published Sunday, May 13th, 2012

Business Briefcase: Clearer zones urged for Hamilton County schools

Clearer zones urged for schools

Chattanooga Realtors last week urged Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rick Smith to better define current and future school zones to help prospective home buyers make purchasing decisions.

Mark Hite, president of the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors, said the school board needs to make a decision on changes in school boundaries to limit uncertainty about which properties are in what school zone.

"New homebuyers rely heavily on school zones when making decisions on where their family live," Hite said. "The sooner these decisions are make, the sooner we can have answers to our clients and newcomers to the greater Chattanooga area."

Smith acknowledged the need for such clarity.

"We un-derstand that decisions need to be made on zoning so that new construction and home prices can stabilize in certain areas of Hamilton County, and we are continuing to work on this issue."

TVA could get fuel from pact

The Energy Northwest executive board in Richland, Wash., voted last week to spend $711 million to buy nuclear fuel it plans to sell to the Tennessee Valley Authority for $731 million -- and still have some left for its own use from 2021 to 2028 to supply its plant near Richland.

The Tri-City Herald newspaper in Richland said the proposed deal has some risk, but Energy Northwest believes it is in a unique position to get a below-market price for the fuel.

Energy Northwest has no immediate need for the fuel. But the arrangement could help stabilize fuel prices and save ratepayers from tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars through 2028, the newspaper said.

The U.S. Department of Energy approached Energy Northwest about the deal, said executive board Chairman Sid Morrison. Energy Secretary Steven Chu plans to defend it vigorously, Atkinson said.

The purchase is contingent on TVA agreeing to the deal to supply fuel for its seven nuclear power reactors.

DOE proposed the deal to help keep a gaseous diffusion plant in Paducah, Ky., operating. The Paducah gaseous diffusion plant, owned by DOE and operated by U.S. Enrichment Corp., enriches uranium to produce a product that can be fabricated into fuel for use in nuclear power plants.

Instead of using newly mined uranium, DOE's leftover depleted uranium, also known as "tails," would be used for the Energy Northwest fuel.

Trade mission set for Mexico

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development announced last week that it will lead its next trade mission to Mexico City from July 17 to July 20 to focus on Tennessee's automotive manufacturers.

The trip is part of the recently announced TNTrade, the state's initiative designed to help boost exports by Tennessee's small- and medium-sized businesses.

"Fewer than 2 percent of Tennessee companies are exporting, and we are working to increase that statistic," said Bill Hagerty, commissioner of economic and community development for Tennessee. "The Mexico trade mission will provide an excellent opportunity for Tennessee automotive companies to form new relationships and begin or grow their export efforts."

Participants will attend the PAACE Automechanika 2012 trade show -- Mexico and Central America's most well-known automotive trade show.

Applications are due June 1 and are available at tn.gov/ecd/tntrade/trademission.

about Dave Flessner...

Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...

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