Arkansas Economy

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson will leave Saturday for a weeklong economic development trip to France and Germany as part of a business recruiting effort.

Hutchinson said Thursday that he'll meet with aerospace companies at the Paris Air Show, which is the world's largest aviation and aerospace trade show. He then goes to Germany for an international metallurgical trade show.

The $129,000 trip includes meetings with at least 17 different prospective companies, but Hutchinson said he doesn't anticipate any new business announcements when he returns on June 19.

Arkansas Sees Tepid 0.8% GDP Growth In 2014, Farming Income Drops 19.9%

Jun 11, 2015

Arkansas’ real gross domestic product (GDP) output lost momentum in 2014 as the Natural State’s economic growth fell well below the rest of the nation and surrounding states, according to information released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) speaks to the Arkansas Workforce Development Board in Little Rock.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The newly constituted Arkansas Workforce Development Board held its first meeting Tuesday to begin building a long-term plan to re-align public education, skills training and industry needs.

The AWDB was created as part of a larger overhaul of the state’s workforce services passed in the Arkansas Legislature’s 2014 regular session.

Robinson Auditorium Center Music Hall
City of Little Rock

As workers begin to rebuild the interior of Little Rock's Robinson Auditorium, a key goal of the nearly $70 million renovation is to greatly improve its acoustics.

There had long been complaints about how live music sounded in the venue, which is the home of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. There were "dead spots" in the hall where the audience couldn’t properly hear the orchestra or all the instruments. That’s why the facility has been gutted and is being rebuilt inside the existing structure as part of the voter-approved project, funded with a two percent tourism tax.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) speaking at a ribbon cutting for MISO in March 2015 before the facility was fully online.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

A $22 million electric grid control center operated by Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator (MISO) officially turned the switch at midnight Monday to become the company’s hub for delivering electricity to Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.

Todd Hillman, the vice president of MISO’s southern operations said transferring control from its Indiana headquarters to Little Rock signals a growing energy demand in the region.

Southwest Steel Processing announced Monday it plans to invest $18 million in its Newport plant, adding a second forging line and creating 100 new jobs over the next two years. The state will contribute an additional $11 million to the project. Scott Hardin, from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, says the company chose to expand in Arkansas due to the capability of the existing workforce and community.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Work is nearing the halfway point on a nearly $70 million project to renovate Little Rock’s historic Robinson Auditorium.

Nearly everything has now been ripped out, including the stage, balcony, interior walls and floors, leaving little more than the outside shell of the building and its support beams.

Former President Clinton: Energy, Broadband Would Help Delta

May 28, 2015
Bill Clinton
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Former President Bill Clinton said Wednesday that alternative and more efficient energy, New Markets Tax Credit loans, and more broadband access would help areas along the Mississippi Delta enjoy more economic growth.

Clinton addressed by telephone the Delta Grassroots Caucus, a seven-state coalition of advocates and legislators meeting this week in Little Rock.

Lockheed Martin Rivals Ready To Compete For JLTV Project Despite Arkansas Efforts

May 28, 2015
Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin

Although Lockheed Martin has firm support for an $87 million financing package from the state of Arkansas, a Washington, D.C.-based defense budget expert said there is no reason to believe that the Bethesda, Md.-based defense contractor has an advantage over rivals in the high-stakes Joint Light Tactical Vehicle acquisition for 55,000 new tactical ground vehicles for the nation’s military.

Arkansas Jobless Rate Loses Ground As National Picture Improves

May 27, 2015

Arkansas’ seasonally adjusted jobless rate rose one-tenth of a percentage point as the U.S. unemployment rate fell in April as more than 223,000 jobs were added to the nation’s fast-growing labor pool, according to the monthly labor force data compiled and produced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

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