TAMING THE SMARTPHONE

Jesse Hercules, the founder of Extracon Science, LLC, saw an opportunity. For 10 years, Extracon has been working with corporations to provide technology that promotes employee wellness.

His latest innovation is the EngageMode app that, he says, “is the employer’s way to help their employees be smarter about smartphones.”

Smartphones were presenting unique situations for employers. The devices didn’t exist not that long ago and were quickly becoming omnipresent. What if an employee was using a phone driving from a factory to a loading dock or while operating equipment? How distracting was having one and how much was it eating into productivity?

Employers often took the approach where managers would punish workers who were out of line. But what about making the technology positive, like giving points for staying off the phone, or if in school, staying off during class?

“After 10 years helping employees change health habits, we knew the solution would look more like a Fitbit than a firewall,” Hercules says. EngageMode provides employees the data on their smartphone use at work, so they can see how often they’re being interrupted and how much time they use the smartphone. They can earn points and badges for the time they keep the phone locked. The goal is to help employees manage their own smartphone use, something that’s “a win/win,” Hercules says. “They’re happier and more productive employees, and one less thing for employers to manage.”

Employers have some control, for example being able to disable some functions while the employee is driving, but having it monitor things like heart rate and speeding. There can be no-phone zones at the workplace and the app can check to make sure it’s using the company network. But it’s only for specified work hours at the work location.

For more information on the company, go here.

And info on the app is here.

WHAT’S GOING ON

– Smith & Nephew has partnered with HealthyHere, a mobile medical clinic, to provide annual physicals, primary care, and follow-up care to employees. The HealthyHere mobile clinics have portable ultrasound machines, a private area for physical exams, and the equipment to do on-board lab work and biometric measurements. The benefit is available at no cost to employees at S&N’s Brooks Road and Holmes Road campuses as well as its general distribution center. Thomas Sutphin, occupational health nurse with Smith & Nephew, says, “An employee can complete their annual checkup in about half an hour via the mobile clinic which is much less than the half day it can take to travel, wait and see a doctor in a regular office setting.”

Thus far, the mobile clinic has resulted in the diagnosis of chronic illnesses in some team members and, for many, early detection and treatment are key. “We’ve had employees find that they are diabetic or have blood pressure issues,” said Sutphin. “Thanks to the mobile clinic, they are aware of it and can get the proper medication and treatment they need before the situation becomes more serious.”

HealthyHere was founded by Dr. William H. West, who also founded the West Cancer Clinic. For more information on HealthyHere, go here.

– The sales and marketing strategy company RedRover has offered clients its Growth Optimization strategic planning and implementation service. The agency is now guaranteeing those results or the client is credited with the difference. “We want to ensure predictable ROI for every growth plan we create.” says founder & CEO Lori Turner-Wilson.

More on the pledge is here.

Meanwhile, the downtown-based agency plans to move into new markets in the South and increase the Memphis headquarters staff. “Our roots will never be lifted from Memphis, but as a growth-minded company it’s natural for us to start looking at additional yards to play in to complement what we started here in Memphis nearly 13 years ago,” says Turner-Wilson.

– Larry Rice of Rice, Amundsen & Caperton, PLLC, a nationally recognized expert in divorce law, says that after December 31, spouses can no longer deduct alimony from their taxes. “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) passed in December 2017 overhauls the 75-year-old tax deduction for alimony,” he says.

The upshot is that high-earning individuals won’t get tax relief for high alimony payments. Rice says: “Currently, the spouse paying alimony, who is normally in a higher tax bracket, can deduct his or her alimony payments on his or her taxes, while the spouse receiving alimony is required to pay income taxes on the payments at his or her lower tax rate. There is a net tax savings between the two of them. If you are divorced after December 31, 2018, the spouse paying alimony will no longer be able to deduct it from his or her income taxes, and the spouse receiving alimony will no longer be required to pay taxes on the alimony he or she receives.”

He adds: “In the normal course of events, spouses without children will have to file by the end of October to be able to get divorced before the end of 2018 and receive alimony under the existing tax code. For spouses with children, the deadline has passed. There may be a way to file later, but the December 31, 2018 deadline for the order on support is absolute.”

– How solvent are we? Pretty good, actually. Tennessee ranks third among the U.S. states for fiscal health according to a new study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University that ranks the 50 states according to their financial condition. The study measures how well states can meet short-term and long-term bills by examining their financial statements.
Here are the key elements:

Cash solvency measures whether a state has enough cash to cover its short-term bills, which include accounts payable, vouchers, warrants, and short-term debt. (Tennessee ranks 10th.)

Budget solvency measures whether a state can cover its fiscal year spending using current revenues. Did it run a shortfall during the year? (Tennessee ranks 7th.)

Long-run solvency measures whether a state has a hedge against large long-term liabilities. Are enough assets available to cushion the state from potential shocks or long-term fiscal risks? (Tennessee ranks 4th.)

Service-level solvency measures how high taxes, revenues, and spending are when compared to state personal income. Do states have enough “fiscal slack”? If spending commitments demand more revenues, are states in a good position to increase taxes without harming the economy? Is spending high or low relative to the tax base? (Tennessee ranks 12th.)

Trust fund solvency measures how much debt a state has. How large are unfunded pension liabilities and OPEB liabilities compared to the state personal income? (Tennessee ranks 3rd.)

The other top states are No. 1 Nebraska and No. 2 South Dakota.

For more info, go here.

NEWS FROM OTHER SOURCES

– The Daily Memphian’s Tom Bailey reports that an industrial developer broke ground in Southeast Memphis, ending an 11-year drought during which no speculative, top-grade distribution centers were built in the city. Read his story here.

– The Commercial Appeal reports on the FedEx acquisition of Australia-based logistics company Manton Air-SeaRead about it here.

– James Bullard, head of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, spoke in Memphis Thursday and said that leaving interest rates at their current level would be “appropriate policy.” Read the Memphis Business Journal’s story here.

THE HOT SHEET

Inside Memphis Business magazine has long been running the Hot Sheet feature of promotions and achievements in local business. We’re now running it in our weekly TipSheet email blast to keep the info more current.

– Brad Miller joined Pinnacle Financial Partners as senior vice president and financial advisor of its client advisory team.

– Cindy Cleveland joined Diversified Trust as principal and chief talent officer.

– Atlanta-based Core5 signed a lease with DSV Solutions to mark the first phase of construction on DeSoto 55 Logistics Center in Horn Lake.

– Looney Ricks Kiss and Crosstown Concourse were recognized with the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Award. LRK was also honored at the IMPACT Tennessee Conference of the US Green Building Council October 11 for their impact in sustainable design at the project and leadership level. The council named LRK’s LEED-Platinum certified project Crosstown Concourse winner of the Exceptional Leadership Award. LRK’s in-house LEED expert Krissy Buck Flickinger was named winner of the Green Leader Volunteer Award.

– Brian M. Peters, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Translational Science in the College of Pharmacy at UTHSC, received a $1,520,000 grant for research into vaginitis pathogenesis.

– Mark Allen, executive vice president, general counsel, and secretary for FedEx Corporation, joined the board of directors at Youth Villages.

– Gennet McKinney joined Crone Law Firm as a legal assistant.

– Partners in Preservation, a program that offers preservation grants to historic sites across the country, announced Clayborn Temple as one of its 2018 campaign participants.

– Girls, Inc. announced the return of its Annual Harvest Festival for the fourth year. The event will be held at the Girls, Inc. Youth Farm, which is dedicated to providing healthy food options for the Frayser and North Memphis communities.

POWER PLAYER

Inside Memphis Business magazine publishes a list of local Power Players every year. These are the movers and shakers in more than 30 categories who get things done in their respective fields. IMB’s April issue has the complete list. We also publish individual categories in other issues throughout the year, and we feature individual Power Players in our weekly Tip Sheet.

This week’s Power Player is Jeremy C. Park, president, cityCURRENT; member of LLC, Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance. cityCURRENT is a privately funded catalyst, hosting over 150 free community events annually, along with an array of media and philanthropic initiatives. Author, “Giving Back” column in The Commercial Appeal; and books, Giving Back with Purpose and Giving for Growth. Forbes contributor. Producer and host of ChangeMakers podcast, The SPARK, The SPARK Awards on WKNO-TV, cityCURRENT radio show across the Cumulus Media Memphis network.

For the complete list of Inside Memphis Business Power Players, go here.

CEO OF THE YEAR

Every year, Inside Memphis Business magazine honors four CEOs who have proven to be exemplary in their fields, leading their companies to success on local, regional, national, and international stages.

Nominations for the 2019 CEO of the Year awards are open. Memphis is graced with tremendously talented, inspiring executives in charge of their companies and organizations, and we want to hear from you about the best in the business. Email your nomination to [email protected]com and include the CEO’s resume and a description of why he or she should get the award: vision, achievements, business philosophy, employee relations, management style, special qualities.

We give out four awards in categories according to the number of employees in the companies: 1-50, 50-200, 200-1,000, and 1,000 and up, so include that information as well. The deadline for CEO of the Year is November 16, 2018. When the nominations are in, an impartial panel will consider the nominees and pick one for each category. Each will be notified and interviewed for the February/March 2019 issue of IMB — and each will appear on the cover of the magazine. A breakfast in late January will honor the four CEOs.