Roby Brock

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

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State Senate President Pro Tempore Jonathan Dismang (R-Beebe)
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

The Arkansas State Senate’s afternoon chamber business will begin live-streaming its audio beginning Tuesday when it convenes at 1:30 p.m.

State Sen. Jonathan Dismang told Talk Business & Politics a week ago that the Senate would begin using the technology within a week.

“We’d hope to kick it off a little bit sooner, but we will be live-streaming the Senate,” Dismang said at the time.

The State Senate will only audio live-stream its full chamber business through its web site, not committee meetings at this point.

Before his run for Arkansas Governor, Mike Ross was looking forward to retirement from Congress and serving as SVP for Governmental Affairs for regional electricity transmission operator Southwest Power Pool.

The company announced on Monday that Ross was elected to that post and Malinda See as Vice President of Corporate Services.

“I am so pleased to welcome Mike and Malinda to the officer team,” said Nick Brown, SPP CEO. “They bring unique perspectives and leadership experiences that will immediately add to our already strong executive group.”

With the early session push to approve Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s signature tax cut plan and the challenge of pushing the private option’s fate to a task force eyeing end of the year recommendations, two state lawmakers said prison reform will likely be the next big agenda item for the state Legislature.

Three technology companies announced plans to locate new facilities in downtown Conway, investing $2.5 million and adding 140 new jobs.

Talk Business and Politics report Metova Inc., a mobile app development company; Big Cloud Analytics, a predictive analytics software company; and Eyenalyze, a Conway-based company that has developed innovative software for use in the food service sector; will invest a combined $2.5 million and create 140 new jobs.

iron yard
theironyard.com

The Iron Yard, a coding school with a national reputation, is opening shop in Central Arkansas. The Ark Challenge, Gravity Ventures and Innovate Arkansas are supporting the Little Rock launch.

The Iron Yard originated in Greenville, South Carolina, and specializes in advanced education in software application development, web design, coding and engineering. They partner with accelerators and co-working spaces to assist with people and their ideas.

Arkansas’ unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percent to 5.7% in December as the number of the employed rose and the universe of unemployed decreased.

In the separate monthly nonfarm payroll jobs report, big gains were seen in the construction, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, and education/health sectors.

  AT&T said it will hire 120 new workers across that state for primarily technician and retail sales jobs. AT&T said the jobs can be full-time and part-time and will include “competitive wages and benefits.” The company currently employs more than 2,300 employees throughout the state and it hired 350 workers in Arkansas last year. AT&T noted it is committed to diversity and veteran recruiting.

The Little Rock Technology Park announced that Darrin Williams was appointed to the Authority’s Board effective immediately. Williams is the CEO of Arkadelphia-based Southern Bancorp and is a former State Representative from Little Rock.

Williams will complete the term of Bob Johnson, who resigned from the Board on November 12, 2014.

UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson said the appointment of Darrin Williams was based on his outstanding leadership in the Little Rock community and his distinguished record in public service.

Asa Hutchinson
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Arkansas lawmakers had plenty of positive comments after Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s speech to the 90th General Assembly. Hutchinson, who was sworn in as Arkansas’ 46th Governor on Tuesday, delivered a direct speech to a joint session of the legislature, touching on key issues that will be debated at the state Capitol for the next three months.

Those issues include tax cuts, education, health care, prisons, and much more.

Arkansas growers set or tied state records for yields in six crops in 2014, exceeding the national average in per-acre yield in four categories.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2014 Crop Production Annual Survey released Monday, Arkansas growers set state records for cotton, corn for grain, all rice and long grain rice, soybeans and sweet potatoes. Average yields for corn, cotton, long grain rice and soybeans all exceeded national averages.

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