Arkansas Business

Arkansas Businesses Ready To Trade With Cuba As Restrictions Lifted

Sep 22, 2016
Cuba
Jorge Royan / Wikimedia Commons

Candlemaker Burt Hanna, rice and grain operators and even an oil importer in Arkansas are ready to do business with Cuba, held back only by an embargo rendered 56 years ago that has only served to help impoverish a neighboring nation, according to Melvin Torres.

Loreal
clintonfoundation.org

Cosmetics maker L'Oreal USA is building thousands of solar panels at manufacturing facilities in Kentucky and Arkansas, a move the company says will help cut carbon emissions and create two of the biggest solar-powered projects in each state.

The subsidiary of the L'Oreal Group said Tuesday it plans to install 5,000 solar panels at its Florence, Kentucky, plant and another 4,000 at its North Little Rock, Arkansas, plant, with both projects expected to be operational by the middle of next year.

A subsidiary of American Airlines has announced plans to establish a new aircraft maintenance facility at Little Rock's airport, a move that is expected to create 60 new jobs over five years.

Envoy Air Inc. announced plans Tuesday for the new facility at the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock. The new facility will provide scheduled overnight maintenance for Envoy's 76-seat Embraer 175 aircraft as well as line maintenance for the 15 daily American Eagle flights at the Little Rock airport.

David Monteith / KUAR

Low-wage workers and local leaders are continuing to push for an increase to the minimum wage in Arkansas.

Local protests for a $15 an hour minimum wage were first seen in late 2014 outside fast food restaurants in central Arkansas. Those efforts were part of a nationwide movement known as Fight for 15.

In this election year organizers took their protest to the steps of the state Capitol. Jay Harris, a member of Fight for 15, said there are many reasons for supporting an increased minimum wage.

City Board To Consider Paying Bonus To Employees Who Live In Town

Aug 31, 2016
River Market District
inarkansas.com

New employees of the City of Little Rock may receive a financial incentive to reside within the municipality.

The city’s Board of Directors is considering a $5,000 dollar gift for employees who buy homes in town, or $2,500 to employees who rent in Little Rock. The board discussed possible residency incentive for city employees at its meeting Tuesday.

City spokesperson Jennifer Godwin says the proposal was inspired by a recent failed initiative to require police officers to live within city limits.

Stock Photo

Talk Business and Politics reports:

Low interest rates, stable loan demand and hyper competition characterized the banking climate in the state and nation, with net income for all U.S. banks up 1.46% in the second quarter of 2016.

American Railcar Industries will add up to 60 jobs at a new manufacturing facility in Paragould. Corbitt Manufacturing, a component manufacturing operation with ARI, will begin production at the new facility this month, according to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, along with local leaders, made the announcement Wednesday in Paragould. ARI already has plants in Paragould, and Marmaduke that employ about 1,000 workers, according to the company.

Wal-Mart Expected To Report Decent Earnings On Flat Revenue

Aug 15, 2016

Despite a hit and miss retail environment, Wall Street analysts expect Wal-Mart Stores will have decent quarter fueled in part by strong grocery sales. The consensus estimate is for net income to top $3.2 billion in the second quarter, just short of the $3.475 billion reported a year ago.

Earnings per share are expected to be $1.02, compared to $1.08 in the year-ago period according to the consensus of 24 analysts who follow the company. Earnings per share are expected to be 5.5% lower than a year ago. Total revenue is expected to be $120.29 billion, flat against last year.

Tyson Food
Compassion Over Killing

An animal rights group has released an undercover video that shows Tyson Foods workers abusing and improperly killing chickens at various breeding facilities in Virginia.

The video prompted the Arkansas firm to announce Thursday that it fired the workers for failing to follow company policies and would "aggressively re-emphasize" its animal welfare protocols to current workers. The company also said it would end a practice that involves inserting plastic into chickens' beaks to control how much they eat.

Conway has landed another Fortune 500 company.

Already home to top-tier companies such as Acxiom, HP, International Paper and Kimberly-Clark, Insight – a global provider of information technology solutions – announced it will add a sales center in the Meadows Office and Technology Park in Conway. Talk Business & Politics reports Insight expects to hire 50 more workers in Conway to its new, existing workforce of around 170.

Sun Paper
Governor's Office

Sun Paper Industry of China says the planned early 2017 construction start for a $1.3 billion superproject in Clark County will likely be pushed back because of ongoing pre-engineering and feasibility studies for the bio-product paper mill.

“They are still trying to nail down some of the issues involving the project and it has taken more time than was expected,” said Julie Mullenix of Little Rock-based Mullenix & Associates, a local governmental relations, PR and lobbying firm.

Members of the Arkansas Rice Federation have traveled to Cuba to discuss the future of trade between the U.S. and Cuba.
 
The delegation, which included Arkansas Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward, was briefed on developments in Cuban farming and also met with representatives of the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Foreign Trade, Havana University and Alimport, the state-owned operation responsible for agricultural imports and exports.
 

Arkansas Economic Development Commission Director Mike Preston.
TalkBusiness.net

Arkansas officials say a lumber mill that shut down six years ago is reopening, creating 136 new jobs.
 
The state Economic Development Commission on Wednesday announced that Caddo River Forest Products is spending up to $50 million to re-open the Glenwood sawmill. Officials said they expect another 200 to 300 indirect jobs to be created through the project.
 

Walmart Looks To Partner On E-commerce And Expand Sam’s Club In China

Jun 21, 2016
walmart wal-mart
Walmart

Walmart.com is looking for some help to grow its e-commerce, retail footprint and scale in China. The retailer announced Monday plans to partner with JD.com, a major online marketplace player in China.

The deal involves a wide range of business initiatives involving online and in-store retail ventures of Walmart and Sam’s Club.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Traffic at Arkansas’ three largest commercial airports improved in May, and shipping on the Arkansas River has recovered from the rain-induced slowdown in 2015, according to information in the June edition of the Arkansas Transportation Report.

Drone Amazon
AP / NPR.org

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is testing drones that it says will help it manage its warehouse inventory more efficiently, and which it says could be rolled out in the next six to nine months across its distribution centers.

Talk Business and Politics reports:

Retail giant Walmart is betting big on grocery pickup as a way to fend off Amazon’s fresh home delivery offering. But while the efforts are being accelerated by Walmart, consumers are slow to adopt the new service, according to a study by Fayetteville-based Field Agent and consultants close to the situation.

 

Talk Business and Politics reports

Gov. Asa Hutchinson recently touted to business leaders that the state has added 42,000 new jobs and reached an all-time low jobless rate of 3.9% during the first 16 months of his administration.

Authorities say two people have been injured in an explosion and fire at a defense technology manufacturing plant in southern Arkansas.

Ron Nash, assistant chief of the Camden fire department, says a report of a possible explosion at Esterline Defense Technologies came in just before 7 p.m. Monday.

Nash says the blast affected only one building and firefighters were able to contain the blaze.

He says two people were hurt. It wasn't immediately clear if they were employees, and Nash didn't know the extent of their injuries.

Gretchen Hall
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gretchen Hall, CEO of the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, likes the numbers she sees.

Last year, Pulaski County accounted for 13,000 travel-related jobs and 6.1 million visitors who spent nearly $1.8 billion in travel expenditures. That translates into more than $31 million in travel-related local taxes and $69 million in travel-related state taxes.

Why is the capital city so attractive for visitors?

Northwest Arkansas Workers' Justice Center

A report from international advocacy group Oxfam says poultry workers in the United States labor in a "climate of fear," with some forced to wear diapers on the job.

It says many workers are afraid to ask for permission to go to the bathroom. The report says a worker at a Simmons Foods plant in Arkansas told Oxfam that she and many others resorted to wearing diapers. A Tyson Foods worker says in the report that many workers at his North Carolina plant "have to urinate in their pants."

Tyson
Tyson Foods

Talk Business and Politics reports:

Before the market opens Monday, Tyson Foods is expected to post $403 million in net income for the second quarter of fiscal 2016 which ended. That equates to a Wall Street consensus of $1.03 per share, up 38% over the 75 cents per share reported in the same quarter of 2015.

The company posted net income of $313 million in the year-ago period.

rice fields
Mickey Liaw / Flickr.com

Business growth in Arkansas lost a step in April as a leading economic indicator for the region shows the state’s manufacturing, farming and energy sectors continue to shed jobs and affect overall economic expansion.

Communications Sales & Leasing Inc. on Monday completed its $409 million acquisition of PEG Bandwidth LLC, a Lewisville, Texas-based operator of dark fiber and cell site backhaul assets for mostly rural telecom carriers and enterprises.

www.sunpapergroup.com/

The investment in south Arkansas by one of China's largest private companies, Sun Paper, is considered a win by state economic development officials. However, some have concerns about the implications of the country's manufacturing practices and what it will mean for workers at the new bio-products mill near Arkadelphia. 

Tyson
Tyson Foods

The Carroll County Quorum Court judge has authorized incentives that will help a Springdale-based meat processor build its first new plant in years.

Arkansas Business reports that the $136 million Tyson Foods Inc. plant will be built across the street from another one of the company's plants in Green Forest, with a corridor connecting the two.

Tyson officials say the project will bring about 85 jobs to the county, where it already has more than 2,600 employees.

Tyson
Tyson Foods

Tyson Foods Inc. has announced a proposal to build a new processing facility near its existing poultry plant in Green Forest.

The Springdale-based company says the $136 million project is contingent in part on the approval of incentives from Carroll County and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. The company says the project would create about 85 jobs once it's fully operational.

Group For Ending Cuba Embargo Launches Arkansas Council

Apr 11, 2016
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

A national group of business leaders and others working to open trade with Cuba launched a state council in Little Rock Monday.

James Williams, President of the umbrella group, Engage Cuba, said Arkansas lawmakers are leading the effort to lift the 55 year-old trade embargo against the country. 

Cuba is the number one rice consumer in the Western Hemisphere, he said, adding he believes it is "ridiculous" the country cannot purchase U.S. products on credit.

"We're 90 miles away and they're buying their rice in Vietnam. We're all outraged by that fact.”

One month does not make a trend, but a more than 21% gain in home sales during January in Arkansas’ four large markets continues the momentum of 2015 in which home sales were up almost 10% – with a December that had an almost 20% gain.

Home sales in Arkansas’ four largest markets totaled 1,484 in January, up 21.24% compared to January 2015 and up 18.3% compared to January 2014. All four markets posted double-digit growth in January, according to The Arkansas Home Sales Report.

Walmart.com Lags E-commerce Industry Growth Despite Hefty Investments

Mar 29, 2016

With 40 million customers per month, Walmart.com is the 15th largest online shopping site, despite being the world’s largest retailer. Few market watchers are convinced the Bentonville-based retailer’s multi-billion dollar e-commerce investments will move the ranking too much higher.

Walmart’s online traffic equals just 7% of weekly store traffic and only 2% of the sales. The majority of Walmart’s online shoppers also shop in the retailer’s stores, with 80% at least once a month and half once a week, according to analysts with Cleveland Research.

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