Arkansas Business

Nearly two years after singing the praises of new downtown offices in Little Rock’s River Market District, First Orion announced Monday that it is moving its global headquarters across the river to North Little Rock’s Argenta District due to growing space needs.

In a ceremony with North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith and First Orion CEO Charles Morgan, the growing Central Arkansas tech firm said it has selected a building site at the 500 block of Main Street in North Little Rock to house its future workforce of more than 200 people.

A robot scanning a Walmart store shelf.
Walmart

Select Arkansas Walmart stores in Sherwood, Searcy, and Pine Bluff are expected to receive robots Tuesday to aid associates in their work. It’s part of an expanded test that started in Pennsylvania, with the retail giant implementing robots in 50 of its locations. The robots will use automation to scan store shelves, help keep track of inventory levels, check prices that could be wrong, or where labels are missing.

USDA - McKeand

A timber company with deep Arkansas ties and a headquarters in El Dorado is being acquired in a $1.18 billion deal by Potlatch Corporation. The Spokane, Washington-based operation, now to be known as PotlatchDeltic Corporation, will have 1,500 employees combined, 2-million acres of timberland, and is estimated to be worth $4 billion. Deltic’s contribution is 530,000 acres in Arkansas and Louisiana.

Potlatch CEO Mike Covey will stay at the helm of the combined company. He told investors on Monday that he expects more activity out of south Arkansas forests and mills.

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.

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