Arkansas Business

  A groundbreaking ceremony has been held for the expansion of Aerojet Rocketdyne's plant in Camden in south Arkansas.

The California-based company was joined by Gov. Asa Hutchinson and state and local officials for Thursday's ceremony.

The project includes new buildings and renovations on the 1,200-acre site and 85 new jobs. The cost of the project was not released, however it is supported with incentives that include funding, tax exemptions, real estate tax grants and reimbursement for training.

The plant produces solid rocket motors used in the defense industry.

The Little Rock Technology Park Authority on Wednesday unanimously approved a measure giving Executive Director Brent Birch the power to negotiate a deal to hire East Harding Inc. as the construction manager for the first phase of the $30 million downtown tech park development.

Fayetteville's City Council in an August meeting on an anti-discrimination ordinance.
Jacqueline Froelich / KUAF

A state judge has ruled a northwest Arkansas city can vote next week on a proposal to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Washington County Circuit Judge Doug Martin on Thursday denied a motion to block next week's special election on the Fayetteville anti-discrimination ordinance.

Opponents of the ordinance had sought a temporary restraining order and had argued, among other things, that the ordinance violated a state law aimed at preventing local anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The University of Central Arkansas Board of Trustees has approved a lease for an on-campus restaurant that plans to sell alcohol.

The lease with Mosaique Bistro and Grill was approved Friday on a 6-1 vote with board member Kay Hinkle voting against it. Retired minister James Davis of Conway also spoke against allowing alcohol sales on campus.

The restaurant will be in Donaghey Hall. The hall is a four-story, two-building development that is under construction with completion expected by fall 2016.

Natural Gas Drilling Mt. Vernon in Faulkner County
Arkansas Times

Arkansas severance tax collections tumbled nearly 59% in the first month of state’s fiscal year 2016 as Fayetteville Shale drillers were unable to sustain production levels due to continued weak natural gas prices, spending cuts and fewer operating rigs.

According to monthly tax data compiled by the Revenue Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration, state tax revenue for natural gas production in July (the first month of fiscal 2016) came in at $3.48 million, compared to $8.4 million a year ago.

Arkansas River
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The long rain-induced nightmare for port, barge and other operators on the Arkansas River may soon be over, but the impact of heavy rains earlier this year pushed river tonnage down more than 25% in July.

Tonnage shipped on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System between January and July totaled 5.135 million in July, down 23% compared to the same period in 2014, according to a monthly report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

John Correnti Big River Steel
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The CEO of the state’s first superproject, Big River Steel CEO John Correnti, was found dead on an out-of-state business trip Tuesday morning, Talk Business & Politics has confirmed.

Correnti, 68, was the driving force for the $1.3 billion steel mill superproject, which is being built near Osceola (Mississippi Co.). As a former CEO of rival Nucor Steel, Correnti was a big fan of Arkansas where he once headed Nucor’s operations in the 1990’s.

Fayetteville-based Sage Partners announced Monday that it has leased 55,882 square feet of space at the former Hawker facility at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport to Mountain Home aviation services firm Fly Arkansas LLC.

Fly Arkansas plans to begin operations at the airport facility in October 2015, offering aircraft leasing, rental, management and other aviation services. This is the company’s third Fixed Based Operator (FBO) facility, and it’s first in Little Rock, company officials said.

'Impasse' on Main Street

Aug 3, 2015
Scott Reed at the relaunch of K Lofts in 2013.
Mauren Kennedy / Arkansas Business

Private developers and the city of Little Rock have been investing in recent years to revive a stretch of Main Street but not all projects in the so-called Creative Corridor are taking off. George Waldon, with Arkansas Business, reports that two mixed-use commercial and residential properties being developed by Scott Reed – K Lofts and Main Street Lofts – are behind schedule and owe contractors more than a million dollars.

The Walmart visitors center in downtown Bentonville.
bentonville.org

The Walton Family Foundation is developing what it is calling an “independent” school in Bentonville for the Northwest Arkansas region, the foundation announced in a press release Thursday.

The release said the school “will also offer a challenging curriculum, small classes, a diverse student body and distinctive architecture.”

ArkansasBusiness.com has details on the arrest of North Little Rock businessman John Rogers. He became known for buying the photo archives of major newspapers across the country and dealing in sports memorabilia like rare baseball cards. But Rogers has been dogged by a series of fraud allegations by banks, business associates, clients and investors.

More International Recognition For Little Rock’s Creative Corridor

Jul 22, 2015
Main Street Little Rock creative corridor
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

The architecture plan to transform Main Street Little Rock into the Creative Corridor has been recognized again.

The University of Arkansas Community Design Center and Marlon Blackwell Architect’s plan, “The Creative Corridor: A Main Street Revitalization for Little Rock,” won Honorable Mention in Urban Design (Concept) of the International Awards 2015 sponsored by Architecture Podium.

Two of Arkansas’ largest publicly traded concerns bounced off yearly lows in Monday’s week-opening session as U.S. stocks endured another day of Wall Street downgrades and uneasy trading following news that Europe had offered Greece a $96 billion bailout deal.

Overall, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 217.27, or 1.2%, to 17977.68. The S&P 500 added 22.98, or 1.1%, to 2099.60, while the technology friendly Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 73.82, or 1.5%, to 5071.51.

JBS USA Pork has agreed to a $1.45 billion deal with Cargill to acquire the company’s U.S.-based pork business, which includes part of the agriculture and food giant’s pork operations in Arkansas.

A May survey of business contacts in the Little Rock Zone of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis shows a little more than half of respondents expect economic conditions in 2015 will be better than in 2014. That’s down from three months earlier, when a little more than 80% were optimistic about the near-term outlook.

Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame Board President Nan Snow introducing the inaugural class.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton, civil rights leader Daisy Bates, and the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate, Hattie Caraway, are among 11 inductees in the first class of the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame. One organization, the Central High School desegregation-era Women’s Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools, also received the honor.

Governor Hutchinson office
Office of the Governor

The following is a transcript of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's radio address for the weekend of June 19, 2015:

In 2009, a 21-year-old interior design major at the University of Arkansas took a risk, trusted her gut, and started her own business on just $100. Today, that business — a clothing boutique called Riffraff — is a million-dollar operation with storefront locations in Fayetteville and Dallas and a strong online presence.

Gov. Radio Address: Promoting Arkansas In Europe

Jun 13, 2015
Office of the Governor

  The following is a transcript of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's Radio Address and Column for the weekend of June 12, 2015:

A few weeks ago, I was in Silicon Valley in California. Last week, I was in Newport and Batesville. Saturday, I leave for Paris and Germany.

The locations change but the business remains the same — economic development for Arkansas.

Jobs.

In 2015, we have to be a national and global competitor. And to compete on a national and global level, we have to market Arkansas at every opportunity. That means being there.

Southwest Steel Processing announced Monday it plans to invest $18 million in its Newport plant, adding a second forging line and creating 100 new jobs over the next two years. The state will contribute an additional $11 million to the project. Scott Hardin, from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, says the company chose to expand in Arkansas due to the capability of the existing workforce and community.

Acxiom To Sell Its Core IT Business For $190 Million, Releases Q4 Earnings In Advance

May 20, 2015
Adam Bartlett / flickr.com

Acxiom Corp. announced that it is getting out of the IT services business as the Little Rock technology company continues to streamline its operations to focus on its core marketing and data services business.

At the same time, Acxiom fourth quarter earnings improved year-over-year although it reported net losses of eight cents per share from continuing operations on revenue of $257 million. That compares with losses of 33 cents year share on sales of $269 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014.

Arkansas-Based Walmart Misses Forecast As Profits Slide In Q1

May 19, 2015
walmart wal-mart
Walmart

Walmart saw its first quarter revenues slide 0.1% but profits fell further as the strong dollar and changes in consumer spending impacted the retail giant’s bottom line.

Charles Zook, son of Arkansas Chamber of Commerce CEO, opposing chamber's role in LRSD state takeover.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

A smattering of protestors lined the plaza of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce Wednesday at noon to denounce its support of the state takeover of Little Rock schools. Charles Zook said his family embodies what he characterizes as a suspect network of influence in the state’s 5-4 decision in late January to dissolve the locally elected school board.

One Million Cups Hits One Year Old, Ready To Move To Next Level

May 12, 2015

Just a year after the first One Million Cups forum landed in Little Rock, local officials are encouraged by the emergence of the program as a key player in the state and region’s flourishing startup community – yet they’re hopeful for an even bigger payoff in the future.

Windstream Q1 Profits Drop 67%

May 7, 2015

Shares in Windstream Holdings Inc. were moving lower in trading Thursday after the Little Rock telecom reported that first quarter earnings fell nearly 67% following the recent spin off its real estate assets more than a week ago.

Profits For Arkansas-Based Tyson Foods Rise Nearly $100 Million

May 4, 2015
Tyson
Tyson Foods

Tyson Foods is making good on its claim that the $8.5 billion acquisition of Hillshire Brands in August 2014 would boost top and bottom lines.

The Springdale-based company reported Monday (May 4) that fiscal second quarter earnings were up 45.5% and earnings in the first half of the fiscal year are up 32.5% compared to the same periods in 2014.

Second quarter net income of $310 million, up from $213 million a year ago, was better than what market watchers expected. The per share earnings of 75 cents was better than the consensus estimate of 72 cents per share.

Aviation Officials Excited About New Law Meant To Help Business In Arkansas

Apr 29, 2015
fly arkansas aviation
www.fly.arkansas.gov

A law passed in the most recent legislative session is meant to help the state attract aviation business that was flying away because of a sales tax Arkansas levied that other states didn’t.

Act 1182 by Rep. Joe Jett, D-Success, enacts a “fly away” provision exempting from taxes aircraft sales where neither the seller nor the buyer are located here.

Lockheed Martin Profits Off 6%, Defense Giant Sees Huge Sales Loss At Camden Operation

Apr 21, 2015

Profits for defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. fell nearly 6% in the first quarter as the company’s Missile and Fire Control (MFC) division loss ground in the first three months of fiscal 2015 due to continued cuts in defense spending by the Pentagon.

It flew under the radar for the most part, but a significant piece of legislation may make Arkansas a much easier place to start or run a business, Talk Business & Politics reports.

Act 1190, co-sponsored by Speaker Jeremy Gillam and Sen. Eddie Joe Williams, allows the Secretary of State’s office to create a portal for businesses to submit licenses, permits and applications through one interface.

Arkansas Natural Gas Drilling Declines, With Fewest Rigs In Decade

Apr 7, 2015
Natural Gas Drilling Mt. Vernon in Faulkner County
Arkansas Times

Arkansas’ rig count has fallen to levels not seen in nearly a decade as natural gas drillers and oilfield equipment firms continue to cut capital spending as oil and gas prices search for a bottom.

At the same time, Arkansas severance tax collections hit a sudden headwind, falling precipitously by 47.5% from $6.08 million a year ago to nearly $3.19 million in February. State tax revenue for natural gas production also fell nearly 50% from $6.27 million in January, according to tax data compiled by the Revenue Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration.

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson met with a group of small business owners to talk about how government should work alongside the private sector and take questions from the crowd.

About 25 people gathered Tuesday for Small Business Day at the Capitol hosted by the National Federation of Independent Business.

Hutchinson touted his own roots as the owner of a FM radio station in Bentonville. He says he wants to grow the private sector of the state economy instead of the government and that Arkansas needs to stay competitive with surrounding states.

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