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Brock: Federal government shutdown impacts Arkansas

Posted: October 5, 2013 - 8:23pm

The federal government shutdown had a major impact on Arkansas’ work force. From the Department of Human Services to the Department of Health, hundreds of state workers were furloughed as federal funding was put on hold. About 350 Little Rock Air Force Base civilians were placed on furlough, while the Arkansas National Guard halted certain operations impacting up to 10,000 guard members.

Clinton speaks at Greers Ferry Dam 50th anniversary

On the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Greers Ferry Dam in Heber Springs, former President Bill Clinton addressed a large crowd at a ceremony commemorating the Oct. 3, 1963, dedication. Built for flood control on the Little Red River, the $46.7 million dam took six years to build and encompasses 31,500 acres and roughly 285 miles of shoreline. It has led to millions of dollars in tourism for the Heber Springs region, which benefits from fishing, skiing, camping and other lake-related activities.

Arvest Bank to acquire National Bank of Arkansas

Bentonville-based Arvest Bank Group Inc. and National Banking Corp., the holding company for North Little Rock-based National Bank of Arkansas, say they have entered into a “definitive agreement” for Arvest to own the bank. NBC will sell 100 percent of the issued and outstanding stock, or 93,843 shares, of NBC to Arvest Holding Company Inc., a subsidiary of Arvest Bank Group, for an undisclosed sum. The sale is anticipated to close in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Plum Creek Timber CEO points to industry rebound

Plum Creek Timber Corp. CEO Rick Holley told members of the Arkansas Forestry Association that a housing recovery and new markets bode well for the industry as he expects bullish opportunities in the coming months and years.

Touting a healthy rebound in new housing starts, Holley said demographic trends support continued construction activity in the U.S. for the next several years. He also said that rising Chinese demand for American lumber and devastation from a Canadian pine beetle infestation bode well for more southern timber producers.

September gains boost year-to-date state tax collections

Boosted by across-the-board September gains in all major revenue categories, Arkansas ended its first fiscal quarter with net revenues 4.2 percent above last year and 2.3 percent above forecast. State revenue officials reported that the rise in individual and corporate income taxes and sales and use taxes in September was encouraging as nothing unusual accounted for the boost.

Despite glitches, health insurance officials encouraged

Despite glitches in the new online insurance marketplace, Arkansas officials were encouraged by early participation. The federal government’s marketplace website triggered technical problems for the state’s online enrollment site — arhealthconnector.org — but Insurance Department leaders said they felt users would not be deterred.

Hino Motors to expand by 200 workers, $55 million

Hino Motors Manufacturing U.S.A. will expand its Marion manufacturing facility, adding 200 jobs and investing more than $55 million. The auto parts maker currently employs 350 at its Marion factory.

Hino’s presence in Arkansas dates to July 2004 when the company broke ground on its manufacturing facility in Marion. Through this expansion, the company will grow its capacity to manufacture axles, knuckles and suspension components for Toyota’s Tacoma, Tundra and Sequoia models.

Walmart names Kathleen McLaughlin to head Walmart Foundation

Walmart announced that Kathleen McLaughlin, 48, has been named president of the Walmart Foundation, effective Oct. 15. She replaces Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who left to become director of the White House Office of Management and Budget in April.

In addition to leading corporate giving, McLaughlin will have responsibility for the company’s global sustainability, women’s economic empowerment and healthier food initiatives. McLaughlin, previously a senior partner at global consulting firm McKinsey & Company, is a dual American-Canadian citizen and was based in Toronto.

Roby Brock, a freelance journalist based in Little Rock, writes weekly for the Arkansas News Bureau. His weekly television program airs at 10 p.m. Sundays in Central and Northwest Arkansas. His email address is roby@talkbusiness.net; his website address is www.talkbusiness.net.

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