Business News: Three Chattanooga area companies vie for innovation award

Business News: Three Chattanooga area companies vie for innovation award

October 31st, 2014 by Staff Reports and Associated Press in Business Around the Region

Three Chattanooga area companies vie for innovation award

Three Chattanooga area companies have been named finalists for the 2014 Spirit of Innovation Award, to be presented by the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 12.

The companies are Bellhops, PriceWaiter and Variable Inc.

The award recognizes companies for innovative products, services and ways of doing business in the Chattanooga region.

Jeff Silver, chief executive officer of Chicago-based Coyote Logistics, will deliver the keynote address at the luncheon. Coyote Logistics is one of the fastest-growing third party logistics companies in North America, having merged recently with Access America Transport.

Regions tops user satisfaction

Regions Bank is the highest-ranked bank in the South for customer satisfaction in small business banking, according to a new consumer survey.

Regions earned the ranking as part of J.D. Power's 2014 U.S. Small Business Banking Satisfaction Study. The annual study measures how satisfied small businesses are with a variety of services they receive from their bank.

To develop its overall satisfaction rankings, J.D. Power analyzed responses from thousands of small business owners or their financial decision makers. Financial institutions were ranked based on a variety of factors such as product offerings, credit services and problem resolution.

Browns Ferry resumes generation

TVA's oldest nuclear reactor has resumed power generation after successfully completing a refueling and maintenance outage.

The Unit 1 reactor at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant returned to service at 8:16 p.m. CDT on Wednesday. Plant operators will be raising power over the next several days until the unit once again achieves full power.

During the Unit 1 outage, more than 11,000 work activities were completed, including the installation of 308 new fuel assemblies in the reactor core. In addition to refueling activities, the team installed brand-new pump motors on a key reactor safety system, marking the end of a multi-year initiative to replace every pump motor on two safety systems for all three units -- 24 motors in all. The team also installed modifications that support Browns Ferry's move to a new, risk-based fire protection system. More than 850 supplemental nuclear workers joined the Browns Ferry team to complete this outage work.

Unit 1 is one of three reactors in operation at Browns Ferry, which together generate more than 3,300 megawatts of electricity -- about 14 percent of TVA's total power output.

Mortgage rates edge higher

Average U.S. long-term mortgage rates arrested their five-week decline this week but the benchmark 30-year loan remained below 4 percent.

Mortgage company Freddie Mac said Thursday the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage rose to 3.98 percent from 3.92 percent last week. It remained at its lowest level since June 2013. The rate stood at 4.53 percent back in January.

The average for a 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, increased to 3.13 percent from 3.08 percent. The sustained decline in long-term rates sparked a boomlet of homeowners looking to refinance mortgages. Homeowners eager for a bargain rate fired off inquiries to lenders. Applications for "re-fi's" jumped 23 percent in the week ended Oct. 17 -- reaching their highest level since November 2013, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

But refinance applications fell 7 percent in the latest week, ended Oct. 24.

TVA drops Boone Reservoir level

The Boone Reservoir near Johnson City, Tenn., will have its level dropped five weeks early as Tennessee Valley Authority engineers search for the source of water seepage. The move comes after a sinkhole was discovered near an earthen embankment at the dam.

TVA Vice President of River Operations John McCormick said engineers want to be able to see what caused the sinkhole and where water and sediment is coming from. The sinkhole, which was discovered last week, has already been repaired and was near the base of the embankment. Water and sediment were found Sunday seeping from the river bank below the dam.

The early drawdown means Boone Reservoir levels will reach winter pool by Nov. 10, about five weeks sooner than normal. TVA draws down the lake about 25 feet from summertime to wintertime levels.

Flooring company adds 200 jobs

Mannington Mills, the world's leading manufacturer of luxury vinyl tile, will further expand in Morgan County, creating an additional 200 jobs and investing $50 million into the project over the next four years.

Mannington Mills will construct a 550,000-square-foot facility on new land in Madison to house additional manufacturing and distribution operations. This is the second expansion in the course of a year in Morgan County.

"It's very exciting to be announcing this next expansion project, which will be the largest in Mannington's history," said Russell Grizzle, the CEO of the 99-year-old company based in Salem, N.J.

The privately held company employs approximately 2,200 people around the globe.