TVA Taps It, Cohen on College, & Makers 

Drill, baby, drill

The Tennessee Valley Authority got the green light last week to suck up 3.5 million gallons of Memphis drinking water per day to cool its proposed energy plant here.

The Shelby County Water Quality Control Board voted 7-0 to allow the project to move ahead. The vote was against appeals from the local chapter of the Sierra Club on two of the wells TVA hoped to drill.

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TVA's original plan was to use wastewater to cool the new plant, but officials said that plan added cost to the overall project and would not provide a reliable source of water. TVA officials said they considered many other options, too, before deciding to use fresh water for the aquifer, like purchasing water from MLGW, using water from the Mississippi River, and using water from other, local aquifers.

However, tapping the Memphis Sand aquifer "was the most reliable, most cost-effective option" to cool the new energy plant, TVA attorney Edward Meade said last week. He said TVA has a sampling program in place for the wells so that it could focus on problems "based on data, not based on fear and speculation."

TVA has already drilled three wells for the project, and approvals for the final two leave it free to complete the project.

Cohen: Cancel Electoral College

Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen introduced an amendment to the U.S. Constitution last week that would, "eliminate the Electoral College and provide for the direct election of the President and Vice President of the United States."

A statement from Cohen's office last week said, "For the fifth time in our history, we have a President-elect who lost the popular vote."

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"The Electoral College is an antiquated system that was established to prevent citizens from directly electing our nation's President, yet that notion is antithetical to our understanding of democracy," Cohen said.

Fish food

Seventy-five new jobs are coming to President's Island as a group plans to build a new, animal-food ingredient factory there.

Cargill, Calysta, Inc., and a group of investors plan to build and operate the world's largest gas fermentation facility on Cargill's 69-acre property on the industrial peninsula, according to a news release.

The plant will produce Calysta's FeedKind protein, which is an ingredient used in food for fish, livestock, and pets, according to the company.

VR lab to open

Memphis will soon be home to the first virtual and augmented reality lab in the Mid-South, thanks to a multi-pronged partnership between the the FedEx Institute of Technology at the University of Memphis and local technology development groups.

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The lab will be open to students, researchers, and members of the local technology community who are working to further advance development in VR technologies or simply experience them.

Memphis a "Maker City"

Etsy, the online store that enables entrepreneurs to sell their products internationally, designated Memphis as a "Maker City" last week.

Memphis is the fourth city to receive this title from Etsy. Local consultants at Little Bird Innovations have been mapping out the city's maker community. That work helped the city get Etsy's designation.

Memphis' Director of Minority Business Development, Joann Massey, believes the designation and the work could move the needle on Memphis' dismal numbers for women- and minority-owned businesses.

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