Roby Brock

Content Contributor

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

Ways to Connect

State business, education and policy leaders are meeting at the Marriott Hotel in Little Rock to discuss strategies for deploying more broadband throughout Arkansas.

The Connecting Arkansas Internet Conference, spearheaded by Connect Arkansas, is being held Thursday and Friday.

While the room during the opening presentation was full of experts in the field, Gov. Mike Beebe (D) made no pretense that he should be included on the list.

Arkansas will lose one of its iconic bank names after a bankruptcy auction concluded on Monday. Pine Bluff-based Simmons First National Corp. has won the bidding war for Little Rock-based Metropolitan National Bank, according to Talk Business Arkansas sources and confirmed by Simmons First.

In a surprise move, Bentonville-based Arvest Bank and Pine Bluff-based Simmons First National Corp. submitted bids to acquire Little Rock-based Metropolitan National Bank, whose parent company, Rogers Bancshares, Inc., is embroiled in a bankruptcy proceeding.

Talk Business Arkansas reports Arvest’s bid was announced in a legal notice in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for an undisclosed figure, while Simmons First disclosed a $16.9 million bid in a SEC filing.

Sales grew and so did profits, but Bentonville-based Wal-Mart had a rocky quarter as same-store sales struggled and the retail giant warned of a challenging environment.

The company posted total quarterly revenues of $116.95 billion compared to $114.28 billion one year ago. Net income rose to $4.07 billion, or $1.24 per diluted share, versus $4.02 billion, or $1.18 per diluted share, in last year’s comparable period. Wall Street estimates were looking for Wal-Mart to record $1.25 per diluted share.

Tom Cotton
Roby Brock/ Talk Business Arkansas

After months of speculation and with great fanfare, Rep. Tom Cotton (R) threw his hat in the 2014 U.S. Senate race, challenging incumbent Democrat Sen. Mark Pryor (D), whom he labeled a follower of President Obama and the Washington elite.

Cotton, Arkansas’ first-term Fourth District Congressman, made his announcement in his hometown to a crowd of hundreds of supporters in Dardanelle (Yell County) at a community barbecue dinner.

A July 26, 2013 letter sent to Arkansas elected officials and representatives of Central Arkansas Water from Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. president Gary Pruessing suggests a commitment to more dialogue, but not to quick action as the pipeline company and local leaders exchange concerns in the aftermath of the Mayflower oil spill.

The Arkansas Times announced Thursday it will begin charging for access to the digital offerings on its web site.

Fidelity National Information Services appears poised to add 150 new jobs and invest $3 million at its campus in west Little Rock.

Talk Business Arkansas reports a resolution on the city of Little Rock board of directors agenda indicates that Jacksonville, Fla.-based Fidelity will seek to utilize the state’s Arkansas Tax Back program for a partial sales tax rebate on new technology equipment, HVAC, office equipment and work stations.

Little Rock-based Baptist Health System says it will lay off 170 workers across its statewide health care network and one industry leader says more hospitals could follow suit.

Baptist Health has hospitals, clinics and medical facilities throughout Arkansas. The health care organization is one of the state’s largest private employers with more than 7,300 workers.

In a statement provided to members of the media, Mark Lowman, Vice President, Strategic Development at Baptist Health said:

Hewlett-Packard is laying off about 500 workers in Conway as it streamlines its operations at its three-year old $28 million customer support facility and abroad.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer firm opened its Conway service center in 2010 amid tremendous fanfare.

The company told employees in its customer loyalty center on Monday afternoon that it would provide severance packages to nearly 500 workers and help with finding employment for those displaced.