Arkansas Business

Gloria Smith Canvasses To Get Out The Vote
PBS NewsHour

This story was jointly produced by KUAR's Jacob Kauffman with PBS NewsHour.

This election, voters in several states including Arkansas will go to the polls and vote on proposals to raise the state minimum wage.

The Arkansas rate is $6.25 an hour. The state is one of three with a rate below the federal minimum wage, and that has political groups out canvassing neighborhoods to get support for the increase.

A judge is giving Big River Steel more time to respond to a federal lawsuit that seeks to stop the billion-dollar project from moving forward in northeast Arkansas.

U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes agreed Wednesday for a 28-day extension for the company to respond to the federal lawsuit filed by Nucor Steel. The lawsuit seeks to block Big River Steel from building its $1.3 billion steel mill south of Osceola and also seeks a revocation of the company's air permit issued by the state.

Protesters in the Street
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

As part of a nationwide strike, about 50 to 100 protestors gathered outside a McDonalds in downtown Little Rock Thursday, demanding higher pay for fast-food workers. Little Rock Police say 11 of the protesters, who blocked off a portion of Broadway Street, were arrested for disorderly conduct after refusing to move back onto the sidewalk. 36-year old Twanna Scales is a divorced mother of three and works at the McDonalds on Broadway. She said the tactic of blocking traffic is meant to get people talking.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

The Environmental Protection Agency’s draft of a rule to cut the nation’s power plant emissions by a rate of 30 percent by 2030 has the state’s utilities, business leaders and environmental groups at odds. Thursday, those stakeholders presented their differing views on how Arkansas fits into the national goal of lowering emissions.

Teresa Marks, director of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, welcomed the various stakeholders for a meeting focusing on the economic impacts of the drafted rule.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

The construction of a new 2.1 million dollar Arkansas River Resource Center is heralding future economic development opportunities for the Port of Little Rock, according to city and federal officials. As KUAR’s Chris Hickey reports, the center’s presence is just one piece of a site that has become an economic engine for Central Arkansas.

wood pellets
Wikimedia Commons

A new $130 million dollar wood pellet plant is to be built in Pine Bluff, creating 35 new jobs.

Highland Pellets announced Wednesday that groundbreaking is expected in October, with deliveries scheduled to begin in March 2016.

The facility will produce wood pellets, which can be used as an alternative fuel source.

Last month, another company announced plans for a wood pellet plant in south Arkansas. Zilkha Biomass Energy says it will build a plant in Monticello, creating 52 jobs.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek

The Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport announced a $20.5 million concourse renovation plan Tuesday. The proposal includes a modernized interior, additional gate seating with chargers for portable devices, new jet bridges and new arrival and departure monitors.

According to Ronald Mathieu, Executive Director of the Clinton National Airport, ridership was down five percent last year. He said interior improvements will be good for business.

Arkansas Times

Whirlpool Corp. is seeking additional testing for toxic chemicals in Fort Smith and the area Boys & Girls Club based on new contamination findings.

The Southwest Times Record reports Whirlpool spokesman Jeff Noel told youth club directors Tuesday that the company is seeking permission to test for trichloroethylene. The chemical is linked to increased cancer risks.

Noel says monitoring equipment has discovered the chemical in local groundwater but not soil. He says further testing is needed to determine if contaminants migrated under a road and onto the club property.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

After the general counsel for National Labor Relations Board said this week fast-food chain McDonald’s could be held liable along with its franchises for any labor violations, a demonstration was held outside one Little Rock restaurant on Friday.  

Monticello will soon be the site of a facility specializing in the production of a dense, water resistant wood pellet, marketed as an alternative to coal fuel. The Houston, Texas-based Zilkha Biomass Energy will locate the first facility of its kind in the state, choosing an area known for its timber production and densely forested lands. The company says it will employ 52 people and invest 90 million dollars in the area, according to a news release.

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