Arkansas Economy

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.

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.

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.

Stock Photo

July marked the beginning of the fiscal year and state revenues totaled over $462 million, which is 1.4 percent lower than last year. Though some revenue sources are lower compared to last year, according to Friday’s released report, that does not necessarily indicate a negative trend to Arkansas’ economy.

Since this is the first month of the new fiscal year, there are no cumulative balances to consider. The report instead makes comparisons to last July.

David Monteith / KUAR News

Martial artists from around the world began gathering in Little Rock Monday for the annual ATA World Expo. Little Rock’s largest annual convention is expected to draw roughly 20,000 visitors per day over the next week for a variety of Taekwondo events.

The convention includes two days of training and seminars followed by four days of competitions, which are open to the public.

Arkansas budget coffers overflowed with a surplus of nearly $300 million at the end of fiscal year 2019 but state tax officials are budgeting conservatively for the next 12 months because of a slowing economy and the elimination of one-time factors that boosted revenues over the past year.

For the 12-month period ended June 30, net available revenue rose a robust 7.8%, or $426.5 million, to $5.921 billion, and up $231.2 million, or 4.1%, above the budget forecast, according to Tuesday’s revenue report from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

Lockheed Martin Camden patriot missile
Lockheed Martin

Only days after Gov. Asa Hutchinson returned from a European trade mission where Lockheed Martin announced a multimillion-dollar deal to expand its operations in Camden, the Pentagon awarded the defense giant another blockbuster contract to manufacture warheads at its South Arkansas military industrial complex.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says the expansion of the Lockheed Martin facility is "great news for South Arkansas."
Governor's Office

326 new jobs are to be created in south Arkansas as part of a Lockheed Martin expansion. At the Paris Air Show Monday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and representatives from the company announced the expansion of a plant in Camden. The governor sent a tweet about the announcement Monday morning.

With just two months left in the current fiscal year, Arkansas took in more revenue in April than was forecasted.

The monthly revenue report from the state Department of Finance and Administration shows Arkansas's net available revenue was just over $750 million in April, about 15 percent above the state's forecast.

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