will be a banner year," Garrod said. "We're looking forward to a continuation of that trend in 2013." Garrod said there were a total of 730 single family residential permits issued in 2012 compared to 456 in 2011. Garrod said there were 48 issued in the month of December alone. Unincorporated DeSoto County recorded the most building permits with 229. Southaven led all cities with a total of 214 permits, followed by Olive Branch with 138 and Hernando with 122. Horn Lake recorded 21 and Walls issued six building permits for single family home construction. DeSoto County Planning officials said it's unlikely DeSoto will ever see again the flurry of building activity which the region saw during the boom years of home construction. The high watermark for home construction was in 2005 when there were a total of 2,802 building permits issued. In 2008, after the effects of the Great Recession, building permits dropped off significantly and have only recently begun to rebound. Board of Supervisors President Mark Gardner welcomed the good news. "I think that's a very encouraging sign," Gardner said. "People are still definitely wanting to come to DeSoto County." DeSoto County Administrator Vanessa Lynchard agreed. "There are so many contributing factors," Lynchard said. "It's our economy, our good schools, our overall quality of life."
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