Michael Wilkey

Talk Business & Politics

Michael Wilkey is a content contributor for KUAR 89.1. He works for Talk Business & Politics and is their Northeast Arkansas correspondent.

He can be reached by email at MWilkey@TalkBusiness.net.

There was some debate between Jonesboro city leaders and officials with Arkansas State University in regards to the construction of at least two conference centers in the town, according to emails obtained by Talk Business and Politics.

Talk Business and Politics on Tuesday requested copies of any and all correspondence between Arkansas State University and Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin about the projects.

The Fab Four from Liverpool – who made a trip through Northeast Arkansas more than 50 years ago – were big fans of the music from the region, an author of a new book about The Beatles said Thursday.

Ivor Davis, who wrote the book, “The Beatles and Me on Tour,” will visit Walnut Ridge Friday and Saturday as part of the Beatles at the Ridge Festival.

Big River Steel
Johnathan Reaves / KASU News

Big River Steel has pre-sold nearly a quarter of the steel it is expected to produce over the next seven years, the company’s CEO told a legislative committee Wednesday.

The threat of a nuclear Iran places the United States and countries in the Middle East in an even more precarious situation, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. told the NEA Political Animals club meeting Friday.

Cotton, who recently returned from a 10-day trip to Asia where he toured South Korea and Taipei, spoke to the group at the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce office on Nettleton Avenue.

Doyle Webb
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party paid a visit to Jonesboro Tuesday night, to rally his political troops and talk about the 2016 campaign.

Doyle Webb spoke at the Craighead County Republican Committee monthly meeting about a variety of issues involving next year’s election cycle.

The ballot in 2016 features a race for President, a United States Senate seat, four United States House seats, 100 state House and 17 state Senate races as well as countless county races.

It’s déjà vu all over again.

A longtime Jonesboro company broke ground on a $12 million, 62,000 square foot facility that will bring up to 75 new jobs to the company.

The expansion groundbreaking for Hytrol Conveyor Co. was the 10th one at its facility on Arkansas 18 and the first one since 1999, the company’s chairman, Robert Jones, said before the shovel-turning event.

The company, which makes conveyors for companies like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Macy’s and Fed Ex, moved to Jonesboro in 1962.

A recent trip by Gov. Asa Hutchinson and economic development officials sent a clear statement to aerospace and steel companies about the state of Arkansas, a Northeast Arkansas economic development official said Monday.

Clif Chitwood, an official with the Great River Economic Development group in Mississippi County, attended the Paris Air Show with Hutchinson and other business leaders from around the state.

The air show brought aerospace companies together with suppliers in the civilian aviation industry.

The trip to Paris also brought good news Monday afternoon.

A former circuit judge who pleaded guilty to bribery late last year will go before a federal judge this fall for sentencing, according to court documents filed late Wednesday.

Mike Maggio was scheduled to be sentenced July 24 in federal court in Little Rock. However, the sentencing has been postponed until 10:30 a.m., Nov. 20 before Chief District Judge Brian S. Miller.

Governor Asa Hutchinson Gov
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The city of Caraway could one day become a “computer mecca,” with students learning the skills of computer coding and computer science, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Thursday.

Hutchinson, who attended the groundbreaking of Riverside East Elementary School, spoke to the nearly 300 people in attendance about education and the opportunity it gives.

eapdd.com

The growth of the Delta will involve people, businesses and organizations constantly thinking outside the box, the executive director of the East Arkansas Planning and Development District said in a recent Talk Business & Politics interview.

Melissa Rivers, who became the executive director in May 2011, said her group has worked tirelessly on building that opportunity.

Cuba
Jorge Royan / Wikimedia Commons

Agricultural opinions in Arkansas were upbeat about President Obama’s plan to move towards normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba, but political attitudes were mixed.

On Wednesday, Obama announced a plan to re-establish some diplomatic and economic ties between the U.S. and the communist island nation using Presidential authority and actions.

A new or renovated airport, as well as improvements to the city’s water and sewer system, are near and long-term goals for Osceola’s economic future, the town’s mayor said Tuesday.

Dickie Kennemore said council members met Monday with officials with Little Rock-based McClelland Engineering about the water/sewer projects as well as voted to hire North Little Rock-based firm, Garver Engineering, to complete a feasibility study on the airport issue.

The Material Works Ltd. announced Tuesday it will build an advanced flat rolled toll processing center adjacent to the new Big River Steel mill in Osceola, Arkansas.

Construction will begin in second quarter 2015 with the facility expected to be fully operational to coincide with Big River Steel’s opening in 2016. TMW will invest approximately $20 million in the new facility where 45 new jobs will be created.

Great River Economic Development official Clif Chitwood said Tuesday that Osceola and Mississippi County have been busy in recent years due to persistence.

The state of Arkansas definitely has room to improve in battling other states in the region for economic development projects and the day-to-day economy, Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce president Randy Zook said Thursday. He also declared that the next Governor needs to create a “workforce czar” or an empowered panel on Day One.

Zook spoke to several regional economic development and community leaders early Thursday at the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce office.

The debates are over but the interest in Arkansas’ U.S. Senate and Governors races remain, according to several national political analysts.