Business Briefs: Unum Group names Michael Simonds as chief operating officer

Unum Group, which is headquartered in downtown Chattanooga, is boosting its minimum pay to $15 an hour, extending parental leave benefits and adding to its charitable contributions after reporting record profits in 2017.

Unum Group announced Thursday that Michael Q. Simonds, president and CEO of Unum US, has been named to the newly created role of chief operating officer of the company, effective Feb. 1.

The Chattanooga-based Unum said it is eliminating the role of president and CEO of Unum US under its new structure.

Simonds joined Unum in 1994 and has worked in roles in several divisions, including finance, marketing and sales.

Mortgage rates up; 30-year loan at 3.65%

U.S. long-term mortgage rates rose slightly last week after financial markets that had been roiled by the U.S.-Iran conflict stabilized.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage ticked up to 3.65% from 3.64% last week. The benchmark rate was 4.45% a year ago.

The average rate on a 15-year mortgage increased to 3.09% from 3.07% last week.

Loan rates regained the stability they've shown in recent months, buttressed by positive economic data, a strong job market, and improved sentiment in the housing market, which saw a slowdown early last year.

Freddie Mac surveys lenders nationwide between Monday and Wednesday each week to compile its mortgage rate figures.

Krystal Foundation giving grants to 14 schools for STEAM enrichment

The Krystal Foundation, the charitable-giving arm of the fast-food restaruant chain, announced Thursday it is giving $29,520 in grants to 14 schools to support local enrichment programs in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) as well as music, sports and culinary arts.

This year's aid to the schools selected from among numerous applicants brings the total amount Krystal has donated to schools in its Southeastern footprint to $315,902 since 2016.

Hixson High School will use its grant for its CALMM program for higher functioning autistic children who are working toward a regular diploma. Participating students will integrate classroom knowledge with real world experiences by learning how to buy, prepare and serve food, maintaining a safe environment and a sanitary kitchen.Sponsored by The Krystal Company, the Foundation has awarded $315,902 in grants to 124 schools and affiliated organizations across Krystal's nine-state footprint since its inception in 2016.

"The Foundation allows us to make a meaningful difference for the children of our customers and employees," said Angela Johnson, president of The Krystal Foundation and senior director of marketing communications for Krystal. "We're proud to give back to the communities in which we serve our famous steamed Krystal burgers through grants for STEAM initiatives, culinary programs and sports."

Students at St. Teresa School in Titusville, Florida will be introduced to gardening as a means of understanding the interactions between plants, butterflies and the community. They will plant and care for the garden and for the butterflies that will reside there. Building Beyond the Walls, a nonprofit in South Carolina, will apply its grant money toward mentoring young male students and introducing them to STEAM learning challenges.

The next grant window opens April 1 and extends through April 30. Teachers, principals, school faculty, PTO/PTA groups and other K-12 school-affiliated organizations are all eligible and encouraged to apply for grants during April at

About The Krystal Company Founded in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1932, The Krystal Company is the original quick-service restaurant chain in the South and was selected to USA Today's 2019 Top-10 Best Regional Fast Food List. Krystal hamburgers are still served fresh and hot off the grill on the iconic square bun at 300 restaurants across the Southeast. Krystal's Atlanta-based Restaurant Support Center serves a team of 7,500 employees. For more information, visit