Arkansas Business

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.

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.

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