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Economy & Business

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Roof repairs, field funding and equipment…those items addressed at last night’s Jonesboro City Council meeting.   

The council passed an emergency clause that allows for 35-thousand-dollars of repairs to the roof at the old justice complex.  Over time, water leaks has damaged the roof to the point that immediate repairs are necessary…that according to city officials who planned to do renovation work at the building and discovered the damage. 

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.

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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.

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.

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