Arkansas Economy

Natural Gas Drilling Mt. Vernon in Faulkner County
Arkansas Times

BHP Billiton said Tuesday that it plans to make further spending cuts to its U.S. onshore oil and gas development, pushing the Australia industrial giant’s current U.S. shale play budget down nearly 60% from $3.7 billion to $1.5 billion for the upcoming fiscal year.

Of that operating budget, the Sydney, Australia-based mining and industrial conglomerate plans to spend only $200 million in the Arkansas shale play to maintain ongoing production at 45 natural gas wells that the company has already drilled and completed.

military vehicle lockheed martin tom cotton asa hutchinson
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Top Lockheed Martin executives said they expect to hear a decision in August or September on two high stakes Pentagon contracts that will play a large role in the U.S. military’s future ground and air combat effectiveness, including the $30 billion Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) project that could land in Camden’s Highland Industrial Park.

jobs unemployment employment
www.purdue.edu

Arkansas’ unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percentage point in June as the state’s civilian labor pool grew by 200 workers, according to U.S. labor force data released Tuesday by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services.

The Little Rock Technology Park Authority Board on Wednesday unanimously approved a motion by Chairwoman Mary Goode to request a $6.8 million advance from the City of Little Rock to fund the purchase of prime downtown real estate from Stephens Inc. in the fast-growing Creative Corridor on Main Street.

The Department of Human Services begins a series of town halls across Arkansas Tuesday about an upcoming change in the coding system used by all medical providers.

Robinson Auditorium
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

On the one year anniversary of Little Rock’s historic Robinson Auditorium closing to begin a nearly $70 million renovation, a topping out ceremony was held Wednesday. The final steel beam that will be put in place on the expanded structure was signed by local officials, members of the design and construction teams and other guests. Work is scheduled to be completed by November 2016.

It’s déjà vu all over again.

A longtime Jonesboro company broke ground on a $12 million, 62,000 square foot facility that will bring up to 75 new jobs to the company.

The expansion groundbreaking for Hytrol Conveyor Co. was the 10th one at its facility on Arkansas 18 and the first one since 1999, the company’s chairman, Robert Jones, said before the shovel-turning event.

The company, which makes conveyors for companies like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Macy’s and Fed Ex, moved to Jonesboro in 1962.

military vehicle lockheed martin tom cotton asa hutchinson
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

A Pentagon official confirmed that a decision on the $30 billion award for Joint Light Tactical Vehicle project remains on schedule for an award in the fiscal fourth quarter, which for the U.S. military concludes at the end of September, Talk Business & Politics has learned.

Arkansas severance tax collections fell more than 50% in May from year ago levels as the state’s rig count plummeted to single digits and drilling crews are leaving the state for other richer wet shale plays across the U.S., according to state severance tax and employment data and industry reports.

That has left state tax revenue for natural gas production at just over $4 million in May, down 54.5% from $8.8 million a year ago, according to monthly tax data compiled by the Revenue Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration.

Cotton farmers in Arkansas are expected this year to plant the fewest acres ever in Arkansas' cotton growing history.

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension estimates that cotton acreage could fall below 200,000 for the first time.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated in March that the cotton acreage would drop by more than 30 percent from last year. The previous low in the state was in 2013 with 310,000 acres.

Division economists say 90 percent of the drop in planting is due to falling U.S. per pound cotton prices.

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