Arkansas Business

John Glasgow
Arkansas Business

The remains of a Little Rock construction executive who went missing in 2008 have been found in Petit Jean State Park.

Conway County Sheriff Mike Smith confirmed that hikers found a skull on Wednesday afternoon about 150 yards off Red Bluff Drive in the park. The remains were taken to the State Crime Laboratory Thursday morning.

Leslie Rutledge attorney general
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says she will testify before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee.

Rutledge announced Tuesday that she has accepted an invitation to testify Thursday before the Oversight Subcommittee on the Interior and will discuss U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations and the impact of those regulations on the states.

Rutledge said in a statement that "the EPA continues to pile on burdensome regulations" that she says harms Arkansas' existing industry and makes it difficult to attract new industry.

Ground Broken On FedEx Little Rock Distribution Hub

Feb 19, 2015
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Local officials are heralding the arrival of a new 300,000 square foot Fed-Ex Ground facility on the outskirts of Little Rock. Amid a few remaining horse pastures and cattle ranches, a now-barren field in the Mabelvale neighborhood, will, by August 2016, give rise to the new shipping hub behemoth.

This expansion includes “job opportunities for the great workforce in the area and continued growth for FedEx Ground, ” according to Don Davis, Managing Director of the company's Mississippi Valley region.

The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation has granted the EAST Initiative and the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub $35,000 to support and encourage entrepreneurship in Central Arkansas, Talk Business & Politics reports.

Three technology companies announced plans to locate new facilities in downtown Conway, investing $2.5 million and adding 140 new jobs.

Talk Business and Politics report Metova Inc., a mobile app development company; Big Cloud Analytics, a predictive analytics software company; and Eyenalyze, a Conway-based company that has developed innovative software for use in the food service sector; will invest a combined $2.5 million and create 140 new jobs.

walmart
Walmart

Wal-Mart has announced it will cut about 50 positions at its company headquarters in Bentonville.

KHOG-TV reports a company representative said Wednesday the layoffs will affect multiple departments and that no more are expected at this time.

In a statement, the retailer said it's common for individual departments to make adjustments around February, which is the start of the company's fiscal year, to better support their and the company's goals.

Wal-Mart says affected employees can apply for other positions within the company.

Delta Regional Authority To Host Pitch Competitions

Jan 15, 2015

The Delta Regional Authority is working to identify and nurture entrepreneurs from the Delta and the so-called “Alabama Black Belt” through The Delta Challenge, a series of entrepreneurship pitch competitions, and by offering support to organizations that foster entrepreneurship.

Up to 16 Entrepreneurship Network Fellows will be named through Delta Challenge pitch competitions that will take place in five cities across the Delta, including one in Jonesboro on Feb. 28. Others will be held in Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Ruston, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; and Linden, Alabama.

Arkansas small business owners have the opportunity to learn more about the state’s health insurance marketplaces during a free webinar Tuesday. The on-line seminar will explore topics related to the costs and benefits of using the marketplaces.

Edward Haddock with the Small Business Administration said the information presented will be relevant even as the Arkansas Legislature discusses the future of healthcare in the state.

Carrie Ford Arkansas Venture Center
Talk Business & Politics

A new study from the Kauffman Foundation centered on women entrepreneurship concluded that more female business owners could have the same economic impact today that the entry of women in the 20th century labor force had generations ago.

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

An alderman in Fayetteville is ready to try again to put an anti-discrimination ordinance in place but a state senator in northwest Arkansas hopes to strip Fayetteville, and local governments statewide, from having the authority to pass such ordinances. 

Earlier this month voters in Fayetteville narrowly chose to repeal an anti-discrimination ordinance designed to provide protection and recourse in housing, employment, and public accommodations to historically discriminated against populations - including LGBT people.   

Connect Arkansas Unveils Small Business Initiative

Nov 18, 2014

Connect Arkansas said it is conducting a statewide study among small- and medium-sized businesses to develop strategies to help those companies capitalize on the digital economy.

The project is a collaboration between Connect Arkansas, its parent company, Arkansas Capital Corp. Group, and broadband research firm Strategic Networks Group. Businesses with less than 100 employees are invited to participate.

Arkansas-Based Tyson Foods Tops $864 Million In Net Income

Nov 17, 2014
Tyson
Tyson Foods

Meat giant Tyson Foods recorded strong revenue growth and profits as it integrates its recent acquisition of Hillshire Brands into an already beefed up food conglomerate.

The Springdale-based protein company posted fourth quarter net income of $137 million, down from $261 million a year ago, on revenue of $10.105 billion. However, adjusted net income per share grew by 24% to 87 cents per share for the latest quarter, up from 70 cents per share for the 2013 fourth quarter.

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s European business development director was introduced on Friday as honorary consul for the Czech Republic in Arkansas.

Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the U.S., Petr Gandalovič, introduced Lenka Horakova into the office of the Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic at a ceremony held Friday at the Governor’s Mansion.

A federal judge has sentenced a former northwest Arkansas developer to more than five years in prison. Brandon Barber was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Fort Smith after pleading guilty last year to bank fraud, bankruptcy fraud and money laundering.

Federal prosecutors had accused Barber of concealing his assets and income after he filed for bankruptcy, as well as defrauding banks for loans to finance real estate projects.

Gloria Smith Canvasses To Get Out The Vote
PBS NewsHour

This story was jointly produced by KUAR's Jacob Kauffman with PBS NewsHour.

This election, voters in several states including Arkansas will go to the polls and vote on proposals to raise the state minimum wage.

The Arkansas rate is $6.25 an hour. The state is one of three with a rate below the federal minimum wage, and that has political groups out canvassing neighborhoods to get support for the increase.

A judge is giving Big River Steel more time to respond to a federal lawsuit that seeks to stop the billion-dollar project from moving forward in northeast Arkansas.

U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes agreed Wednesday for a 28-day extension for the company to respond to the federal lawsuit filed by Nucor Steel. The lawsuit seeks to block Big River Steel from building its $1.3 billion steel mill south of Osceola and also seeks a revocation of the company's air permit issued by the state.

wood pellets
Wikimedia Commons

A new $130 million dollar wood pellet plant is to be built in Pine Bluff, creating 35 new jobs.

Highland Pellets announced Wednesday that groundbreaking is expected in October, with deliveries scheduled to begin in March 2016.

The facility will produce wood pellets, which can be used as an alternative fuel source.

Last month, another company announced plans for a wood pellet plant in south Arkansas. Zilkha Biomass Energy says it will build a plant in Monticello, creating 52 jobs.

Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport Proposes Renovations

Aug 19, 2014
Sarah Whites-Koditschek

The Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport announced a $20.5 million concourse renovation plan Tuesday. The proposal includes a modernized interior, additional gate seating with chargers for portable devices, new jet bridges and new arrival and departure monitors.

According to Ronald Mathieu, Executive Director of the Clinton National Airport, ridership was down five percent last year. He said interior improvements will be good for business.

Arkansas Times

Whirlpool Corp. is seeking additional testing for toxic chemicals in Fort Smith and the area Boys & Girls Club based on new contamination findings.

The Southwest Times Record reports Whirlpool spokesman Jeff Noel told youth club directors Tuesday that the company is seeking permission to test for trichloroethylene. The chemical is linked to increased cancer risks.

Noel says monitoring equipment has discovered the chemical in local groundwater but not soil. He says further testing is needed to determine if contaminants migrated under a road and onto the club property.

Local Fast Food Workers Protest For Higher Wages

Aug 1, 2014
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

After the general counsel for National Labor Relations Board said this week fast-food chain McDonald’s could be held liable along with its franchises for any labor violations, a demonstration was held outside one Little Rock restaurant on Friday.  

Wood Pellet Manufacturer Locates In Monticello

Jul 30, 2014

Monticello will soon be the site of a facility specializing in the production of a dense, water resistant wood pellet, marketed as an alternative to coal fuel. The Houston, Texas-based Zilkha Biomass Energy will locate the first facility of its kind in the state, choosing an area known for its timber production and densely forested lands. The company says it will employ 52 people and invest 90 million dollars in the area, according to a news release.

Tyson
Tyson Foods

Tyson Foods says it will sell its poultry businesses in Mexico and Brazil for $575 million in cash to help pay debt tied to its acquisition of Hillshire Brands.

The company expects the sale to JBS' Pilgrim's Pride, which is based in Greeley, Colorado, to be completed by the end of the year.

Tyson's Mexico and Brazil operations employ more than 10,000 people combined.

Walmart Bill Simon
Wal-Mart

The CEO of Wal-Mart’s domestic operations is stepping down. The Arkansas-based retailer announced Thursday that Bill Simon will resign August 8th.  He's being replaced by Greg Foran, who is head of the company’s Asia division.

As Arkansas Business reporter Lance Turner explains, after four years in the position, Simon leaves behind a mixed record.

Tyson
Tyson Foods

Tyson Foods Inc. has signed a definitive deal to purchase Hillshire Brands Co. for $7.75 billion, two days after the maker of Jimmy Dean sausages and Ball Park hot dogs was let out of its agreement to buy Pinnacle Foods.

Chicago-based Hillshire agreed to buy Pinnacle Foods Inc. for $4.23 billion in May. But then Tyson and Pilgrim's Pride got into a bidding war for Hillshire, with Hillshire accepting Tyson's $63 per share offer last month.

The city of Fort Smith is atop a latest ranking of the economic performance of Arkansas cities.

The Arkansas Tech Business Index tracks retail sales, construction, the housing market and unemployment rates of 16 Arkansas cities.

Ft. Smith beat out Bentonville, which had been atop previous months’ rankings in business activity. Mark Fusaro is an economist with Arkansas Tech and compiles the business index. He says Ft. Smith’s retail sales have always been strong.

Tyson
Tyson Foods

Meat producer Tyson Foods Inc. of Arkansas has won a bidding war for Hillshire Brands, the maker of Jimmy Dean sausages and Ball Park hot dogs, with a $63 per share offer.

Both Tyson and Pilgrim's Pride had been bidding of Hillshire Brands. Tyson had previously offered $50 per share for the company. Pilgrim's Pride then raised its bid to $55 per share.

Pilgrim's Pride says it is withdrawing its offer. The offer from Tyson is worth $7.75 billion based on Hillshire's 123 million shares outstanding. Tyson values the deal at $8.55 billion, including debt.

A railcar maintenance company is to locate in the former Nordex USA wind turbine plant in Jonesboro and pledges to hire up to 350 employees.

TrinityRail Maintenance Services Inc. announced Thursday that it would expand the facility to accommodate its planned scope of work.

TrinityRail is a subsidiary of Trinity Industries Inc. of Dallas. The company provides an array of industrial products, including railcars, barges, storage containers and other transportation-related goods and services.

arkansas.com

The ultimate biker song could serve as a marketing campaign for a new push from state tourism officials, reports Talk Business & Politics.

In the last two years, Arkansas has begun marketing its scenic highways to motorcyclists who are far from the drifter image painted in cult classic films like “Easy Rider.” We’re not talking Hell’s Angels, says Arkansas Tourism director Joe David Rice.

Economic development officials say a new rice mill is headed to Pine Bluff. The state announced Monday that Southwind Milling Co. LLC will build a rice mill at the city's port.

The corporation is part of Optimum Group, which has been farming in Mississippi Delta states since 2010.

Construction of the new mill is expected to begin immediately at the site in the Pine Bluff Port's Harbor Industrial District. Officials say the plant will be operational by February 2015 and will initially employ 25 people.

Georgia-Pacific says it will invest $40 million in an expansion at its Fort Smith plant, which manufactures paper plates and other paper products.

Georgia-Pacific said Thursday that the new technology and equipment will increase the Dixie plant's current capacity for assorted sizes of paper plates. The plant now employs 350 workers, but the company says that number may grow once the expansion is complete next year.

The company operates 10 facilities throughout Arkansas with more than 2,400 workers in the state.

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