Talk Business & Politics Staff

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medical money medicine
Talk Business & Politics

Springdale-based NOWDiagnostics, manufacturer of blood test kits, has moved all of its plastic housing production from China to its home base in Arkansas. The company cited efforts to improve quality control and to bring additional jobs to the state as the primary reasons for the move.

“By moving all of our production to Arkansas, we have better control over the quality of our products, which is our chief concern,” said Kevin Clark, CEO of NOWDiagnostics.

Natural Gas Drilling Mt. Vernon in Faulkner County
Arkansas Times

Southwestern Energy Co. said Thursday it is laying off around 1,100 workers companywide with 600 of those jobs to cut in Arkansas. The Texas driller’s Fayetteville Shale operations in Arkansas had more than 1,500 workers a year ago.

“Natural gas prices have continued to decline over the past year, creating conditions where cash flow to fund projects will be significantly lower that it has been the past few years,” said company spokeswoman Christina Fowler. “This has led to a need to reduce the company’s overall workforce.”

Just five days after Wal-Mart Stores announced it was exiting the small store business, the company called attention to the second phase of its $2.7 billion “investment” in employees. Pay raises and other benefits are set to begin Feb. 20, with Wal-Mart hailing it as the “largest single-day, private-sector pay increases ever.”

Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport Sign
commons.wikimedia.org

It was a mixed bag for Arkansas’ three largest airports in 2015. Clinton National Airport in Little Rock fell below a million enplanements, the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) for the second consecutive year set a new record for traffic, and the Fort Smith Regional Airport saw traffic fall more than 7%.

March for Life pro-life anti-abortion abortion
Talk Business & Politics

Several thousand people, along with most of the state’s leading elected officials, marched in opposition to abortion Sunday at the 38th Annual March for Life at the state Capitol.

The marchers wound behind the Capitol and then gathered at the steps, where they heard short speeches by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and U.S. Reps. French Hill, R-Little Rock, and Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs.

Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs.
wikipedia.org

Bank of the Ozarks is laying the foundation for future growth with plans for a new corporate headquarters in west Little Rock.

The Little Rock-based financial institution says it has outgrown three headquarters locations in the past 20 years.

Fort Smith attorney Brad Jesson, who served as Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court and was one of the early political supporters of an unknown Dale Bumpers, has passed away. He was 83, and would have been 84 on Jan. 26.

On top of less than stellar holiday sales, retailers also are expected to see return fraud grow from $1.9 billion in the 2014 holiday cycle to $2.2 billion this year, according to the National Retail Federation.

A leading economic indicator for the nine-state middle America region stretching from Arkansas to North Dakota shows that business growth has slumped for the fifth straight month heading into the new year, according to the Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index for December.

An executive order that supporters say will stem gun violence in the country was characterized Tuesday by members of the state’s congressional delegation as a power grab.

In a speech at the White House on Tuesday, President Barack Obama (D) said the issue was about protecting people in a violent world.

Dale Bumpers
Talk Business & Politics

Arkansas has lost a political legend. Dale Leon Bumpers, a four-term U.S. Senator and two-term governor, has passed away at the age of 90 after a long illness, multiple sources have confirmed.

medical money medicine
Talk Business & Politics

Arkansas achieved a check mark on six of 10 indicators for its infectious disease priorities, placing it above the middle of the pack, according to a December 2015 report, “Outbreaks 2015: Protecting Americans from Infectious Diseases” by the Trust for America’s Health and by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

A former state senator who pleaded guilty earlier this year to a federal mail fraud charge will appear before a federal judge next spring for sentencing.

Batesville-based Bad Boy Mowers is investing $7.8 million in a facility expansion that is expected to add 160 jobs, raising the total employment to around 750.

Company officials said Monday (Dec. 14) the expansion is a 68,000-square-foot property on 10 acres near existing 1 million-square-foot building on 29 acres.

Tales From The South

North Little Rock-based Bourbon & Boots, the online retailer featuring Southern artisan merchandise, has entered into an agreement to purchase Tales From The South, a radio show and media company featuring Southern storytelling. Terms of the private transaction were not disclosed.

President Barack Obama provided few specifics on how the battle against ISIS must be won, members of the state’s Congressional Delegation said Sunday night.

In about a 15-minute address in the Oval Office, Obama spoke about the recent shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., in which 14 people were murdered and 21 others were injured.

On Friday, officials with the FBI said they were investigating the massacre as a terrorist attack. The attack, officials have said, is the worst terrorist attack in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001.

UALR sign
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock unveiled a new power generation plant on campus Wednesday that university officials said will reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions significantly in the coming years.

During a ceremony at the campus, university officials and representatives of Little Rock-based energy firm TME demonstrated UALR’s top-of-the-line power plant, capable of powering the campus during outages or scheduled power grid interruptions.

A discrimination/retaliation lawsuit filed Monday against the Fort Smith Police Department notes that the department has not promoted a black officer since 1988 and has not hired a black officer since 1995.

Arkansas Children's Hospital
Wikipedia

Arkansas hospitals are doing better than some of their counterparts in other states that did not expand their Medicaid populations, a new study by the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement finds.

In 2013, Arkansas legislators voted to expand Arkansas’ Medicaid population through the Arkansas Health Care Independence Program, better known as the private option. The program uses state Medicaid dollars to purchase private insurance for Arkansans with incomes of no more than 138% of the federal poverty line. Many states, meanwhile, chose not to expand their populations.

The accountant for a former state senator who pleaded guilty to mail fraud earlier this year needs more time to determine who has been paid back in the aftermath of the case, the former state senator’s attorney said in a court filing Monday.

Attorney Bill Stanley of Jonesboro, who represents former state Sen. Paul Bookout, D-Jonesboro, asked for a continuance in the case until the work is done. The case is before Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Miller, with the Eastern District of Arkansas.

walmart wal-mart
Walmart

Wal-Mart Stores posted fiscal third quarter net income of $3.304 billion, below the $3.711 billion in the same period of 2015, but better than what was expected by equity analysts who cover the retailer. And while the closely watched metric of same-store sales moved in the right direction for Wal-Mart, the company is predicting “relatively flat” sales growth for the year.

Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs.
wikipedia.org

Little Rock-based Bank of the Ozarks – fresh off last month’s $800 million acquisition of Atlanta’s Community & Southern Holdings – will acquire St. Petersburg, Fla.-based C1 Financial, Inc. in an all-stock transaction valued at $402.5 million.

Arkansas State Capitol
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Arkansas’ state government scored a D-, or 35th in the nation, regarding its laws, practices and systems for accountability and transparency, according to a report released Monday by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organization, and Global Integrity, a research organization.

Pipe manufactured in advance of a Keystone XL decision sits idle outside of an east Little Rock plant.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

President Barack Obama on Friday (Nov. 6) rejected the Keystone XL pipeline proposal after a lengthy State Department review of the controversial project. The move ignited a barrage of criticism from Arkansas’ Congressional delegation and the oil and gas industry.

“Shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security,” Obama said in a press conference with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry at this side.

A long-term highway bill appears to be headed to conference with all four Arkansas members of the U.S. House of Representatives voting with the majority to approve the bill. The 371-54 vote on HR 22 came Thursday morning after debate late Wednesday involving dozens of amendments for the bill.

Stock Photo

The October Arkansas tax revenue report shows a 1% gain in overall collections, but a healthy increase in fiscal year-to-date sales and use tax revenue which is a signal of consumer confidence.

For the first four months of the fiscal year which began in July, state tax collections total $2.012 billion, up 1% compared to the same period in 2014 and 3.4% above what was forecast, according to the revenue report posted Tuesday (Nov. 3) by the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration.

Arkansas’ two U.S. Senators voted against a bipartisan budget agreement that passed the Senate early Friday morning and now heads to the president’s desk. 

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 passed the Senate, 64-35. It passed the House earlier this week, 266-167. President Obama is expected to sign it.

It was a busy Wednesday in the nation’s capital as the House overwhelmingly approved a two-year budget blueprint for the nation, while the Senate passed a three-week extension to the nation’s highway bill.

The House voted late Wednesday 266-167 to approve HR 1314, an $80 billion funding bill that was supported by 79 Republicans and 187 Democrats while the bill was opposed by 167 Republicans.

Cheryl Smith Gardner, Executive Director Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace Board and board member Mike Castleberry speaking to a legislative committee.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) that provides insurance for small business employees is ready to launch Nov. 1 and has already enrolled its first employer, officials announced Wednesday.

At the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace’s Little Rock headquarters, Jim Miles, president of Jonesboro-based insurance broker Covenant Medical Benefits, said his company had enrolled eight employees quickly and easily.

“Simply put, it works,” he said.

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