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  Another Northeast Arkansas group fighting to put an alcohol measure on the November ballot is also suing the county’s clerk. 

The group Keep Our Dollars in Independence County is now suing County Clerk Tracy Mitchell for rejecting signatures on a ballot measure to allow alcohol sales in the county. 

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The group Keep Revenue in Randolph County has been working for months to collect almost 4,000 signatures from registered voters for a petition.  

The petition was to give residents the opportunity to vote on making Randolph County a wet county on the November ballot.  Earlier this month, just a couple of days before the petition was due, the County Clerk’s office rejected over 169 pages of signatures, causing the group to be 361 signatures short. 

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The Jonesboro metro area has enjoyed historically low unemployment during the last two years, but city leaders knew wage stagnation was a problem, and there was a need to be proactive in creating new job opportunities.

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Glen Fenter, president of the Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce (GMACW), has a passion for workforce education in Memphis and the Arkansas Delta region. Likewise, he is passionate about job creation. Not just any jobs, mind you, but the kind necessary to upgrade living standards and grow the area’s economy.

Fenter is far from alone in his zeal, as several two-year colleges and other groups work toward this end – many in association with one another.

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Compared to the rest of the state, Northeast Arkansas has seen an overall growth in employment, sales tax revenue, and new home starts.  Talk Businesses and Politics released their quarterly Compass Report highlighting the economic progress of Arkansas’ key metro areas.  This was the first time the Jonesboro metro area was included in the report.

Jonesboro Officials Still Pushing to Build $12 millon Shooting Range

Jul 21, 2016
Johnathan Reaves, KASU News

The city of Jonesboro and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission are hoping to build a state of the art, $12 million shooting range, and could recoup some of the cost by charging the public to use the range.

Over the past few years, so-called ugly fruit and vegetables have been gaining a host of admirers.

Johnathan Reaves, KASU News

The look of downtown Jonesboro is changing.  A $130 million renovation of St. Bernards is underway.  The work is being done in four phases and is expected to be complete by 2019. 

Construction is taking place on the Ben E. Owens Cancer Treatment Center and it should be finished this fall. 

Initial work on phase two is also underway, which includes adding new catheterization labs, hybrid labs and additional invasive services to the Heartcare Center.  That will be complete in the winter of 2017. 

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 The national retailer Tractor Supply Company is building a new store in Walnut Ridge.  City officials made the announcement at a Monday news conference at the old Walmart building on US 67B where the business will be located. 

The property owned by Williams Baptist College was sold to Dallas-based BG Development, according to the Jonesboro Sun.  College officials told KAIT the funds from the sale will be used towards constructing new residence halls. 

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O’Reilly Hospitality Management has been rejected again for getting A&P funding for the Arkansas State University Hotel and Convention Center Project. 

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  The U. S. Senate has passed the 2017 Transportation Appropriations Bill in which includes a provision to designate a portion of U.S. 67 as “Future I-57”.  Senator John Boozman (R-AR) authored the provision to the bill earlier this month.  Boozman told fellow lawmakers on the Senate floor Wednesday about the support the measure has received from communities along US 67.

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  O’Reilly Hospitality Management is asking the Jonesboro Advertising and Promotions Commission to reconsider supporting the Arkansas State University convention center project. 

In March, the A&P Commission voted to fund the Keller Hyatt Place Hotel and Convention Center project to be located near I-555 along Browns Lane.  The 159-bed hotel and convention center is expected to cost about $27 million.

Johnathan Reaves, KASU News

Officials with the Arkansas World Trade Center are coming to Jonesboro next week.  President and CEO Dan Hendrix will tour several companies next Thursday and will have a meeting with the City of Jonesboro and the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce at the Cooper Alumni Center that day at 4:30 pm.  Jonesboro's Chief Financial Officer Suzanne Allen tells about the Arkansas World Trade Center:

She tells about the significance of having the Arkansas World Trade Center in Jonesboro:

Brandon Tabor, KASU News

  While the Property Maintenance Code and the Jonesboro Police salary issue received a little attention at Thursday night’s Alderman Debate, one theme took center stage more than any issue.

The 5 candidates (Phil Cook, Dr. Richard Wang, Captain James Boweman, Joseph Woodbury, and Bobby Long) running for the Jonesboro City Council Ward 6, Position 1 seat felt there should be more transparency between the city government and its citizens.

Also discussed at the debate were minority issues, infrastructure, and economic development.

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The United States continues to work with other countries in ironing out the details of the Trans-Pacific  Partnership agreement.  On Monday,  Tom Vilsack,  U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, met with agricultural leaders in Vietnam to discuss the agreement.  

Vietnam is one of 12 countries involved with the TPP and is considered as one of the fastest growing agricultural markets for the U.S.  Some of the top products for the Vietnam market are grown in Arkansas, such as cotton, rice, and soybeans.  

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Craighead County joins cities such as Fayetteville and Rogers in recording double digit revenue increases for April. 

The Jonesboro Sun reports a 14% increase in county sales tax revenue this month compared to last April.  County officials say the county’s 1% sales tax brought in over $1.6 million in April. 

Jonesboro saw a 13% increase in its sales tax revenue which equates to more than $1.3 million . 

Sales tax collections across Arkansas were up by 7.8%, according to the state Department of Finance and Administration.

Courtesy boozman.senate.gov

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), in his monthly visit with KASU, talked about the candidates for President, international tensions, and meetings this week with the Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce and Arkansas veterans. Click on the Audio link to hear the entire interview.

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Dealing with a downturn in the agricultural economy is the big topic of discussion at the third annual Agricultural and Environmental Law Conference.

Conference spokesman and National Agricultural Law Center Director Harrison Pittman says Mid-South agriculture is uniquely impacted by changes in state, federal, & international policies.  He says the goal is to bring awareness to how those changes affect the industry.

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  While Craighead County has seen small gains in March sales tax revenue compared to last year, revenue in Jonesboro shows a small decrease.

The Jonesboro Sun reports the 1% county sales tax brought in $1,369,216, an increase from March 2015 of 0.32%.

Jonesboro only earned $1,237,155 from its separate sales tax revenue; a decrease of $8,591 from March 2015.

City Water and Light officials say the decrease in the city sales tax could be contributed to an 8% decrease in January electricity sales.

FMH Conveyors Expansion to Create Jobs in Jonesboro

Mar 23, 2016
Brandon Tabor, KASU News

 

  FMH Conveyors will be expanding their Jonesboro operations to the new lot on Highland Drive.   The announcement was made at Wednesday’s unveiling ceremony at the Hames Room in the Arkansas State University Convocation Center. 

Company officials announced they will invest $12.5 million in a new 195-thousand square foot facility.  The expansion is expected to create 110 new jobs for the region.

Crawford Delivers Cuba Bill Update at Agri Roundtable

Mar 23, 2016
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U. S. Representative Rick Crawford told state agricultural leaders Tuesday his believes his Cuba bill could get passed sometime next year. 

Talk Business and Politics reports the Jonesboro Republican addressed participants via Skype at the Cuba Consortium Agriculture and Food Roundtable.

Crawford said his bill could also be moved as a stand-alone bill after the November elections during the lame duck session. 

Brandon Tabor

  A grant worth $404,983 has been awarded to Arkansas State University from the Delta Regional Authority.

Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill notified Chancellor Dr. Tim Hudson about the award Tuesday. 

This announcement will assist the University with site preparation and improvements of the 11-acres where Arkansas State's new Embassy Suites hotel, convention center, and Houlihan's Restaurant will be located. 

The location is  the former track and field complex on campus.

O'Reilly Hospitality Management has announced that it is moving forward with plans to build a 202-room Embassy Suites Hotel and a 40,000 square foot convention center, as well as a Houlihan's Restaurant. 

TimO'Reilly, CEO and Managing Member of O'Reilly Hospitality says they are finalizing their Embassy franchise application and will turn in a financial package in the next 30 days. 

He says the project has received a "significant grant" from the Delta Regional Authority and is partnering with Arkansas State University to make the project a reality. 

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Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson is set to be in Jonesboro this week as part of an announcement of a new industry coming to the city. 

The Jonesboro Sun reports Hutchinson will be in town at Wednesday’s ceremony along with Jonesboro Unlimited at the Hames Room at the Arkansas State University Convocation Center. 

The Metropolitan Area Planning Commission is expected to review the plans from the unknown company Tuesday. 

Brandon Tabor, KASU News

UPDATE 3/29/16:

Road work continues this week on Red Wolf Blvd between Johnson and Aggie. 

On Tueday, the inside southbound lane and both northbound lanes are open.  The outside southbound lane is closed as construction begins to create a 200-foot deceleration lane for right turns on to Alumni Blvd. 

Last week, crews worked to remove the median and create a turning lane.  City officials say the project which was estimated to take 2 weeks is now ahead of schedule.

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