Arkansas Economy

Governor's Office / YouTube

The group tasked with disbursing the $1.25 billion Arkansas received from the CARES Act has approved new funds to go toward stabilizing the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.

Members of the state CARES Act steering committee on Friday voted to approve the infusion of $165 million from the federal coronavirus bailout to the fund at a meeting held virtually. This comes as the panel faced a deadline of Sept. 30 to stabilize the fund, otherwise employers would have to pay an extra $10 per employee per year in taxes.

Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration building in Little Rock.
KUAR News

As measured by double-digit gains in sales tax revenue in the state’s August report, Arkansans continued to spend through the summer despite COVID-19 worries, with gross revenue up almost 30% to $1.331 billion during the first two months (July-August 2020) of the fiscal year.

The gross general revenue was up 29.4% compared to the same period in 2019, and up 11.2% above the budget forecast, according to Wednesday’s report from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA).

Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration building in Little Rock.
KUAR News

Arkansas State tax revenue in July totaled $766.8 million, up 47.2% thanks to an almost 90% growth in individual income tax resulting from a tax deadline shift from April to July, according to Tuesday’s report from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

Fiocchi
Fiocchi of America

A 225-year old Italian company with a large North American presence is expanding manufacturing operations in Central Arkansas.

Fiocchi of America, the U.S. subsidiary of Italy-based Fiocchi Group, announced plans Wednesday to establish a new manufacturing facility in Little Rock. It will invest $15 million in a new facility and hire 85 skilled employees with plans to further increase its workforce as the facility reaches its full potential.

npr.org

When the coronavirus pandemic first reached Arkansas in mid-March, Alma Mayor Jerry Martin took action.

“When I thought about it, it would be best for our employees to go ahead and furlough now while they could take advantage of the unemployment setup the way that it was, than to wait until September, October and us be at a place where it looked like we were going to have a hard time making payroll and paying bills,” Martin said.

walmart
Walmart

Arkansas-based Walmart announced Tuesday its third cash bonus for workers in stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers for their work with the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Full-time hourly workers will receive $300 cash payouts while part-time and temporary workers will get $150. Drivers, managers and assistant managers in retail stores and supply chain and health and wellness will also receive bonuses for a total of $428 million.

Walmart made the announcement through an internal memo to employees from Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner.

Amazon
Amazon

Amazon announced Tuesday plans to open its first fulfillment center at the Port of Little Rock. The new fulfillment center, which is anticipated to launch in 2021, will create over 1,000 new full-time jobs.

The 825,000 square-foot distribution facility will be located on 80 acres at the port and will benefit from yesterday’s announcement of upgrades to road infrastructure.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Arkansas revenue has surpassed predictions revised because of the COVID-19 pandemic as the state sees another triple-digit increase in new coronavirus cases.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday the state saw 520 new coronavirus cases, bringing the state’s total to 20,777, while five more Arkansans died from COVID-19 bringing the state’s death toll to 270.

David Monteith / KUAR News

Despite Arkansas seeing a record number of COVID-19 cases, the state is moving on to Phase Two of reopening, guided by the Trump Administration's Opening Up America Again Guidelines. Under Phase Two, which began Monday restaurants are allowed to operate at two-thirds capacity for dine-in services. Not all restaurants are eager to reopen however.

Mark Abernathy Loca Luna
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas restaurants were allowed to begin reopening for dine-in service Monday, but many are waiting until they feel more comfortable letting patrons back in during the coronavirus outbreak. Some also said that with already thin profit margins, it doesn’t make sense from a business perspective to reopen.

David Monteith / KUAR News

Numbers from Arkansas's monthly revenue report are beginning to show the economic impact of the coronavirus.

The report was released Monday by the state's Department of Finance and Administration. John Shelnutt, an economist with the department, pointed out the data represents transactions from March and social distancing measures were only in effect for half that month.

"We expected large losses in major categories, and, in most cases they were not as bad as we predicted." Shelnutt said.

Cynergy Cargo, an enclosed cargo trailer manufacturer headquartered in Douglas, Georgia, announced Thursday that it will build a new facility in the Crossett Industrial Park. The company plans to hire 70 new, full-time employees within 24 months, including carpenters, welders, and electricians.

Cynergy currently employs about 60 people at its facility in Douglas where it runs two lines. The company chose to expand in Crossett to be closer to customers and increase production with a third line.

Arkansas Unemployment
Stock Photo

The surge in Arkansas jobless claims receded last week by 44%, according to Thursday’s U.S. Department of Labor report. Arkansas’ total for the week ending April 11 was 34,635, down from a spike of 62,086 the week prior.

The latest data pushed Arkansas’ total the past four weeks to 133,752.

LM Wind Power
KATV-Channel 7

Once heralded as an advanced manufacturing success for Arkansas, LM Wind Power announced it will close its wind blade facility that has been in existence for more than a decade.

A spokesperson for GE Reneweable Energy, parent company to LM Wind Power, tells KATV television that the site will close later this year due to a decrease in demand for wind blades made at the plant.

Little Rock Port Authority Port of Little Rock
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. announced that retail giant Amazon has bought an 80-acre site at the Port of Little Rock for $3.2 million.

“We have settled upon acquisition of land with Amazon online,” Scott said, according to KATV, channel 7.

Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration building in Little Rock.
KUAR News

Small indications of the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak could be showing in Arkansas's most recent revenue report. The March report, released Thursday, reflects mainly taxable transactions from February, before local and national recommendations for social distancing were widely in effect.

Sun Paper
Governor's Office

Representatives of Sun Paper Co., the $1.5 billion paper mill project slated for Clark County near Arkadelphia, have said the deal is officially terminated.

In a letter dated March 15, Andrzej Bednarski, International Project Director for Shandong Sun Paper Co., Ltd. notified Gov. Asa Hutchinson and AEDC officials that the project would not move forward, citing trade tensions, economic uncertainty, and the coronavirus outbreak as reasons for pulling the plug.

A new report funded by Entergy Arkansas and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation indicates that 41% of Arkansas households are either below the federal poverty level or have incomes that struggle to afford housing, childcare, food, transportation and healthcare.

The report addresses “ALICE” households – those that are “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed.” While the federal poverty line for a family of four sits at $24,600, ALICE households are between that amount and $46,812.

Create Bridges

A new pilot program from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service is seeking the input and information from employees in certain sectors.

Create Bridges is a project studying rural economic development, in particular the retail, tourism, accommodations and entertainment industry.

Talk Business & Politics

On March 24, 1966, then-Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus wrote a letter to Melvin and Charlotte Schexnayder, the leaders of the Dumas Clarion newspaper in southeast Arkansas. Charlotte would later serve as a state representative for the region.

David Monteith / KUAR News

Super Tax Day, the annual kick-off event for a series of free tax services for low-income workers, is set for Saturday in several Arkansas cities. Entergy Arkansas has been a sponsor of the event since 2011. The energy provider partners with other state entities and the Internal Revenue Service to help promote the Earned Income Tax Credit, which increases the refund for low and middle-income individuals and families.

Structurlam Mass Timber Corp., a company selected to help build Walmart’s expansive new corporate campus in Bentonville, will expand into the United States with a $90 million investment in an existing building in Conway that will open in 2021.

Arkansas finance office says higher than expected sales and income tax collections in November kept the state's revenue above forecast and above the same month last year.

The Department of Finance and Administration on Tuesday said the state's net available revenue in November totaled $431.8 million. That's $24.7 million above the same month last year and $15.3 million above forecast.

The state's net available revenue so far for the fiscal year that began July 1 totaled $2.4 billion, which is $87.5 million above forecast.

Arkansas finance office says the state's revenue remains above forecast and above the same point last year.

The Department of Finance and Administration on Monday said Arkansas' net available revenue in October totaled $470.9 million, which is $35.5 million above the same month last year and $33.3 million above forecast. The state's net available revenue for the fiscal year that began July 1 is $1.9 billion, which is $72.2 million above forecast.

Hefei Risever Machinery (Risever), a Chinese-based heavy equipment parts manufacturer is on the verge of starting operations at its $20 million facility in Jonesboro. The company held a grand opening Wednesday and it should be fully operational by January, newly hired plant manager Chris Taylor told Talk Business & Politics.

"We plan to start production at the start of 2020," he said. "The building is complete and we’re installing equipment."

Sarah Kellogg - KUAR News / KUAR

IT company DXC Technology is adding 1,200 jobs to its facility in Conway expanding from its current number of about 450 employees over a four-year period.

Andrea Fiumicelli, vice-president of DXC's healthcare and life sciences division, made the formal announcement Tuesday at the company's Conway campus. According to Fiumicelli, the added positions will exist in a variety of sectors within the company. 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaking at Tuesday's announcement that DXC Technology is adding 1,200 jobs in Conway.
Governor's Office

Fortune 150 technology giant DXC Technology will expand its Conway operations by adding 1,200 new jobs to its current workforce of roughly 400. Gov. Asa Hutchinson and company officials made the formal announcement on Tuesday at press conference in Conway.

gas station
AAA

Starting Tuesday, taxes on gas and diesel fuel are going up and owners of electric and hybrid vehicles will be paying more to register their vehicles. Those increases are the result of legislation signed into law earlier this year by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

The tax on gasoline is going up 3 cents a gallon, while the tax on diesel will rise 6 cents a gallon. In addition to those new taxes, owners of hybrid and electric vehicles will be paying $100 or $200 dollars more, respectively, to register their vehicles each year.

Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism Secretary Stacy Hurst speaking to reporters at a press conference Wednesday about the latest report on tourism in the state.
Talk Business

Stacy Hurst, the newly named secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, on Wednesday unveiled the latest economic report on how the tourism and hospitality industry fared in 2018.

Overall travel expenditures rose 4.4% from 2017 to 2018 with visitors spending $7.37 billion in Arkansas during the year. Hurst, who delivered her remarks at the Arkansas Hospitality Association’s annual convention in Little Rock, said the Natural State saw more than 32 million visitors last year.

Stock Photo

Arkansas’s jobless rate fell to a record low of 3.4% in July from the 3.5% in June, and below the 3.6% in July 2018. Year-over-year, the state economy added 15,625 jobs, a 1.2% increase according to data posted Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number of employed in Arkansas during July was an estimated 1,316,265, up 15,625 jobs compared with July 2018. The state’s labor force – the number of people eligible to work – was 1,363,167 in July up 1% compared with the 1,349,795 in July 2018. The July numbers are preliminary and subject to revision.

Pages