Business Briefcase: Local food trucks head to Knoxville

Business Briefcase: Local food trucks head to Knoxville

July 8th, 2012 by Dave Flessner in Business Diary

Local food trucks head to Knoxville

The Food Network and the Cooking Channel may help millions of Americans prepare their food, but for the next three months some of the food that feeds many of the network's 900 employees in Knoxville will come from Chattanooga food trucks.

The headquarters of Scripps Networks Interactive is rebuilding its Food Network kitchen by October. In the meantime, Scripps is using a half dozen food trucks, including at least four from Chattanooga, to feed its employees.

"We'll be their cafeteria for a week," Whit Altizer, owner of the Korean taco food truck Taco Sherpa, told the Knoxville News-Sentinel. "It could be the biggest thing we've done so far."

Taco Sherpa has operated in downtown Chattanooga, where the business has been based since April.

"We would love to be able to feed an office complex like that in Chattanooga," Altizer said.

Other Chattanooga food trucks serving Scripps Networks this summer include Southern Burger Co., Taste of Argentina and Famous Nater's.

Air wars attack, praise Alexander

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., was blasted in television ads last month for supporting "Obama's war on coal" and refusing to support a Republican effort to overturn stricter EPA regulations of coal plants.

But last week, an environmental group began airing other TV commercials thanking Alexander for supporting EPA-ordered controls on mercury and smog emissions from coal-fired power plants.

In June, American Commitment, a newly formed political action committee created to oppose EPA's new rules on coal, accused Alexander of supporting regulations the group claims will raise electricity prices and cost Tennessee jobs. Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment, said the group spent $400,000 on the ads criticizing Alexander's vote not to support overriding new EPA regulations on coal.

But in response last week, the Environmental Defense Fund put together a 30-second TV spot thanking Alexander for supporting the mercury-reduction measure.

"We realize he's a small-government conservative who won't always be with us, but on this vote [mercury pollution] he did the un-Washington thing of putting partisan politics aside and we wanted to recognize that," EDF spokesman Keith Gaby told the Nashville Tennessean newspaper.

Alexander said the Tennessee Valley Authority has already agreed to install coal scrubbers and selective catalytic converter devices on its remaining coal plants and he wants utilities elsewhere to do the same to avoid pollution blowing into the Tennessee Valley.

BlueCross wins stewardship award

For the second time in three years, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has won the Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award.

The 2012 award recognizes BlueCross' renovation of its Golden Gateway building in downtown Chattanooga. Last year, BlueCross renovated the 46-year-old Gateway building to improve its environmental impact and sustainability.

Dan Jacobson, vice president of properties and corporate services for the Chattanooga-based health insurer, said BlueCross wants to show that "good environmental practices also make good business practices.

"The Gateway project proves that older buildings do not have to be environmentally unfriendly ones," Jacobson said.

The building includes a photovoltaic solar array capable of generating nearly 200 kilowatts that offsets 40 percent of the building's energy use.

Blue-Cross also installed six bioswales, or natural underground filters, to collect stormwater runoff and filter up to 100 percent of pollutants before they can reach the Tennessee River. Within the building, low-flow water features cut consumption 35 percent and exterior induction lighting reduces usage by 80 watts per fixture.

The renovations were completed while re-using 96 percent of the building's walls, floors and roof. More than 57 percent of the interior elements were also re-used, reducing debris that would otherwise be deposited in landfills.

Anthony to head local AGA chapter

Suzy Anthony, a certified public accountant and audit manager for the Chattanooga CPA firm of Hazlett, Lewis & Bieter, PLLC, is the new president of the Chattanooga area chapter of the Association of Government Accountants.

Other board members of the Chattanooga AGA Chapter for 2012-13 include Christy Creel, treasurer; Jennifer Benefield, secretary; Simone White, immediate past-president; and directors Carolyn Catchings, Denise Hamby, Autumn Jewell, Chris McCullough, Josephine Owino, and Jeff Powers.

AGA, a national professional association of approximately 15,000 members, represents every level of government financial management. The Chattanooga Chapter of AGA includes about 90 members.

Tax reform means jobs, Corker says

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., last week urged his Congressional colleagues to adopt "a pro-growth tax reform plan" to help spur more economic activity and bring down the federal budget deficit. Lowering marginal tax rates and cutting the budget deficit will do more than short-term stimulus measures, be they spending increases or targetted tax cuts, Corker said.

But Corker acknowledged that cutting tax loopholes and simplifying America's tax code won't be simple. The biggest immediate economic benefactor from such a debate will likely be Washington, D.C., and its famous row of lobbyists and law firms on K street.

"Once you get to pro-growth tax reform on the corporate side, there will be the biggest hiring mechanism for K Street you've ever seen," Corker told the reporters and editors of the Chattanooga Times Free Press last week.

For now, Corker said the U.S. economy is benefiting by its comparative advantage over other, weaker countries and investors' flight to American treasurys, which pushed T blll rates last week to near- historic lows.

"Every other place in the world right now is experiencing difficulties," he said. "Right now, we're the least Ugly Duckling and therefore our securities and treasurys are trading at lows."