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After months of study, the Walnut Ridge Mayor says consolidating with Hoxie "MUST wait."

The Melba Theater in Downtown Batesville, picture from Arkansas Parks and Tourism, credit Talk Business and Politics
Talk Business & Politics

Adam Curtwright’s first job was at the Melba Theater in downtown Batesville. In elementary school, he’d watched many movies on the theater’s lone screen. After he graduated from high school, Curtwright moved onto other jobs and ultimately became a banker.

But he yearned to return to the Melba, and when the building became available he, his wife, Mandy, and another couple, Joe and Janelle Shell, made a daring move.

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.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Results from a monthly survey of business supply managers suggest manufacturing is boosting economic conditions in nine Midwest and Plains states.

The Mid-America Business Conditions Index report released Wednesday says the overall economic index for the region rose to 60.5 in February from 54.7 in January. It's the highest figure since April 2014 and the fourth monthly increase in a row.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says the increases point to the improving regional manufacturing economy.

Talk Business & Politics

Doniphan Vitality, a non-profit organization, has received a $100,000 grant from the Delta Regional Authority, DRA, to conduct an innovation hub feasibility study in four southern Missouri counties and Sharp and Randolph counties in Arkansas.

The University of Missouri Extension Office has also pledged a $20,000 match, DV Arkansas leadership point person Graycen Bigger told Talk Business & Politics.

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence plans to talk about job growth while visiting an equipment and engine dealer in Missouri.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens will join Pence on Wednesday at the Fabick Cat headquarters in Fenton, Missouri, outside of St. Louis. Pence will meet with workers, get a tour of the facility, and give a speech at 1:30 p.m.

Eureka Springs, a nineteenth century Ozark Mountain health spa, could soon become a 21st century mecca for medical marijuana.

constitutional amendment allowing the use of cannabis for certain medicinal purposes was approved by Arkansas voters last November. And certain residents of Eureka Springs hope to brand their village as a medicinal marijuana destination.

This week the Arkansas Legislature pushed forward a bill to collect sales taxes on out of state, online purchases. Some retailers, like Amazon, say they support the move and will preemptively start collecting taxes in March.

Governor Asa Hutchinson is roundly praising Amazon’s announcement that the Seattle-based company wants sales tax be collected for online retailers and will voluntarily help collect them. In a statement, the Republican said the company’s decision is “laudable and good news for the state.”

State legislators are beginning to consider proposals for constitutional amendments that could eventually go to a vote of the people. Wednesday was the deadline for members of the Arkansas House of Representatives and Senate to file such proposals. In the Senate Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Thursday, lawmakers discussed two of the nearly thirty proposals filed in both chambers.

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A coalition of grocery store chains, dry county liquor store owners and small winery operators won the first round of a hot legislative battle when a bill allowing sales of all wine varieties in local grocery stores cleared the Senate floor on Wednesday.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A bill proposed in Tennessee's legislature would create a sales tax holiday for guns and ammunition.

The bill, filed Wednesday by Republican Rep. Dennis Powers, calls for a "Second Amendment sales tax holiday" on the first weekend of September each year.

Knoxville station WBIR reports that Tennessee already has a sales tax holiday at the end of the summer that's meant for back-to-school shopping. Last year, Louisiana and Mississippi each hosted sales tax holiday weekends on guns.

Federal law says if you've purchased tax-free online, you need to pay a tax to the state. But, no one's really doing that. The problem: Arkansas relies heavily on sales tax to support essential government services.

When it comes to federal legislation requiring online merchants to collect sales tax, Republican U.S. Representative Steve Womack of Arkansas has long been one the more prominent GOP backers of such a measure.

KUAR's Karen Tricot Steward spoke with Representative Womack on the issue.

The Arkansas Senate has approved a bill that would require Amazon and other major online retailers to collect state sales taxes. The measure passed Monday by a vote of 23-9 and now moves to the House.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Jake Files of Fort Smith, told his colleagues that Arkansas is one of only six states that don't collect sales taxes and is missing out on potential revenue.

"In 2014 it was estimated in one study that Amazon sales alone would have brought $32 million into the state, and then I've heard anywhere up to $100 million," Files said.

NOTE: This story is part of a package on mortgages, race and database journalism. Read the lead story in the package here

Every Friday afternoon, Realtor Julia Valenciana spends part of her workday in the studio of La Zeta, 95.7-FM, a Spanish-speaking station in Springdale, telling the Hispanic community how to buy a home and avoid being rejected by the system.

Housing Loans Difficult for Most Northwest Arkansas Minorities

Feb 6, 2017

NOTE: This story is part of a package on mortgages, race and database journalism. Read the sidebar in the package here.

FAYETTEVILLE — Christina Woods, a 29-year-old doctoral student at the university, is planning to buy a home in Northwest Arkansas soon. The move will be a milestone for this Native American and her family, who struggled with poverty and the legacy of tribal displacement 100 years ago.

“That’s a big deal because I’m 29 years old, and I have collateral, and nobody else in my family has anything like that,” said Woods, a member of the Cherokee Nation.

Eric Greitens Official Facebook Page

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Latest on Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' budget proposal released Thursday for the 2018 fiscal year (all times local):

11:10 a.m.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas finance officials say the state's revenue has fallen $57 million below forecast this year, with word coming the day after the state's Republican governor signed into law an income tax cut that'll take effect in two years.

The state Department of Finance and Administration on Thursday said the state's net available revenue last month totaled $535.9 million, which was $15.9 million below the same month last year and $47.1 million below forecast. The state's net revenue for the fiscal year that began July 1 totals $3.1 billion.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed into law a $50 million income tax cut that primarily affects people earning below $20,999 a year.

Under Act 79 of 2017, cuts to the affected income earners’ marginal tax rate would start in 2019. The law also commissions leaders of the Arkansas Senate and House of Representatives to appoint members of a 16-person task force to consider future tax legislation.

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Results from a monthly survey of business supply managers suggest economic conditions continue to improve in nine Midwest and Plains states.

The Mid-America Business Conditions Index report released Wednesday says the overall economic index for the region rose to 54.7 in January from 53.1 in December. It's the highest figure since February 2015 and the third monthly increase in a row.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says the increases point to an improving regional manufacturing economy.

State Senator Eddie Joe Williams has filed legislation requiring anyone seeking unemployment benefits that doesn't have a G.E.D. or high school diploma to take adult education courses to recieve benefits. The Republican from Cabot filed the bill on Monday.

UNION CITY, Tenn. (AP) — State officials say Williams Sausage Co. plans to build a second plant in Union City, creating 226 new jobs over the next five years.

In a statement, Gov. Bill Haslam and state economic development commissioner Randy Boyd say Williams Sausage will invest about $37 million to build a 180,000-square-foot facility in Obion County. It will include a cold storage distribution center, truck maintenance operations, corporate offices and a sandwich processing line.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas-based Windstream Holdings says it has eliminated 164 jobs, including 25 in Little Rock.

Windstream spokesman David Avery says the job cuts came from various areas, including engineering, finance and information technology. Avery tells the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2jNgATd) that Windstream has about 12,000 employees, including 1,450 in Little Rock.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s $50 million tax cut plan won approval Monday in the Arkansas House and Senate. But a final vote is needed before the legislation heads to the governor’s desk for signature. 

Speaking on behalf of the bill in his chamber, Sen. Jim Hendren, Republican-Gravette, said the plan would save money for nearly 660,000 low income Arkansans.

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — Renasant Corp. announced Tuesday that it's buying Metropolitan BancGroup for $190 million in stock.

The Tupelo-based bank says acquiring Metropolitan's $1.2 billion in assets will boost its market share, making it the fifth-largest bank in the metro areas of Memphis, Tennessee, and Jackson, Mississippi. Metropolitan has eight total offices, four in the Jackson area and two apiece in Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee.

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Ameren Missouri is seeking public comment today (Tuesday) from Southeast Missouri residents on a proposed rate increase.

Media outlets in Missouri report a hearing will be held in Charleston at the high school auditorium tonight at 6 p.m.  The state Public Service Commission along with representatives from Ameren are expected to be there to answer questions.

Two hearings were scheduled for today.  The first is in Cape Girardeau at the Osage Center at noon.

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