Roby Brock

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Roby Brock of TalkBusiness.net covers business and political news happening in Arkansas.

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With the Arkansas Manufacturing Innovation Summit only days away, a quarterly industry report by PriceWaterHouse (PWC) showed that manufacturing executives are optimistic about the future despite recent challenges that have maligned the sector once viewed as the pillar of the U.S. economy.

It flew under the radar for the most part, but a significant piece of legislation may make Arkansas a much easier place to start or run a business, Talk Business & Politics reports.

Act 1190, co-sponsored by Speaker Jeremy Gillam and Sen. Eddie Joe Williams, allows the Secretary of State’s office to create a portal for businesses to submit licenses, permits and applications through one interface.

Greg Bledsoe
Talk Business & Politics

Arkansas’ new Surgeon General, Dr. Greg Bledsoe, says the legislative health care task force that begins its work in earnest this week will be looking at a much wider swath of reform than just the private option.

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Newly installed state Education Commissioner Johnny Key laid out his philosophy for public education in Arkansas, stating he was a strong supporter of Common Core and wants to find ways to empower teachers and strengthen leadership in order to improve schools.

“My philosophy is that teachers know best and we need to build from the ground up,” said Key, a former Mountain Home state Senator tapped by Gov. Asa Hutchinson last month to lead the state’s education department.

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Senate President Jonathan Dismang and Speaker of the House Jeremy Gillam said they are satisfied with the outcome of the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that nearly derailed the regular legislative session in the last full week.

HB 1228 religious freedom gay rights
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR News

On a day when renewed opposition from the state’s business community implored Gov. Asa Hutchinson to stop HB 1228, a bill dubbed the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” the Arkansas House passed three amendments to the measure that sealed the bill’s fate for the governor’s desk.

Acxiom CEO Scott Howe and Chief Legal Officer Jerry Jones have signed a letter calling on Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto HB 1228, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Acxiom, a Little Rock-based technology firm, is one of the biggest database marketers in the world. It employs about 1,760 workers in Arkansas.

Howe and Jones said in their letter that they “respectfully request” the governor to veto the legislation.

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On Thursday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson officially named Mike Preston as the new executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, the state agency charged with recruiting and retaining jobs. Preston comes from Enterprise Florida, that state’s economic development arm.

Preston appeared on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, which will be broadcast Monday at 6:06 p.m. on KUAR.

Preston, 32, spent six years with Enterprise Florida and also worked for a State Representative and State Senator in the Florida Legislature.

Arkansas Economic Development Commission Director Mike Preston.
TalkBusiness.net

 Gov. Asa Hutchinson will turn to the Sunshine State for his new director of economic development.

Talk Business & Politics and The City Wire have learned that Mike Preston, vice president for Government Relations with Enterprise Florida, has been tapped to be the new director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

AEDC is the state’s job development agency and works to recruit and retain businesses in the state. Former director Grant Tennille was not retained in the position by Gov. Hutchinson.

Leslie Rutledge Attorney General
Talk Business & Politics

With the Arkansas Supreme Court ruling this past week declaring the state’s lethal injection procedures as constitutional, executions in Arkansas are set to move forward after a decade of being on hold.

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