Arkansas Economy

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.

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.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Arkansas’s unemployment rate is up, though not by very much. The state also still rests below the national average in the September report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

After three months of flat unemployment numbers Arkansas’s rate ticked up from 3.9 percent in August to 4 percent in September. 

Governor Asa Hutchinson Skype
Governor's Office

After seeing thousands of nondurable apparel manufacturing jobs leave eastern Arkansas since the early 1990s, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and his economic development team are bringing 400 of those jobs back to the state.

Students
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / Arkansas Public Media

Marvell-Elaine schools bus driver Larry Greer’s route twists through the Arkansas Delta, between the White and Mississippi Rivers. “All together I go from Elaine to Snow Lake, 65 miles round trip,” he said, while elementary school kids filed onto his bus for the afternoon ride home.

These are country bus stops along country roads. The way is long. In the morning, Greer says, he will wait only so long at an empty stop before he snaps his levered doors closed again. “If they don’t come out, they’re not going that day.”

Arkansas finance officials say the state's revenue in September again fell below expectations and the same month last year.

The Department of Finance and Administration on Tuesday said the state's net available revenue last month totaled $515.5 million, which is $500,000 below the same month a year ago and $16.7 million below the forecast. The state's net available revenue so far for the fiscal year that began July 1 totaled $1.3 billion, which is $4.3 million below the same point last year and $32 million below forecast.

Two manufacturers in Little Rock have announced plans for a $6.4 million expansion that will create 43 new jobs.

G.C. Evans Sales and Manufacturing and Sleeve Seal announced the expansion Monday. The two companies are now based in a facility on south Woodrow Street but will move all operations to a site in south Little Rock as part of the expansion.

G.C. Evans makes packaging and processing equipment for the food, bottling and pharmaceutical industries, while Sleeve Seal supplies high-speed labeling equipment and shrink labels for the packaging industry.

Last Minute Effort Fails To Stop Mental Health Funding Cuts

Sep 30, 2016
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / Arkansas Public Media

Funding cuts for mental health services through Medicaid are taking effect October 1, despite a last-ditch effort at the state legislature Friday to walk back a change that some say could have dire consequences.

The cuts, finalized last week, would limit group therapy length from an hour and a half to an hour and set a cap of 25 counseling visits per year for Medicaid recipients who might otherwise go every week.

The vote to revisit the decision failed to gain two thirds from the Arkansas Legislative Council Friday morning.

Downtown Magnolia, Arkansas.
flickr.com

A fuel-cell manufacturer has notified local officials that it will shut its plant in Magnolia, putting about 300 people out of work in south Arkansas.

Magnolia Mayor Parnell Vann says he was notified last week that American Fuel Cells and Coated Fabrics Co., also known as Amfuel, will shut down production at its plant. The manufacturer has been located in Magnolia for more than 60 years.

A spokesman for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission says the agency was notified of the plant's closure and said the company received no state incentives.

Map of unemployment rate change from August 2015 to August 2016.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

For the third straight month Arkansas’s unemployment rate is holding steady at 3.9 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ August report. It is a full point below an also flat nationwide unemployment rate.

A 4x4 utility vehicle sold by Intimidator Inc.
Intimidator Inc.

A utility vehicle and mower manufacturer in Batesville announced on Monday it plans to add 400 employees to its operation.

Over $12-million will be poured into an expansion of Intimidator Incorporated’s existing facility in Batesville and the construction of an entirely new plant nearby in the Independence County Industrial Park. 400 jobs are expected to be created over a four year period.

While a better Arkansas economy has helped lower the state’s 2013-2015 food insecurity rate to 19.2% from the 19.7% in the 2010-2012 period, national and regional food bank officials say more help is needed and the rates remain above pre-recession realities.

Asa Hutchinson
Arkansas Times

Gov. Asa Hutchinson kicked off the annual Arkansas Hospitality Convention in Little Rock on Wednesday  by touting the impact the fast-growing tourism industry is having on the state's overall economic expansion.

Citing a recent U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report designating Arkansas as the nation’s economic leader during the first quarter, Hutchinson told convention-goers gathered at the Statehouse Convention Center that the tourism sector has also play a key role in recent job growth and low unemployment levels.

Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas and federal officials have extended an agreement for a research center that's aimed at enhancing regulatory science.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding extending for another five years their partnership on the Arkansas Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science.

The center was established in 2011 at the FDA's National Center for Toxicological Research and is aimed at modernizing regulatory science to help move safer products to the market, according to the MOU.

City Board To Consider Paying Bonus To Employees Who Live In Town

Aug 31, 2016
River Market District
inarkansas.com

New employees of the City of Little Rock may receive a financial incentive to reside within the municipality.

The city’s Board of Directors is considering a $5,000 dollar gift for employees who buy homes in town, or $2,500 to employees who rent in Little Rock. The board discussed possible residency incentive for city employees at its meeting Tuesday.

City spokesperson Jennifer Godwin says the proposal was inspired by a recent failed initiative to require police officers to live within city limits.

Stock Photo

Talk Business and Politics reports:

Low interest rates, stable loan demand and hyper competition characterized the banking climate in the state and nation, with net income for all U.S. banks up 1.46% in the second quarter of 2016.

Mainstream Technologies will open a second location in downtown Conway, the 20-year old IT services firm announced on Thursday.

The Conway facility will begin operations in September with 15 new employees. Little Rock-based Mainstream provides managed services, custom software, and hosting to clients throughout the mid-South.

Fiscal second quarter net income for Wal-Mart Stores rose more than 8%, with adjusted per share earnings of $1.07 topping the consensus estimate of $1.02. Quarterly revenue of $120.854 billion also beat expectations.

Talk Business & Politics reports Walmart U.S. same-store sales rose 1.6%, marking the eighth consecutive quarter of positive comps with the closely watched financial metric.

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