Business from across the state

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 2:43am

VW driving here?

As Tennessee and Alabama battle it out with Michigan as the three finalists vying to land a new auto manufacturing operation for German-based Volkswagen, state officials in the two Southern states got some new bragging rights to leverage in the fight.

Site Selection magazine recently ranked the Alabama Development Office the nation's No. 2 economic development department with Tennessee taking top honors.

In Chattanooga

— MSD Capital, the $12 billion in assets private investment firm that manages the capital of Dell Computer founder Michael Dell and his family, joined with automotive retail industry veteran Jeffrey Rachor of Chattanooga to form MSD Automotive Partners.

The new company, to be headquartered in Chattanooga, will own and operate premier car dealerships across the U.S. Rachor, the new entity’s CEO, is the former President of Sonic Automotive, a Fortune 300 company and the third largest automotive retailer in the United States.

— The Georgia Aquarium, already the world’s largest, is planning a $110 million dollar expansion to include a dolphin exhibit. Located in Atlanta, the Georgia Aquarium is a two-hours drive from the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga.

— Publicly traded The Dixie Group cut about 8% of the company’s 1,400-person work force citing difficult times in the carpet and flooring industry.

— The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) agreed in principle to continue holding its Division I Football Championship in Chattanooga at Finley Stadium Davenport Field through 2009. The game, a significant tourist driver for the city, has an estimated economic impact of about $1.8 million per year.

In Memphis

— The next chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court will be Memphis Justice Janice Holder. She’ll replace William M. Barker, who retires effective Sept. 1.

According to the Tennessee Constitution, serving justices pick their own chief justice and former Shelby County Circuit Court judge Holder is their pick.

In Clarksville

— Former state representative and Bredesen administration official Kim McMillan, who recently announced that she had launched a gubernatorial exploratory committee, was elected chairman of the board of directors of Clarksville-based Cumberland Bank & Trust Bank.

McMillan is among the co-founders of the seven-year-old bank. Currently she is employed as executive director of Community and Business Relations at Austin Peay State University

In Johnson City

— East Tennessee State University President Paul Stanton announced his retirement from the university. Stanton will step down in March 2009. A former ETSU medical dean and vice president for health affairs, Stanton has led ETSU as its eighth president since January 1997.

— BusinessTN staff reports

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