Arkansas Economy

Arkansas finance officials say a rise in individual income and sales tax collections helped push the state's revenue in December above expectations and the same month in 2016.

The Department of Finance and Administration said Wednesday the state's net available revenue in December totaled $521.1 million, which is $53.7 million above December 2016 and $23.7 million above forecast. The state's revenue so far for the fiscal year that began July 1 totals nearly $2.7 billion, which is $23.7 million above forecast.

Governor Asa Hutchinson is announcing the completion of a year-long, $1.2 million digital mapping project.

He says the system will allow emergency responders to have more up-to-date information and that it will allow the state to be competitive in economic development.

In a news release, the governor said the state now has a detailed map of expanding infrastructure.

The digital maps were produced by Arkansas Geographic Information Systems and are available to the public at gis.arkansas.gov.

A robot scanning a Walmart store shelf.
Walmart

Despite a slight drop in Arkansas sales tax revenue between the second and third quarters of fiscal year 2017, the holiday shopping season is expected to give the state’s economy a temporary boost.

Chief Economist Michael Pakko with the Arkansas Economic Development Institute at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock said a decrease in taxable sales between the two quarters still represents a picture of overall growth.

Recently released FBI data shows Black Friday gun sales set a single-day record for background checks at just over 203,000. And a number of Arkansas stores are claiming strong sales through the holiday weekend and Cyber Monday as well.

Rusty Fisher with Sunrise Outfitters in Searcy says his shop was no exception.

thanksgiving governor asa hutchinson turkey agriculture
David Monteith / KUAR News

The traditional trappings of Thanksgiving have a significant economic impact on the state of Arkansas, officials said in a ceremony on the steps of the state Capitol Monday.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson declared this Turkey Week in Arkansas. According to The Poultry Federation President Marvin Childers, the state ranks third in the nation in turkey production.

Assistant Pro Tempore 1st District Senator Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot).
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

President Donald Trump has appointed an Arkansas state Senator as the federal representative on the Southern States Energy Board. Eddie Joe Williams says he’ll be sworn into the new post in 30 to 45 days, and in the meantime he’ll resign as state Senator.

He’s held an elected office of kind or another in the Cabot area since the early 2000’s. He was elected to the Senate in 2010. A special election will have to be called to fill out the remainder of his term.

Arkansas’s two U.S. Senators - Republicans Tom Cotton and John Boozman – joined the slimmest of majorities this week to strike down a new rule that would have allowed consumers to band together in class-action lawsuits against credit card companies and banks. It’s a blow to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created after the 2009 financial crisis.

Democratic Party of Arkansas Chair Michael John Gray discusses the vote with KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman in the interview posted above.

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Arkansas was the among several states that saw higher unemployment rates in August, but U.S. Labor Department officials said Hurricane Harvey had “no discernible effect” on the nation’s employment picture last month.

New Doors Open In Home Lending For College Grads With Debt

Sep 14, 2017

Mortgage backers Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have recently changed lending rules to give more leeway to borrowers like Kristen Griffin with high student loans.

Griffin is a librarian at Nemo Vista High School in Center Ridge. She and her husband Mark are window-shopping on Zillow while their 2-year-old son Fletcher sleeps nearby.

Delta Regional Authority
dra.gov

The White House has nominated a member of U.S. Sen. John Boozman's staff to serve as co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority.

Officials announced the nomination Wednesday of Chris Caldwell, who now serves as director of special projects for Boozman. The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership that works to improve regional economic opportunity in the Mississippi River Delta region.

The Delta town of Dumas is getting an economic boost with the expansion of a manufacturing operation, SAF-Holland. The $4 million investment and retrofitting of an existing structure will add new production capabilities to the company’s existing Desha County operations. It’s expected to support 65 new jobs.

Arkansas Economic Development Commission Director Mike Preston says that adds up to quite an impact for a small town.

rice fields
Mickey Liaw / Flickr.com

After efforts to normalize trade relations between the United States and Cuba were stalled by President Donald Trump, members of Arkansas’s Congressional Delegation have set their sights on a new trade partner: China.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is beginning a two-day agriculture tour of farms in the rice-producing regions of east and northeast Arkansas. A statement from the governor’s office says he plans to discuss critical issues for the agriculture community, including flooding this year, row crop farming, and the possibility of rice sales to China.

Governor Hutchinson and the Arkansas Research Alliance (ARA) gave recognition to five university researchers in the state by awarding them an ARA fellowship that comes with a $75,000 grant.

The ARA Fellows program supports distinguished researchers already working at one of the five research universities in the state, including Arkansas State University, University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

Arkansas has started its fiscal year with the state's revenue coming in higher than expectations and above what was collected the same month last year.

The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration on Wednesday said the state's net available revenue in July totaled $454.5 million, which was $53.8 million above July 2016 and $10.5 million above forecast.

The department said individual and corporate income tax collections were above forecast and the same month last year. Sales tax collections were slightly below forecast but ahead of July 2016.

The federal agency tasked with economic development in the Delta is without a leader. It’s up to President Donald Trump to appoint a new federal co-chairman for the Delta Regional Authority. The DRA’s supporters are hoping for the President to act quickly so that tens of millions of dollars can be freed up for investment. But the Trump’s budget proposals have called for eliminating the authority entirely.

Arkansas finance officials say the state ended its fiscal year with a $15.7 million surplus after a boost in sales tax collections over the past two months helped restore most of the budget cuts enacted earlier.

The Department of Finance and Administration said Wednesday the state ended the fiscal year with $5.3 billion in net available revenue, which was $19 million below the previous fiscal year. Arkansas' fiscal year ended Friday.

Plans Announced For Solar Power Plant In Clarksville

Jun 29, 2017
solar power stuttgart
Entergy Arkansas

A utility that serves about 4,500 commercial, industrial and household customers in Clarksville is partnering with a Little Rock-based solar energy developer to provide about a quarter of that city’s electricity.

The Clarksville Light & Water Company announced its 30-year power purchase agreement with Scenic Hill Solar on Thursday. A solar array will be constructed on about 40 acres of land owned by the city utility. John Lester is the General Manager of Clarksville Light & Water.

Sun Paper
Governor's Office

Construction is expected to begin in March 2018 for a planned $1 billion pulp mill in south Arkansas.

Members of the Clark County Quorum Court were updated this week on the plans for the pulp mill, which will be built in Arkadelphia.

Amazon is attempting to lure low-income shoppers from Walmart by offering a discount on its pay-by-month Prime membership for people who receive government assistance.

The giant online retailer said in a statement Tuesday that people who have a valid electronic benefits transfer card — used for programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs, or food stamps — will pay $5.99 per month for a year. Amazon is offering a 30-day free trial for qualifying customers.

Episode 775: The Pigweed Killer

Jun 2, 2017

The border of Arkansas and Missouri is a land of open skies and long stretches of farmland. It's also the scene for a fight against a weed – specifically the pigweed, which will overwhelm a crop in a season.

Caddo River Forest Products sawmill Glenwood
Arkansas Business

A ceremony Thursday afternoon will mark the reopening of a sawmill in the southwest Arkansas city of Glenwood.

Caddo River Forest Products announced a year ago it would invest $50 million in the facility, which had been impacted by the economic recession and ultimately closed in 2010.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman and other officials are expected to speak during the 3 p.m. event. The company says 130 jobs will be created at the sawmill, along with 300 indirect jobs.

Delta Regional Authority Chairman Chris Masingill and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Funding for the Delta Regional Authority would be eliminated under President Trump’s first budget request to Congress. The federal agency is set up to help encourage and coordinate economic development in eight states, including Arkansas, tied to the beleaguered Mississippi River Delta region.

Arkansas finance officials say the state's revenue in February beat expectations, and the governor says the numbers reduce the likelihood of the budget cuts that he had told agencies were possible.

The state Department of Finance and Administration on Thursday said net available revenue last month totaled $276.7 million. That's $3.2 million below February 2016, but $40.9 million above forecast.

The state's net revenue for the fiscal year that began July 1 totals $3.4 billion, which is $19 million above the same point last year and $15 million below forecast.

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he's asking several agencies to make contingency plans for potential budget cuts after finance officials announced the state's net revenue had fallen $57 million below forecast.

The Republican governor told reporters Thursday he's asking for the plans as he watches the state's revenue over the next couple months and will decide by March whether to make any adjustments. Hutchinson said the agencies he's asking for plans from include the departments of Human Services, Education and Correction.

Arkansas state revenue fell short of projections for the month of January, bringing collections to $57.1 million below forecast for the first seven months of the fiscal year.

The Department of Finance and Administration says state net revenue came in 8.1 percent below forecast last month. January individual income tax collections came in about $26.8 million below forecast, with sales and corporate income taxes also falling slightly below projections.

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Arkansas' unemployment rate has dipped back below 4 percent in the final month of 2016.

The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services said Friday that the state's unemployment rate in December was 3.9 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from November's numbers. The state's jobless rate has hovered around 4 percent for the past six months after starting 2016 at 4.4 percent.

The national unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in December.

Executives from Massachusetts-based Clean Harbors Inc. gathered with South Arkansas government and business officials on Tuesday (Dec. 6) to christen what company officials are calling the nation’s most technologically advance incinerator of its kind to be built this century.

Ken Simonson Associated General Contractors of America
Jacob Kuaffman / KUAR News

Officials with the Associated General Contractors of America visited central Arkansas Tuesday to push for a federal civil works program under President-elect Donald Trump that would invest over a trillion dollars in the nation’s aging infrastructure and bring more construction jobs to the Arkansas economy.

Sun Paper
Governor's Office

Becky Keogh, director of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, said she and her staff had recent meetings with officials at Sun Paper Industry of China on pre-engineering and environmental permitting for the $1.3 billion mega-project in Clark County.

Arkansas finance officials say a boost in corporate and individual income tax collections helped the state's revenue rebound in October after three months of losses this fiscal year.

The Department of Finance and Administration said Wednesday the state's net available revenue in October totaled $439.1 million, which was $33.2 million above the same month last year and $8.9 million above forecast. The state's revenue so for the fiscal year that began July 1 totaled $1.7 billion, which is $23.2 million below forecast.

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