Arkansas Business

Tyson
Tyson Foods

The Supreme Court has ruled for more than 3,000 workers at a Tyson Foods Inc. pork-processing plant in Iowa in a pay dispute with the company.

Although the manufacturing sector in Arkansas and the rest of the U.S. has been mired in a recent slump, a new report from Oxford Economics says U.S. productivity from the blue collar-friendly segment of the economy is still the strongest in the world and will maintain its competitive edge over China and other economies.

Interstate 30
Arkansas Highway & Transportation Dept.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) has floated the idea of cutting the state’s largest economic development incentive program as a funding source for highways, but the idea is being resisted by those who say the program cuts the cost of manufacturing plant upgrades and helps retain jobs in Arkansas.

The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce for the first time is making independent expenditures in state legislative races. The expenditures are paying for mailers backing candidates who support Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s Medicaid expansion plan, Arkansas Works.

Chamber President and CEO Randy Zook said Thursday that the expenditures were being made in “a couple, three Senate races; a couple, three House races.” He said the expenditures were being made to “people who have been targeted by other groups for defeat because of that single vote.”

Talk Business and Politics

Editor’s note: The Arkansas Transportation report is managed by Talk Business & Politics and sponsored by the Arkansas Trucking Association and the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/AIA. Other transportation industry related stories can be found on the Arkansas Transportation Report landing page.

walmart wal-mart
Walmart

Arkansas-based Walmart is closing its small format stores, called Walmart Express. But the decision has upset the leaders of many small towns who are losing their only grocery store.

In this week's issue of Arkansas Business, reporter Mark Friedman writes about a change in strategy by the retail giant concerning the small stores that it began opening five years ago.

Tyson Foods Profits Up Sharply In Latest Report

Feb 5, 2016
Tyson
Tyson Foods

Tyson Foods’ first quarter profits soared past expectations as the meat giant added $461 million to its corporate coffers to begin fiscal 2016. 

Net Income rose 49% from the same period of last year with strong results in chicken and a turnaround in beef, the company reported Friday.

Market watchers Not Surprised Wal-Mart Exiting Small Format Business

Jan 27, 2016
walmart wal-mart
Walmart

Analysts, insiders and other retail watchers said a change in top bosses in Bentonville is one reason why Wal-Mart Stores got out of the small-ball retail game, even with Target, H-E-B and other competitors still investing in small format retail.

The Little Rock Technology Park Authority on Wednesday (Jan. 13) moved two steps closer to jump-starting the first phase of the downtown development the city hopes to market to attract startups, entrepreneurs and establish a tech focus to the city’s Creative Corridor.

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.

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.

Walton Family Foundation To Fund Arkansas Charter Schools

Jan 8, 2016
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Walton Family Foundation says it will be reviewing funding request from charter schools in Arkansas following the announcement of a billion dollar gift to be spent in about 22 states over five years.

Marc Sternberg, head of education policy at the foundation, said the strength of school leadership will weigh heavily in picking schools to fund in 2016.

"We'll be overwhelming focused on growing the charter sector," he said, "because that's where the opportunity is to increase high-quality, autonomous schools of choice." 

A foundation run by the heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton plans to spend $1 billion on public schools over the next five years.

The Walton Family Foundation planned to notify patrons Thursday that it hopes to establish new charter schools and help programs already in place. The money will be spent in about two dozen states where it has already aided programs.

Charter schools are privately run but receive public funding. Many are dedicated to the arts or to science and technology.

Stock Photo

A year-ending survey of business contacts indicated that nearly half expect economic conditions in 2016 will be somewhat better than in 2015 as employment growth continue to strengthen across the state, according to the Federal Reserve’s “Burgundy Book.”

The report provides statistical and anecdotal notes on 62 of the state’s 75 counties. The Little Rock Zone covers six state metro areas, including Little Rock/North Little Rock/Conway, Pine Bluff, Hot Springs, Texarkana, Fort Smith and Fayetteville/Springdale/Rogers.

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.

J.B. Hunt To Add More Than 1,000 Corporate Jobs In Northwest Arkansas

Dec 10, 2015
Johnelle Hunt J.B. Hunt
Talk Business & Politics

Lowell-based J.B. Hunt Transport Services announced Wednesday a corporate expansion plan that will add more than 1,000 jobs in Northwest Arkansas in the next six years.

Main Street Little Rock creative corridor
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

The Little Rock Technology Park Authority on Wednesday unveiled the architectural plans for the first phase of the much-discussed multimillion dollar downtown development that has been in the works now for eight years.

Mike Preston
Talk Business & Politics

Fresh off his 8-day trip to Japan and China, AEDC executive director Mike Preston said the announcement of a $1.36 billion agreement with Sun Paper Co. will not likely result in the need for a legislative “superproject” special session.

“I think we have a very aggressive incentive package on the table,” Preston said. “There’s still some negotiations to go, but I don’t think we’ll have to go to the legislature.”

The Little Rock Technology Park Authority agreed on Tuesday to make a $1,037,000 counter offer to attorney Richard Mays to purchase his firm’s downtown office Tuesday, opening the door for the publicly-financed authority to move forward with the first phase of a tech park to boost entrepreneurship.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) has signed a “letter of intent on investment cooperation” with Chinese-based Shandong Sun Paper Industry Joint Stock Co. to pursue a $1.3 billion pulp mill to be located in south Arkansas.

In attendance at the signing ceremony were U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Gov. Hutchinson, Chairman and Founder of Sun Paper Co. Hongxin Li, Arkansas Economic Development Director Mike Preston, and U.S. Consulate General Charles Bennett.

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.

healthcare accelerator warwick sabin troy wells asa hutchinson
KATV, Channel 7 News

A joint effort by Baptist Health and the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub has been formed to accelerate the development of up to 10 health care-related startup companies.

Arkansas Unemployment Rate Down To 5.2 Percent In September

Oct 20, 2015
Stock Photo

Arkansas’s unemployment rate  dropped to 5.2 percent in September according to the state's Department of Workforce Services. 

There were 2,500 fewer unemployed Arkansans in September. 1,400 workers left the job market and 1,100 new workers found employment. 

"The size of the civilian labor force declined slightly, as the decrease in the number of unemployed more than offset the gain in employment," Susan Price from the department explained in a statement. 

Windstream Corp. announced Monday it has entered into a definitive agreement with TierPoint of St. Louis to sell the Little Rock telecom’s data center business in an all cash deal worth $575 million.

Former Arkansas Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller (R) joins William Dillard II, Dr. George Mitchell and Patricia Upton to be inducted into the 2016 class of the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame. The four join 70 men and women in the Hall of Fame, with the induction ceremony set for Feb. 12, 2016.

The Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas and the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame Board announced on Wednesday (Oct. 14) the inductees.

news.walmart.com

Walmart Stores, Inc. has laid off 450 workers at its headquarters as the world's largest retailer attempts to become more nimble to compete with the likes of Amazon.com.

There are more than 18,000 people who work at the headquarters Bentonville, Arkansas. The cuts were across all areas, from finance to global e-commerce. The company says that the employees were spoken to individually early on Friday.

The announcement follows months of rumors about headquarters cuts and arrived a month and a half after Walmart trimmed its annual earnings outlook as profits fell.

Arkansas Opposition To Expanded Federal Fiduciary Rule

Sep 28, 2015
Rep. Steve Womack, R-Arkansas (far right), at a Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee hearing on February 25, 2015. (U.S. House)
arkansasbusiness.com

The US Department of Labor is pushing forward a proposed rule to standardize fiduciary responsibility among those who give retirement and financial advice and Arkansas’s congressional delegation is providing resistance.

Gwen Mortiz with Arkansas Business reports in this week’s edition that advisors aren’t always required by law to act in a client’s best interest.

Gov. Radio Address: Career Centers

Sep 19, 2015
Asa Hutchinson unveiling his thoughts on Medicaid expansion in early 2015.
Arkansas Times

The following is a transcript of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's radio address for the weekend of Sept. 18, 2015:

This year, we worked hard to fund four new Career Centers in Ashdown, Clarksville, Mountain Home and Paris, Arkansas. This gives us more than 32 Career Centers in Arkansas. These are vital programs and an important part of our workforce training.

Why? It’s simple. They help our graduates land good jobs.

In turn, a better-educated workforce attracts more businesses and industries. That’s a cycle we want to see repeated again and again.

A view of the Jefferson County Courthouse in Pine Bluff from inside the historic, but crumbling Hotel Pines.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

As officials try to turn Little Rock’s Main Street into a vibrant Creative Corridor other central Arkansas towns are sorting through their own urban plans. Both Hot Springs and Pine Bluff have recently sought solutions to clear debris from collapsed structures with cash strapped owners. 

Mark Friedman has been reporting on the issue with Arkansas Business.

David Monteith / KUAR

Revitalizing the downtown Main Street area by making it a hub for arts organizations is a project first conceived by Mayor Mark Stodola in 2007. Eight years in the making, he looks forward to announcing the completion of the first phase.

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