Listen to the interview with reporter Mark Friedman of Arkansas Business.
There's more scrutiny now of Arkansas's economic incentives programs. Hewlett-Packard, which received $10 million from the Governor's Quick Action Closing Fund in 2008, announced earlier this year that it would be laying off employees at its Conway center. Those layoffs and others have led some to question the state incentives companies like HP must pay back when layoffs occur. Arkansas Business reports that state economic development officials say companies should expect to pay back at least some of the money they receive if they fail to meet certain employment numbers. In addition to HP, Allied Wireless, Nice-Pak of Jonesboro and Pinnacle Foods in Fayetteville have had to repay $215,000 back to the state, after receiving $8 million from the Quick Action Fund. All three companies failed to meet employment goals. The Arkansas Economic Development Commission says it is also negotiating clawbacks with Nordex USA after it announced layoffs at its Jonesboro Plant. KUAR's Chris Hickey talks with Mark Friedman of Arkansas Business about the Quick Action Closing Fund and how it works in the state.
Efforts to stimulate economic investment in rural communities across Arkansas are outlined in a new report by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.
Dr. Wayne Miller, an extension economist, says the Rural Profile of Arkansas 2013 report shows how many manufacturing jobs in small towns have been shipped overseas to South America and Asia in recent years.
State Economic Development officials say Hewlett Packard no longer fulfills a benchmark that allows them to receive the same incentives established when its Conway facility opened in 2010.
Grant Tennille, director of the Arkansas Department of Economic Development, told KUAR News that after laying off 500 employees, HP no longer has the 1,000 workers at its service center which was a requirement for the computer company to receive its full-incentive package from the state.
He said the state will work with HP to determine how much money needs to be returned.
Nordex USA says it is shuttering its Jonesboro production facility that once promised to employ 750 workers.
The plant, which manufactured “nacelles” for large wind turbines said it will complete the orders in its pipeline and then shut the $40 million factory down. Nacelles house the engine and other key turbine components and sit high atop a wind turbine tower.
There has been a slight increase in the state’s unemployment rate, according to officials with the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services. The jobless rate for July was up one-tenth of a percentage point to 7.4 percent.
Bernadette Coleman is the Bureau of Labor Statistics manager with the department. She says the small hike is partially due to seasonal factors.
"The summer has something to do with it. One thing I particularly think about is the school situation, because schools are still out in July… so the summertime does make a difference,” said Coleman.
Remington Arms Company is breaking ground on a $32 million expansion of its ammunition plant in Arkansas. Gov. Mike Beebe, U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor and other officials were expected to be on hand Thursday for the expansion of the ammunition plant in Lonoke. Remington announced in May it would expand the facility, which was established in 1969. The North Carolina-based company said it expected the expansion will include a new building and the plan will be completed and in operation by the second quarter of 2014.