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Economy & Business

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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.

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.

Johnathan Reaves, KASU News

Record breaking growth expected for Jonesboro.  Mayor Harold Perrin projects that city will see over $200 million in building permits this year….that would set records.  Last year, the city approved over $180 million in permits.

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.

Johnathan Reaves, KASU News

A campaign to attract more jobs to Jonesboro is underway.  Jonesboro Unlimited is starting a 5 year approach to economic development called Momentum Jonesboro.  The goal is to raise three-point-seven million dollars over the next five years to being more than five thousand high-paying jobs to Jonesboro.  Chairman of Jonesboro Unlimited Brad Edwards says the focus areas are for business attraction, talent attraction and community enhancement.  

Johnathan Reaves, KASU News

A partnership is formed to bring job opportunities to young adults with disabilities in northeast Arkansas.  St. Bernards Medical Center is working with Little Rock-based ACCESS and Arkansas Rehabilitative Services.  Educators from area schools are being trained on the program, which is called Project SEARCH.  Vice President of Human Resources at St. Bernards Lori Smith says the project will bring job training and employment assistance for those with disabilities.

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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After recently consolidating with College City, Walnut Ridge officials are seeking to merge with Hoxie for 2017.

KAIT reports Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp expressed hope in bringing the two cities together in his State of the City address to the city council Monday night.

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NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart plans to add about 10,000 retail jobs in the U.S. as it opens new stores and expands existing locations.

The world's biggest retailer said Tuesday that there will also be about 24,000 construction jobs as well.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says there will be 59 new, expanded and relocated Walmart and Sam's Clubs facilities.

 COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Ameren Missouri electric customers will now have to pay about $3 more on their monthly bill to support energy efficiency efforts by the utility company. The Missouri Public Service Commission says the charge will apply to the bills of 4,118 customers in Boone County and 1.26 million customers statewide.

The Delta Regional Authority has donated $1 million toward the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub’s I-Fund, a funding and training program for small businesses started by college students. The program will expand in its geographical reach and will be called the Delta I-Fund, according to an email newsletter from the Hub.

The next two 12-week sessions will be in the fall, offering $50,000 in potential funding for each startup. All companies accepted to the program will receive $5,000. Participants will be selected by a five-person committee, according to the Hub.

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NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart says it named John Furner as CEO of its Sam's Club stores to replace Rosalind Brewer, who is retiring next month.

Furner, who is 42, will head the membership-only warehouse chain next month. Furner has been Sam's Club's chief merchandising officer since October 2015. Wal-Mart says he first joined the company as an hourly store associate in 1993.

Brewer will leave her position February 1. The 54-year-old has been CEO of Sam's Club for five years and has had a variety of executive roles since joining the company about 11 years ago.

Gov. Hutchinson and Facebook Announce Arkansas & Facebook Techstart Partnership

Jan 5, 2017
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LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson today announced the details of an agreement with Facebook, Inc. to launch the company’s Techstart program in Arkansas high schools. The Arkansas & Facebook Techstart Partnership is a first-of-its-kind partnership with the social media giant. Under the agreement, Facebook will donate 500 Virtual Reality (VR) classroom kits, including computers, cameras and the Oculus Rift equipment necessary to administer the Techstart program.  

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas finance officials say higher than expected sales tax collections helped keep the state's revenue in December above forecast and last year's numbers. But Arkansas is still behind what was predicted so far for the fiscal year.
 

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A staggering amount of growth occurred last year in Jonesboro.  

Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin told members of the city council that over 180 million dollars in building permits approved by the city in 2016.  That is about 40 million dollars more than in 2015.  Perrin says well over half of that number is in residential permits, the rest are business permits.  He expects those numbers to continue to climb this year. 

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The unemployment rate in Northeast Arkansas remains low.

The Jonesboro Sun reports, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Thursday released its report of their most recent jobless rate data.

Employment in nonfarm jobs in the Jonesboro Metropolitan Area rose by about 1,300 with over 55,300 people employed since November 2015.  Last year, the sector saw an increase in November with around 56,800 residents employed, bringing the jobless rate in the area to 2.9%.

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) - The first phase of a makeover of a 5-mile stretch of highway in Branson could be finished by Memorial Day.

The Joplin Globe (http://bit.ly/2hLDtUI ) reports the construction aims to alleviate traffic congestion along West Highway 76 by creating a wider, continuous pedestrian walkway in the area, which includes Branson's entertainment district.

 JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's outgoing Democratic governor says he's made plenty of "solid accomplishments" during his two terms as the chief executive.  In an interview with the Associated Press, Gov. Jay Nixon cites increased funding for education and mental health services and billions of spending cuts that have helped keep the budget in balance as tax revenues declined from a recession.  There also have been other events that have shaped Nixon's tenure. He's had to manage numerous natural disasters. Most notable was the 2011 Joplin tornado that killed 161 people.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon set an aggressive agenda to attract jobs after the Great Recession.

An Associated Press analysis shows the Democratic governor promoted business deals projected to cumulatively create about 48,000 jobs in exchange for up to $2 billion of state incentives.

As Nixon prepares to leave office Jan. 9, those businesses have reported hiring a little over 21,000 employees. The state so far has paid about $166 million of incentives to those firms.

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Soaring numbers in a monthly survey of business supply managers suggest economic conditions are improving in nine Midwest and Plains states.

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Some Arkansas workers will get a 50 cent boost in pay on New Year’s Day when the state’s minimum wage will rise from $8 to $8.50, Arkansas Department of Labor officials said Wednesday (Dec. 28).

“This is the final increment of the (Arkansas Minimum Wage Initiative) that was passed by voters in 2014,” said Rosalyn Miller, public relations officer of the state Department of Labor.

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OSCEOLA, Ark. (AP) — Production is beginning at a new, $1.3 billion steel mill in northeast Arkansas.

According to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Big River Steel has begun operations in its melt shop and hot mill at the new facility in Mississippi County. The steel mill was the first "superproject" to be approved under a 2004 state constitutional amendment that allows the state to borrow money to help lure major employers.

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