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Economy & Business

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Kellogg Co. says it plans to shut down a distribution plant in Memphis and lay off 172 workers.

The company said Tuesday in a letter to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development that the Memphis plant will close by the end of July.

The Battle Creek, Michigan-based company has said it would close 39 distribution facilities across the country, affecting more than 1,000 workers. The company says it is changing how it ships products.

Originally a cereal maker, Kellogg's also makes Eggo frozen waffles, Pop-Tarts and Pringles.

Talk Business and Politics

Jonesboro’s economic growth stumbled in recent months as sales and use receipts and building permit values declined. At least one of those indicators is on the rise again.

Northeast Arkansas’ hub city collected $1.48 million in sales tax in May, a 1.54% increase from the same month in 2016, according to city info.

Rural Arkansas has so much to offer in terms of picturesque surroundings and low cost of living that it should be marketed as the newest retirement hot spot, according to participants of the 2017 Rural Development Conference in Hot Springs this week.

Community leaders gathered at the Convention Center to discuss the quality of life issues for rural residents, such as internet access, better-paying jobs and healthcare.

Despite the perception that health care appointments are hard to come by in rural Arkansas, county judge John Thomison said Lawrence County fares pretty well for medical care.

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Ameren Missouri customers wouldn't likely see a significant increase in their monthly electricity bills under a proposal allowing manufacturers that use a lot of electricity to negotiate lower rates, according to a Missouri Public Service Commission staff analysis presented to a Senate committee Thursday.

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri House on Wednesday advanced a bill that would allow manufacturing companies to negotiate lower electricity rates than currently allowed, a measure supporters say could bring hundreds of jobs to the southeastern corner of the state but critics argue would raise rates for utilities customers.

By JOSH BOAK, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Solid hiring nationwide led unemployment rates to touch record lows in three U.S. states last month.

The Labor Department says unemployment rates declined in 10 states in April, increased in one — Massachusetts — and held relatively stable in the other 39. A significant number of the job gains occurred in nine states, led by Texas, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Indiana was the only state to see a significant decrease in jobs last month.

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By KATIE KULL and DAVID A. LIEB, Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens announced Thursday that he's calling lawmakers back to work about a week after the end of their regular session to discuss legislation that could make it easier to open a new steel plant and reopen an old aluminum smelter in rural southeast Missouri.

A lawsuit has been filed against the general contractor of the Hyatt Place Hotel and Convention Center in Jonesboro.

The Sun reports Midsouth Steel Inc. is suing Construction Network Inc. for a breach of contract in the project to be located near Interstate 555.  Midsouth is seeking nearly $430,000.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unemployment rates fell to record lows in four U.S. states in March after months of steady job creation nationwide.

Unemployment rates fell in 17 states in March and were mostly unchanged in 33, the Labor Department said Friday. Employers added a significant number of jobs in just three states last month and cut them in four. Employment was mostly unchanged in the other 43 states. Hiring nationwide was weak in March but strong in the previous two months.

After lien filings from 2 companies and an ultimatum from the Jonesboro Advertising and Promotions Commission, another company has filed a lien against Northern Arkansas Hotel and Convention Center, LLC.

The Sun reports that HD Supply Construction Supply of Allen, Texas filed a lien against the company earlier this week.  The lien is in regards to the delayed construction of the Hyatt Place Hotel and Convention Center to be built near Interstate 555 on Browns Lane Access Road.

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One of the proposed convention centers in Jonesboro may not get built if the developer doesn't meet a deadline next month.

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NEW YORK (AP) — Starting next week, Wal-Mart will offer discounts on thousands of online-only items when customers elect to have them shipped to one of the company's stores for pickup.

The move is part of the retailer's efforts to better compete with online leader Amazon.

Initially, the discount will be available on about 10,000 items. But the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer says it will then expand the price cuts to more than one million items by the end of June.

Talk Business & Politics

Plans to build a 165-room Hyatt Place Hotel and an adjoining 78,000-square-foot convention center near Jonesboro’s hotel row off Caraway Road are in peril. Dirt work has been begun at the site, but liens have already been placed against the property, according to the city’s A&P Commission.

Arkansas-based retail giant Wal-Mart in its re-organization of the Walmart U.S. technology division is eliminating around 300 jobs in the Information Systems Division (ISD).

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Economic conditions in nine Midwest and Plains states remains healthy, despite a slight slip in a monthly survey of business supply managers, an economist said in a report released Monday.

The Mid-America Business Conditions Index report said the overall economic index for the region dropped to 60.1 in March from 60.5 in February. It's the first index decline in five months.

Sara Gullickson flew in from Arizona to voice her concerns at the Medical Marijuana Commission's first public hearing today in Little Rock.

"I really, really strongly urge Arkansas to consider for the dispensaries running a merit based program instead of a lottery based program. Lottery based programs definitely breed litigation, program delays, and really don’t set the state up for success."

Last month, Medical Marijuana Commissioner Carlos Roman, an anesthesiologist, joked that the appropriate venue for the commission's first public hearing Friday would be Verizon Arena, the 18,000-seat venue for touring Top 40 musical acts, circuses and monster truck rallies.

Instead, the commission got the UA Little Rock's Bowen School of Law — larger than the modest fifth-floor conference room inside 1515 W. 7th St. where the meetings have been, still smaller than the anticipated crowd.

The commission has received dozens of email comments already, a large number asking the body to rethink its plan for a lottery to pick 32 Arkansans to open retail storefronts for medical marijuana.

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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.”

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