Chattanooga restarts home repair aid and other business news

City restarts aid for home repairs

The city of Chattanooga is relaunching a home repair program that had paused during the COVID19 pandemic.

The Home Assistance Repair Program (HARP) will provide financial assistance to 90 or more low-to-moderate-income families to make home repairs over the next two years. Administered by the city's Neighborhood Services Division, the city began accepting applications Monday.

The city managed a similar program for more than 14 years that helped over 750 Chattanooga residents before it was halted due to the pandemic. With a name change and a $425,000 increase in funding through American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, Mayor Tim Kelly said HARP will provide improved purchasing power for each project, giving more opportunities to complete home repairs such as interior and exterior painting, porch and step repairs, siding and deck repairs.

"Every Chattanoogan should have a safe and stable place to call home, and this is one more tool in our toolkit to help make that possible," Kelly said in an announcement of the new initiative Monday.

GSA awards contract for courthouse study

Potomac-Hudson Engineering has been selected to conduct the required environmental and site analysis for a new federal courthouse planned in downtown Chattanooga.

The U.S. General Services Administration said Monday that a public scoping meeting for the analyzing local courthouse sites will be conducted this year under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements. The purpose of the meeting is to provide information on the NEPA process and to offer the community an opportunity to provide input regarding sites under consideration and potential environmental impacts associated with the project.

In January, GSA announced that its short list of sites being considered for a proposed 186,000-square-foot courthouse building include part of the TVA Chattanooga Office Complex west of Broad Street, the Chattanooga Lookouts stadium site on Hawk Hill and a parking lot south of Eighth Street between Georgia Avenue and Lindsay Street near Patten Parkway.

Congress has authorized $218.4 million for a replacement for the Joel Solomon Federal Building, which was constructed more than 90 years ago and no longer meets today's security and accessibility standards.

Vice Media files for bankruptcy

Vice Media on Monday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the most recent digital media company to falter after a meteoric rise.

A consortium of lenders — Fortress Investment Group, Soros Fund Management and Monroe Capital — is buying Vice for about $225 million, in addition to taking on a significant amount of the company's debt. Other parties will be able to submit bids as well.

Vice said it expects the sale to be wrapped up in the next two to three months. It said that during the process its media brands will continue to produce content and the company will keep paying its employees and vendors.

In a prepared statement, Vice co-CEOs Bruce Dixon and Hozefa Lokhandwala said the "accelerated court-supervised sale process" will strengthen the company and position it for long-term growth, "thereby safeguarding the kind of authentic journalism and content creation that makes VICE such a trusted brand for young people and such a valued partner to brands, agencies and platforms."

Vice assets and liabilities are worth between $500 million and $1 billion, according to Monday's filing.

Berkshire Hathway details investments

Investor Warren Buffett recommitted to his favorite bank stock, Bank of America, during the first quarter while dumping two other banks as part of a number of moves in Berkshire Hathaway's stock portfolio.

Berkshire provided a quarterly update on its U.S. holdings Monday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Many investors follow the company's moves closely because of Buffett's remarkably successful investing record over the decades.

Berkshire slightly increased its 179.4 million share stake in Bank of America stock while eliminating long-time stakes in US Bancorp and the Bank of New York Mellon. Buffett has eliminated a number of bank investments in recent years, but he continues to back Bank of America.

Berkshire also picked up nearly 10 million shares of Capital One stock, but it continued to reduce its Activision Blizzard stake in the quarter down to 49.4 million shares from 52.7 million at the start of the year. Buffett has said he bought that stock as a way to bet that Microsoft's acquisition of the video game maker will ultimately go through. That deal is in doubt after British regulators rejected it and U.S. regulators sued to block it although the European Union did endorse Microsoft's purchase Monday.

Berkshire also cut its General Motors investment down to 40 million shares from the previous quarter's 50 million.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner