State roundup: KFC and PETA square off on River City streets

Sunday, May 10, 2009 at 11:04pm

Across the state

Updating his 2009 Economic Report to the Governor, prepared by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, UT economics professor and CBER associate director Matt Murray reported that although economic conditions for the state and nation remain dire, there are early indications that a slow turnaround may be coming.

Among those tidbits of good news: “Consumer sentiment has improved slightly from very depressed levels, mortgage applications are up, the stock market has seen significant gains in recent weeks, and the housing market situation appears to be stabilizing.”

The update predicts a rebound in economic activity in the third and fourth quarters of this year. But it warns that because conditions have been so bad, recovery will be lengthy. Economic activity will not return to their pre-recession levels until 2012 or 2013, according to the report. The complete report is available at cber.bus.utk.edu.

Chattanooga

The City of Chattanooga ended up in the middle of a dispute between fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken and animal rights group PETA after the city accepted a $3,000 grant from KFC for pothole repair. The catch? The city granted KFC the right to paint restaurant advertisements at the site of each repaired pothole. PETA promptly offered to double the grant amount for the same right. However, the city declined PETA’s offer, publicly stating that the city would not allow an organization to malign a corporation on its asphalt.

Knoxville

Regal Entertainment Group, the nation’s largest theatre circuit, announced that founder, CEO and board chairman Mike Campbell would transfer his CEO responsibilities to Regal’s current CFO, Amy Miles. Campbell will assume the role of full-time executive chairman of the board. David Ownby, Regal’s senior vice president of finance and chief accounting officer, becomes Regal’s new CFO. The new executive appointments will take effect June 30.

Memphis

A federal judge entered a consent permanent injunction in a lawsuit brought by the Peabody Hotels' owner, Peabody Management Inc., that enjoins a national hospitality industry painting contractor from acts of trademark infringement and trademark dilution by use of the name “Peabody” and combinations of the Peabody name with a duck logo. Defendant Peabody Painting and Waterproofing Inc. of Louisville now has a limited period to transition to a new name that will not incorporate the name “Peabody.” The defendant’s president admitted that he was “inspired” to adopt the Peabody name by virtue of a visit he made to a Peabody Hotel and that he added duck imagery to his logo.

FedEx filed a lawsuit against rival package delivery outfit UPS over its recent advertising campaign boasting status as the most reliable in its industry. FedEx points to a more recent Morgan Stanley survey listing FedEx as the top package delivery company for service reliability. The complaint, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, asks the court to make UPS remove the campaign from TV and print outlets.

Clarksville

Nyrstar, owner and operator of a large zinc refinery in Clarksville, acquired the Mid-Tennessee Zinc mine complex, which includes mines in Elmwood, Gordonsville and Cumberland, for almost $10 million. The seller was bankrupt Mid-Tennessee Zinc Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of Strategic Resource Acquisition Corp.