Auto dealer provision approved for Waterside

A Chattanooga planning panel on Monday approved a change to a provision that would enable a large tract of undeveloped land in the Waterside mixed-use project off Shallowford Road to be used for auto sales and repairs.

Mike Price of MAP Engineers, representing PDB Development and GP & Napier Associates, said the action by the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission removes a condition on what's allowed in Waterside as it relates to restricting an auto dealership.

"We think as that property is marketed, that is something that should be allowed and would be suitable," said Price. He declined further comment.

Nearly across Interstate-75 from Waterside sits the CarMax auto dealership. Waterside holds an Embassy Suites hotel, Ruth Chris steak house, a Publix, REI outdoors shop and other retailers and offices.


Volkswagen, Conservation Fund help protect 1,500 acres

Volkswagen of America and The Conservation Fund have finished a multi-year effort to buy, conserve and transfer about 1,500 acres of land to the U.S. Forest Service for inclusion in the Cherokee National Forest.

The protection of the land, which includes three separate tracts in the region near the Volkswagen Chattanooga assembly plant, adds to statewide efforts to help preserve wildlife habitats and cultural resources, improve water quality, and provide additional recreation access and environmental education to the community.

"We are proud of the environmental strides we have made with The Conservation Fund and believe this work is integral to our endeavor of giving back to a community where more than 3,800 of our colleagues live," said Hein Schafer, senior vice president of product marketing and strategy at Volkswagen of America.

The final land conveyance is part of Volkswagen's $1.25 million donation to The Conservation Fund. The conserved lands, located in Polk, Monroe and Cocke counties are now open for public use and recreation, including hunting, wildlife viewing, and fishing.


Pinnacle boost profits 23% in third quarter

The parent company of Pinnacle Bank said Tuesday its third-quarter profits rose more than 23% despite a drop in the volume of federal Paycheck Protection Program loans compared with a year ago.

Pinnacle Financial Partners Inc., the Nashville-based banking company that acquired the former CapitalMark Bank in Chattanooga in 2015, reported net income of $1.75 per share for the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2021, compared to a net income of $1.42 for the same period a year earlier.

"Despite the ongoing uncertain economic climate, we continue to experience strong organic growth," said M. Terry Turner, Pinnacle's president and chief executive officer. "Our business model continued to serve us well during the third quarter.

Aggregate loans grew at an annualized rate of 2.8 percent for the quarter. After excluding the impact of PPP forgiveness and paydowns of $664.2 million, other loans increased at an annualized rate of 15.3 percent.

"We successfully recruited 32 new revenue producers to our firm during the third quarter, and our ongoing recruiting pipelines are as strong as I can remember," Turner said. "We also remain very excited about our new markets, which include Atlanta, Huntsville and Birmingham, as well as our recent hires in the equipment finance and franchise lending segments."

Turner said 2022 loan growth with the new markets should grow at a double-digit level.


FDA authorizes sale of electronic cigarettes

For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday authorized an electronic cigarette, saying R.J. Reynolds' vaping device can help smokers cut back on conventional cigarettes.

E-cigarettes have been sold in the U.S. for more than a decade with minimal government oversight or research. Facing a court deadline, the FDA has been conducting a sweeping review of vaping products to determine which ones should be allowed to remain on the market.

The agency said in September it had rejected applications for more than a million e-cigarettes and related products, mainly due to their potential appeal to underage teens. But regulators delayed making decisions on most of the major vaping companies, including market leader Juul, which is still pending.

Tuesday's decision only applies to Vuse's Solo e-cigarette and its tobacco-flavored nicotine cartridges. The agency said data from the company showed the e-cigarette helped smokers significantly reduce their use of cigarettes.

While the products can now be legally sold in the U.S., the FDA stressed they are neither safe nor "FDA approved," and that people who don't smoke shouldn't use them.

Launched in 2013, Vuse Solo is a rechargeable metallic device that is shaped like a traditional cigarette. The FDA said it rejected 10 other requests from the company for other flavored products, but did not disclose details. The agency is still reviewing the company's request to sell a menthol-flavored nicotine formula.

"Today's authorizations are an important step toward ensuring all new tobacco products undergo the FDA's robust, scientific premarket evaluation," said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA's tobacco center, in a statement.


Hasbro CEO dies at age 58

Toy and entertainment company Hasbro has announced that its CEO and chairman Brian D. Goldner has died. He was 58.

The announcement Tuesday comes two days after the Pawtucket, Rhode Island, company said Goldner was taking a medical leave of absence from his CEO role, effective immediately. It was also announced at that time that Rich Stoddart, most recently the lead independent director of Hasbro's board, has been appointed as interim CEO.

The company did not give a cause of death, but Goldner disclosed in August 2020 that he had been undergoing treatment for cancer since 2014. Goldner served as the CEO of Hasbro Inc. since 2008, and served as the chairman since May 2015.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner