Edwards moves to North Shore

Edwards moves to North Shore

April 29th, 2012 by Ellis Smith, Carey O'Neil and Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

Edwards moves to North Shore

The head of Benjamin F. Edwards & Co., Tad Edwards, cuts a dashing figure.

Edwards is the sixth in a line of stockbrokers tracing their heritage back to President Abraham Lincoln's Treasury Departmt, and has recently separated from Wachovia Securities to restart the firm founded in 1887 by the first Benjamin Edwards in St. Louis.

Edwards' Chattanooga branch, the firm's 17th since 2008, on Thursday celebrated its grand opening in the top floor of The Terrace at Frazier.

Though the recession has fundamentally changed investing, he said, the Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. has found a niche with clients who are looking for an independent broker to take care of their wealth.

"Years ago, the big question in our industry was 'What's the market doing today?'" Edwards said. "Now, it's 'What is the plan for your life?' That's the fun of it."

Ward Petty, manager of the six-broker Chattanooga branch, said the family- and employee-owned business doesn't require a minimum investment from clients, and doesn't push its accounts toward proprietary securities.

Petty, like Edwards, worked at A.G. Edwards through Wachovia's acquisition of the company in 2006. Wells Fargo then bought Wachovia in a contentious deal at the height of the recession-induced market panic of 2008, and Edwards left a year later to restart the family business.

The firm has opened 23 locations since 2009.

EPB speeds power recovery

When Chattanooga's Electric Power Board began operations in 1939, customers in rural Hinkle, Ga., didn't have telephones and would alert EPB of any power outages by dropping a post card in the mail.

Within a few days, electric crews would be dispatched to restore power, EPB President Harold DePriest said.

Today, DePriest said customers demand continuous power delivery without any interruptions.

"We recently had an industrial customer complain because he had a voltage drop to 70 percent of normal for 1/60th of a second," DePriest told a luncheon gathering of community leaders last week. "We've gone from post cards to equipment that detects even millisecond interruptions."

DePriest said he recalls getting a call from a DuPont plant manager telling him that a power outage had interrupted nylon production.

"He told me, 'You just cost me $175,000,'" DePriest recalled. "Those are the types of calls you don't want to get."

EPB completed installation of Intellirupters throughout its power grid last week to help limit power outages and boost reliability. The equipment is part of EPB's $220 million fiber optic network and smart grid - the most advanced of any utility of its size in the United States.

The smart grid should not only boost power reliability but give consumers instantaneous access to information about their power usage.

"The real value of the smart meter is what it offers smart people who can take that data and figure out how to best use it," DePriest said.

IRS offers free help until May 31

Federally-trained tax preparers will offer free personal income tax preparations for area residents until May 31.

The federal tax filing deadline was pushed back until the end of May for every county declared a disaster zone due to this year's storms. Those counties include Hamilton, Bradley, DeKalb, Polk, McMinn, Monroe, Overton, Claiborne and Cumberland.

Tax preparation help is offered by appointment at Lee University and the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga. For an appointment at Lee, contact Greg Della Franco at 423-614-8667 or gdellafranco@leeuniversityt.edu. For the Urban League, contact Keesha Marshall at 423-756-7162 or kmarshall@ul.chatt.net.

Firm offered $210 million

A medical and biotechnology firm could get more than $210 million in incentives for building a new facility about 40 miles east of Atlanta.

Baxter International Inc. could receive the incentives from state and local governments for the bio-pharmaceutical manufacturing facility, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Gov. Nathan Deal announced last week that Georgia landed the high-tech factory.

Initially, the state Department of Economic Development estimated the state would give the company $80 million in incentives. Alison Tyrer, the department's spokeswoman, says she based the original estimate on incentives that were specially crafted for Baxter and job tax credits.

Tyrer didn't include breaks and incentives every company can take advantage of, such as Baxter's estimated $1.3 million in energy sales tax exemptions, or items such as $14 million training facility the state will build on Baxter's site near Covington, which the state will own and potentially use for other training.

The biggest chunk not included in the estimate was the $107 million-plus from local tax breaks and exemptions.

"That takes my breath away," said Morgan County Commission Chairwoman Ellen Warren on adding up the state's cost.

Baxter, a Deerfield, Ill.-based company. is expected to employ 1,500 people when it is operational in 2018.