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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, January 15, 2021

Briefs: VW sales drop in 2020, market share increases




German automaker Volkswagen says its global sales fell 15.2% during 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but showed significant recovery toward the end of the year. The company more than tripled its sales of battery-only vehicles.

Global sales for all of VW’s brands amounted to 9.3 million vehicles. The fourth quarter showed a smaller decline of 5.7% and within that quarter the month of December was still further improved, showing a shortfall of only 3.2% from the same period the year before.

VW says sales fell the most in Western Europe, by 21.6%, while China, its largest market, fell 9.1%

Sales of battery-only cars jumped 214% to 231,600 from 73,700 across all the company’s brands. The company’s electric sales leaders included the Volkswagen ID.3 compact with 56,500, the Audi e-tron SUV with 47,300, and the high-end Porsche Taycan with 20,000.

Volkswagen said that its sales fell by less than the overall market, meaning it slightly expanded its market share.

                        — The Associated Press

Chattanooga WTCI to receive grant from state

The Tennessee Department of Education will award $1 million to Tennessee’s six PBS stations, including Chattanooga WTCI.

Other PBS stations receiving funding are WNPT Nashville, East Tennessee PBS, WCTE Upper Cumberland, WKNO Memphis and West TN PBS for their partnership to engage families and support quality education for students across the state.

“The department is pleased to award the state’s six PBS station $1 million to support the critical role our public television stations have played, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, to engage families and provide access to educational resources and supports,” says Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “We thank the Tennessee PBS stations for their partnership to ensure students can have daily access to Tennessee teachers and classroom lessons.”

In collaboration with Tennessee teachers and districts, the department created an at-home learning series with over 300 instructional classroom video lessons for first-eighth grade students airing across all six Tennessee PBS stations since the spring.

This additional $1 million is one-time funding from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund through the CARES Act.

Sandhill Crane Festival flies to new format

The 2021 Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

The festival committee has decided to host an online “Celebration of Cranes.”

This virtual event is scheduled through Jan. 16 and will include short, daily interviews with all festival partners, three virtual events hosted by the American Eagle Foundation and the International Crane Foundation along with a Facebook Live broadcast from Hiwassee Refuge Saturday, Jan. 16, at 9 a.m.

The annual Sandhill Crane Festival is held in January in the north Hamilton County community of Birchwood and in neighboring Meigs County at the Hiwassee Refuge and Cherokee Removal Memorial Park. At this year’s event, sandhill cranes will continue to be front and center

Individuals wishing to view cranes can still visit the Hiwassee Refuge. However, everyone is encouraged to visit ebird.org and find sandhill cranes and other birdwatching events.

U-Haul: Tennessee tops for people moving in

Tennessee is the No. 1 growth state in the U.S., according to a study by U-Haul, having posted the largest net gain of the company’s trucks crossing its borders in 2020.

It is the first time the state has ranked at the top of the list.

East and Middle Tennessee are enjoying the biggest gains in U-Haul arrivals. The top growth cities include Knoxville, the Tri-Cities, Cookeville, Clarksville, Cleveland, Murfreesboro and Maryville.

Growth states are calculated by the net gain of one-way U-Haul trucks entering a state versus leaving that state in a calendar year. Migration trends data is compiled from more than 2 million one-way U-Haul truck customer transactions that occur annually.

While U-Haul migration trends do not correlate directly to population or economic growth, the company’s growth data is an effective gauge of how well cities and states are attracting and maintaining residents.

Lipscomb & Pitts announces merger

Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance co-CEOs Mat Lipscomb III and Johnny Pitts are merging their firm with Higginbotham.

With 134 employees in Memphis, Nashville and Chattanooga, Jonesboro, Arkansas, and Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance is among the largest independent brokers in the Southeast. Higginbotham is ranked by revenue as the nation’s largest Tesas-based independent insurance broker.

Higginbotham is strategically growing by partnering with independent insurance firms that complement its service model and add scale to its operation, which now spans seven states.

Lipscomb and Pitts are second-generation majority owners of the firm. Their fathers became business partners in 1954 after working together at Liberty Mutual, and their sons, friends since childhood, assumed leadership in 1990.

OrthoBanc purchased by private equity firm

Chattanooga-based OrthoBanc, LLC, with 20 years in the orthodontic patient financial management sector, has been purchased by Accel-KKR, a technology-focused private equity firm headquartered in Denver.

Lincoln International served as OrthoFi’s exclusive financial adviser and arranged debt financing in support of the transaction.

Truist Securities served as adviser to Orthobanc on the transaction.

The merger will deliver a portfolio of industry-leading patient acquisition software solutions and revenue cycle management services.