Business Briefcase: UTC places 2nd in TVA investments

Business Briefcase: UTC places 2nd in TVA investments

April 22nd, 2012 by Carey O'Neil in Business Around the Region

UTC places 2nd in TVA investments

A team of business students at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga placed second among 25 colleges participating in the Tennessee Valley Authority's Investment Challenge Program.

The investments by the UTC team, which earned 6.81 percent in 2011, trailed only the 14.94 percent return earned by the Mississippi University for Women among 25 colleges making the investments for part of a TVA fund.

Eleven of the 25 universities beat the 2.11 percent gain for 2011 by Standard & Poor's 500 Index, a key Wall Street barometer. Combined, the students had a 0.2 percent return on investment for the volatile year.

The Investment Challenge provides students with hands-on experience managing a real stock portfolio for TVA. Last year, teams of students managed an average of $365,000 of TVA funds per school, by designing long-term investment strategies under the guidance of faculty members. The universities operate under similar guidelines as TVA's own professional investment managers.

"The TVA Investment Challenge is a creative use of our resources that offers experience and training for the region's next generation of financial leaders, while also benefiting TVA," TVA Treasurer John Hoskins said in a statement.

The colleges collectively invest about $10 million, or 1 percent, of TVA's $1 billion Nuclear Decommissioning Trust Fund, which is dedicated to paying the costs of retiring TVA nuclear plants.

TVA provided $1.9 million from the trust to start the program in 1998. In 2003, after the program demonstrated that student-managed portfolios performed competitively against their performance benchmark, TVA provided an additional $8 million.

"This is real money that we'll use one day to decommission our nuclear plants," Hoskins said. "These students are part of TVA's financial success and are making an important contribution to meeting our future commitments."

TVA awarded more than $26,000 in prizes to universities in 2011.

Twoxfour brings PR to the bar

A Chicago-based advertising agency officially opened its doors Friday morning.

Twoxfour's Warehouse Row space has no cubicles or offices, opting instead for open, collaborative workspaces.

The third-floor office also has a kitchen and bar, where employees and clients alike can socialize after work.

"If you can't have a drink, share a meal, you probably shouldn't be working together," said Jessica Montrie, Twoxfour's group account director. "It's about being able to have these moments where you don't get along but still are able to work together."

Twoxfour will directly compete with established agencies such as The Johnson Group. But David Stevenson, president of the company, said local agencies have a congenial relationship with one another.

Twoxfour has 30 employees, five of whom are local. Mark Jacobus, head of the local office, expects to expand quickly in Chattanooga.

"We opened up, and it's been gangbusters really from day one," he said.

Technology summit heads to Kentucky

The Tennessee Valley Corridor will move outside its home in Tennessee and Alabama next month for its annual technology summit when top business, academic and government leaders gather May 23-24 at the Center for Rural Development in Somerset, Ky.

The meeting will be in the congressional district of U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Former Chattanooga Congressman Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., helped launch the Tennessee Valley Corridor in the 1990s to link the rocket building technologies in Huntsville, Ala., with the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and other federal agencies, including the Tennessee Valley Authority. The corridor has since expanded into Kentucky and Virginia.

At the Corridor's 2012 National Technology Summit in Kentucky, presenters will include ORNL President Thom Mason, University of Tennessee President Joe DePietro, Kentucky Energy and Environment Secretary Anthony Cugini, East Tennessee State University President Brian Noland and National Institute for Hometown Security Director Ewell Balltrip, among others.

Information is available at http://www.tennvalley corridor.org.

BlueCross launches exchange website

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee on Friday launched a website to educate Tennessee consumers on the new health insurance exchanges to be established under the federal health care reform, assuming the reforms are not overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The website at www. BCBSTexchange.com has pages geared toward individuals, employers, health care providers and insurance brokers to help them understand the new online marketplace for consumers to compare and apply for health coverage.

"Open enrollment for coverage on the exchange is October, 2013, so people are starting to ask, what is the exchange, how does it work and how does it affect me," said Michael Eiselstein, BlueCross' director of individual products. "This web- site has information about eligibility for coverage, premium subsidies, Medicaid expansion and much more."