Arkansas Economy

August home sales in Arkansas’ four largest markets were off the pace of the previous three months, but sales for the first eight months of the year are up more than 8% and the value of those sales is up more than 13.5%. Homes are also selling faster in the four markets.

The healthy year-to-date pace in Arkansas is driven by an almost 14% gain in Northwest Arkansas home sales and a more than 6% gain in central Arkansas.

Governor asa hutchinson talk business & politics
Talk Business & Politics

Gov. Asa Hutchinson reflected on his recent trade trip to Cuba, takeaways from a major health reform report released this week, and criteria for replacing departing Human Services director John Selig.

Appearing on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics with Roby Brock, Hutchinson said he’ll turn first to the private business sector to replace Selig, who announced he’d leave the top Department of Human Services post by the end of this year.

fast food protest salary
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

As part of a national movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, some Little Rock workers plan to convene the city’s first wage board Tuesday.

Little Rock’s four-member board is made up of Democratic State Representatives Charles Blake and Vivian Flowers, the chair of Arkansas Community Organizations Donna Massey, and Revered Stephen Copley, who led the recent voter-approved effort to gradually raise the minimum wage in Arkansas to $8.50 by 2017.

Cuba Governor
Governor's Office

Arkansas’s governor returned from a trade mission with Cuba this week and on Friday urged Congress to ease financial and travel restrictions. In a session with reporters Governor Asa Hutchinson credited the Obama administration for opening doors to the communist nation but said future steps should come through Congress and not executive actions. He said expanding credit options is a first priority.

Arkansas Revenue Exceeds Expectations After Sales Tax Increase

Oct 2, 2015

Arkansas has exceeded revenue expectations by $15.1 million for the month of September.

According to John Shelnutt, an economist with the Department of Finance and Administration, sales taxes in particular has expanded by eight percent and may account for revenue increases. 

Shelnutt  said revenue growth may not continue at such a rate long term.  

"There are a few signs of slowing in the national economy and the global economy so that may be a factor down the line," he said. 

Cuba Governor
Governor's Office

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and a delegation of nearly 50 Arkansas business leaders and state officials are in Cuba for a series of meetings with government officials.

The communist island nation and its 11 million residents have for years been eyed as an untapped marketplace for Arkansas products, especially agriculture. With diplomatic relations being restored between the U.S. and Cuba, Hutchinson said this was an ideal time to begin building a relationship. The visit is the first by an American governor since the U.S. re-opened its embassy there in July.

Manufacturing and farming giant Caterpillar Inc., which operates a large motor grader plant in North Little Rock with several hundred workers, announced a major across-the-board restructuring and cost reduction Thursday (Sept. 24) that could possibly affect more than 10,000 employees across the company’s expansive U.S. and international operations.

Governor asa hutchinson military
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A month after an Arkansas factory lost a bid for a $6.75 billion contract to assemble military tactical vehicles, the governor has formed a group to help grow the state's military economy.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the Governor's Military Affairs Committee on Monday. The organization of public and private leaders will advocate for the state's military installations and their economic development interests.

Hutchinson is spending $400,000 from discretionary funds to start the group and for an economic impact study.

The Fab Four from Liverpool – who made a trip through Northeast Arkansas more than 50 years ago – were big fans of the music from the region, an author of a new book about The Beatles said Thursday.

Ivor Davis, who wrote the book, “The Beatles and Me on Tour,” will visit Walnut Ridge Friday and Saturday as part of the Beatles at the Ridge Festival.

rocket lockheed martin
Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin announced that it had received a $227 million contract from the U.S. Army for the first order of the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System alternative warhead, which will be produced at the defense contractor’s missile production facility in Camden.

“GMLRS is a combat proven precision-strike system,” said Ken Musculus, vice president of Tactical Missiles for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “We are confident that the new GMLRS Alternative Warhead will also provide reliable, highly accurate capability for our domestic and international customers.”

Sister Simone Campbell in Fayetteville.
KARK

Coinciding with Pope Francis’s visit to the U.S. this month a busload of social justice-minded nuns is touring the country, with three stops in Arkansas.

Sister Simone Campbell, of the lobbying group NETWORK, said she supports the Pope’s message of an inclusive economy.

  A groundbreaking ceremony has been held for the expansion of Aerojet Rocketdyne's plant in Camden in south Arkansas.

The California-based company was joined by Gov. Asa Hutchinson and state and local officials for Thursday's ceremony.

The project includes new buildings and renovations on the 1,200-acre site and 85 new jobs. The cost of the project was not released, however it is supported with incentives that include funding, tax exemptions, real estate tax grants and reimbursement for training.

The plant produces solid rocket motors used in the defense industry.

The Little Rock Technology Park Authority on Wednesday unanimously approved a measure giving Executive Director Brent Birch the power to negotiate a deal to hire East Harding Inc. as the construction manager for the first phase of the $30 million downtown tech park development.

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle JLTV
Lance Turner / Arkansas Business

Lockheed Martin says it's protesting the contract for a military vehicle it had hoped to assemble in south Arkansas being awarded to another company.

The Maryland-based company on Tuesday said it had filed a protest of the Army's decision last month to award a $6.7 billion contract to develop the joint light tactical vehicle to Wisconsin-based Oshkosh. Lockheed Martin was among three companies competing for the project, which it intended to build at its Camden facility in southern Arkansas.

Big River Steel
Johnathan Reaves / KASU News

Big River Steel has pre-sold nearly a quarter of the steel it is expected to produce over the next seven years, the company’s CEO told a legislative committee Wednesday.

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle JLTV
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Anticipation is building with an announcement expected soon about where the next generation of military combat vehicle will be built.

Last week, Arkansas Economic Development Commission executive director Mike Preston revealed that the U.S. Department of Defense has told him the award of the highly-coveted Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) will be announced on one of the next three Fridays – Aug. 28, Sept. 4, or Sept. 11.

Boon Tan World Trade Center of Arkansas
Jacqueline Froelich / KUAF

This year Congress voted to grant the executive branch fast-track authority to negotiate a flurry of international free trade agreements, most notably a 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The state says Arkansas' unemployment rate dropped one-tenth of a percentage point in July to 5.6 percent. That's down from 6 percent a year ago.

The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services said Friday that there are 40,300 more Arkansans in the labor force than in July 2014.

military vehicle lockheed martin tom cotton asa hutchinson
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Within the next month, Arkansas economic officials may declare an end of the week announcement as either Good Friday or Black Friday.

Arkansas Economic Development Commission executive director Mike Preston said Thursday that his agency has been told by Pentagon officials that an award of the JLTV superproject will be announced on either Friday, August 28, September 4, or September 11.

John Correnti Big River Steel
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The CEO of the state’s first superproject, Big River Steel CEO John Correnti, was found dead on an out-of-state business trip Tuesday morning, Talk Business & Politics has confirmed.

Correnti, 68, was the driving force for the $1.3 billion steel mill superproject, which is being built near Osceola (Mississippi Co.). As a former CEO of rival Nucor Steel, Correnti was a big fan of Arkansas where he once headed Nucor’s operations in the 1990’s.

The state has saved $2.5 million in salaries during the last half of the state’s fiscal year from January 13 to June 30 as a result of a hiring freeze instituted by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, his office announced Tuesday.

Hutchinson’s office said the freeze has resulted in the state having 297 fewer state employees. Positions were frozen an average of 59 days, meaning Hutchinson’s office is reviewing all open positions. His office said 433 freeze requests are pending.

Hutchinson said his first act as governor was to institute the hiring freeze.

Arkansas is starting its fiscal year on a positive note, with the state collecting $6.8 million more in revenue than expected.

The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration said the state's net available revenue in July totaled $399.2 million.

The state's fiscal year began July 1. The state's revenue was $3.9 million less than the same month last year.

This coming weekend will be a chance for Arkansas families to save money on back to school supplies. The annual tax holiday, which was approved by the state legislature in 2011, relieves shoppers of having to pay state and local sales taxes on certain products.

Items needed for students, along with some clothes and accessories within given price ranges are sold tax free.

Metova CEO John Adams
Talk Business & Politics

Officials with Metova, Inc. and the city of Conway announced Thursday that the emerging tech firm is looking to add 100 employees to its workforce in the next few months.

Metova builds apps for major companies like Yelp, Dropbox, eHarmony and Microsoft and it is active in cybersecurity protection for private firms and the federal government.

Lockheed Martin Camden patriot missile
Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin Corp., which is awaiting word on the Pentagon’s high-stakes $30 billion Joint Light Vehicle Project, received a much smaller multi-billion dollar contract last week that will keep its Camden production facility busy for a long time.

On Friday, the Bethesda, Maryland-based defense giant received news that U.S. and allied military forces are set to upgrade key missile defense capabilities under a new $1.5 billion contract for production and delivery of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3 missiles and PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement) missiles.

Natural Gas Drilling Mt. Vernon in Faulkner County
Arkansas Times

BHP Billiton said Tuesday that it plans to make further spending cuts to its U.S. onshore oil and gas development, pushing the Australia industrial giant’s current U.S. shale play budget down nearly 60% from $3.7 billion to $1.5 billion for the upcoming fiscal year.

Of that operating budget, the Sydney, Australia-based mining and industrial conglomerate plans to spend only $200 million in the Arkansas shale play to maintain ongoing production at 45 natural gas wells that the company has already drilled and completed.

military vehicle lockheed martin tom cotton asa hutchinson
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Top Lockheed Martin executives said they expect to hear a decision in August or September on two high stakes Pentagon contracts that will play a large role in the U.S. military’s future ground and air combat effectiveness, including the $30 billion Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) project that could land in Camden’s Highland Industrial Park.

jobs unemployment employment
www.purdue.edu

Arkansas’ unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percentage point in June as the state’s civilian labor pool grew by 200 workers, according to U.S. labor force data released Tuesday by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services.

The Little Rock Technology Park Authority Board on Wednesday unanimously approved a motion by Chairwoman Mary Goode to request a $6.8 million advance from the City of Little Rock to fund the purchase of prime downtown real estate from Stephens Inc. in the fast-growing Creative Corridor on Main Street.

The Department of Human Services begins a series of town halls across Arkansas Tuesday about an upcoming change in the coding system used by all medical providers.

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