Roby Brock

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

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A new Talk Business-Hendrix College Poll shows the race between party front-runners Mike Ross (D) and Asa Hutchinson (R) to be a virtual dead heat, with the Democrat up by one point – 44-43% – over his potential GOP rival.

“This is not where this race will end up, but it is a representation of where it is today,” said Talk Business & Politics editor-in-chief Roby Brock.

“The anticipated match-up between Mike Ross and Asa Hutchinson appears to be very close. Against their underdog rivals, these two front-runners appear to be in solid shape.”

A year after the Mayflower oil spill, ExxonMobil executives are submitting a pipeline remediation plan to federal regulators that will include extraordinary integrity testing measures that may take more than a year to complete.

In an exclusive interview with Talk Business & Politics, vice-president for U.S. Pipeline Operations Karen Tyrone said the Pegasus pipeline will be put through inline testing, verification digs, and hydrotesting to stress the pipe beyond any weak points.

Simmons First National Corp. will acquire Little Rock-based Delta Trust & Banking Corp. for roughly $66 million, Talk Business Arkansas reports.

The Pine Bluff-based bank said it has entered into a definitive agreement and plan of merger with Delta Trust. According to the terms of the agreement, Simmons First will acquire all of the outstanding common stock of Delta Trust in a transaction valued at approximately $66 million, subject to potential adjustments.

A third, and likely final, wave of layoffs at Little Rock-based Acxiom Corp. began on Wednesday as the database marketer continued its push to realign its workforce to meet changing industry demands.

Acxiom indicated in November 2013 it would cut its overall labor force by March in an effort to save $20-$30 million annually.

Acxiom has been investing in new products and services geared towards more sophisticated consumer data collection and target marketing via the Internet as some of its traditional, core business silos have seen declines in revenue and profitability.

A slice of drama was cut from the state capitol on Tuesday as a state senator previously opposed to the private option said she would now vote to fund it.

State Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock) got something in return, however. English, a long-time advocate for restructuring workforce education and training in Arkansas, said she has received support from fellow lawmakers and Gov. Mike Beebe to fundamentally alter programs tied to workforce investment.

Gov. Mike Beebe said Tuesday there are a “multiplicity” of reasons Arkansas Legislators should vote to fund Arkansas’ private option plan, and he also took a shot at Republican gubernatorial candidates who “don’t understand the budget” with respect to the private option.

More Arkansans feel the state is heading in the right direction than the wrong direction and a majority identify the economy and jobs as their top issue of concern.

Arkansas voters view the private option insurance plan more favorably than unfavorably, according to a new survey from Talk Business and Hendrix College.

Acxiom Corp. began a round of layoffs this week that corporate leaders suggested would be forthcoming when they last reported earnings.

Mike Stafford CEG Partners
Talk Business Arkansas

Talk Business Arkansas — in conjunction with the State Chamber of Commerce and consulting group CEG Partners — released its first “Business Leaders Confidence Survey,” which found that company leaders across Arkansas see sizable revenue growth in 2014 but it may not correlate to hiring or capital investments.