Arkansas Business

Grass Roots Farmers' Cooperative in Clinton consider so-called locavores and farm-to-table chefs who want assurance their meat is raised organically their target demographic, and they're turning to the emerging information system blockchain technology for its ease and thoroughness of reporting.

Blockchain works by providing a shared digital ledger of trusted information that cannot be edited and is not controlled by any one person.  It promises to provide at the speed of a webpage load a full history of a product, service or idea. 

This same technology is also being tried by the world's largest food retailers like Walmart who are perhaps more concerned with quickly tracking the source of food contamination in the event of an outbreak or health scare.

Delta Regional Authority
dra.gov

The White House has nominated a member of U.S. Sen. John Boozman's staff to serve as co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority.

Officials announced the nomination Wednesday of Chris Caldwell, who now serves as director of special projects for Boozman. The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership that works to improve regional economic opportunity in the Mississippi River Delta region.

Fayetteville-based Arvest Bank is acquiring Little Rock-based Bear State Bank in a deal valued at $391 million that is expected to close no later than the first quarter of 2018, and will push Arvest to almost $20 billion in assets.

The deal was announced early Tuesday and equals $10.28 per share of Bear State stock.

Thinly-traded Bear State shares (NASDAQ: BSF) closed Monday at $9.20 and were up almost 11% in Tuesday morning trading. During the past 52 weeks, the share price ranged between $8.65 and $10.95.

Hope Union Pacific
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Union Pacific Corp., which operates more than 1,300 miles of railroad track in Arkansas, announced plans to cut up to 750 jobs that will impact management and administrative positions across the company’s operations.

According to an 8K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Union Pacific’s board of directors approved and initiated the personnel reorganization plan to further its “ongoing efforts to increase efficiency and more effectively align company resources.”

An online company that delivers groceries is making its way into the central Arkansas market tomorrow, hoping to appeal to customers by changing the way they view shopping. 

The San Francisco-based company Instacart, already in 33 states and the nation’s capital, is expanding into markets across the country at a rapid pace.

rice fields
Mickey Liaw / Flickr.com

After efforts to normalize trade relations between the United States and Cuba were stalled by President Donald Trump, members of Arkansas’s Congressional Delegation have set their sights on a new trade partner: China.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is beginning a two-day agriculture tour of farms in the rice-producing regions of east and northeast Arkansas. A statement from the governor’s office says he plans to discuss critical issues for the agriculture community, including flooding this year, row crop farming, and the possibility of rice sales to China.

North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

North Little Rock voters will decide the fate of a proposed sales tax increase Tuesday. If approved, the city’s portion of sales tax revenue would increase from one percent to two percent, adding another penny to every dollar of taxable items. Half the increase would be permanent, but the other half cent would last for only the next five years.

Kenny Wallis, a conservative activist and North Little Rock resident, has campaigned against tax increases in central Arkansas since 2011.

The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services says the state’s unemployment rate remained stable in June, at 3.4 percent. That rate remains lower than the national unemployment rate, which ticked upward by a tenth of a percent to 4.4 percent for the month.

The DWS says the civilian labor force grew by about 9,000 in June to 1.36 million people—which also represents an increase of about 20,000 over the same period last year.

NASA

NASA’s presence in Arkansas may be increasing thanks to recent grants and potential contracts.

Earlier this month the University of Arkansas was awarded two grants by NASA to fund space technology research, one of which could include conducting experiments on the International Space Station. Following that announcement, Governor Asa Hutchinson probed Space X CEO Elon Musk for his thoughts on the federal space program at last week’s meeting of the National Governors Association.

The Arlington Hotel
www.arlingtonhotel.com

A group from Little Rock is acquiring the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs for an undisclosed amount of money.

The Hot Springs Sentinel-Record newspaper reported Monday that Sky Capital Group LP is buying the state's largest hotel from Southwest Hotels Inc., which has operated the hotel since 1954.

The Arlington Hotel has 478 rooms, along with a spa, a bathhouse, a convention center, ballroom and lobby bar. Sky Capital also operates the Four Points Sheraton in Little Rock.

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