Arkansas Economy

Governor Asa Hutchinson Skype
Governor's Office

After seeing thousands of nondurable apparel manufacturing jobs leave eastern Arkansas since the early 1990s, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and his economic development team are bringing 400 of those jobs back to the state.

Students
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / Arkansas Public Media

Marvell-Elaine schools bus driver Larry Greer’s route twists through the Arkansas Delta, between the White and Mississippi Rivers. “All together I go from Elaine to Snow Lake, 65 miles round trip,” he said, while elementary school kids filed onto his bus for the afternoon ride home.

These are country bus stops along country roads. The way is long. In the morning, Greer says, he will wait only so long at an empty stop before he snaps his levered doors closed again. “If they don’t come out, they’re not going that day.”

Arkansas finance officials say the state's revenue in September again fell below expectations and the same month last year.

The Department of Finance and Administration on Tuesday said the state's net available revenue last month totaled $515.5 million, which is $500,000 below the same month a year ago and $16.7 million below the forecast. The state's net available revenue so far for the fiscal year that began July 1 totaled $1.3 billion, which is $4.3 million below the same point last year and $32 million below forecast.

Two manufacturers in Little Rock have announced plans for a $6.4 million expansion that will create 43 new jobs.

G.C. Evans Sales and Manufacturing and Sleeve Seal announced the expansion Monday. The two companies are now based in a facility on south Woodrow Street but will move all operations to a site in south Little Rock as part of the expansion.

G.C. Evans makes packaging and processing equipment for the food, bottling and pharmaceutical industries, while Sleeve Seal supplies high-speed labeling equipment and shrink labels for the packaging industry.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / Arkansas Public Media

Funding cuts for mental health services through Medicaid are taking effect October 1, despite a last-ditch effort at the state legislature Friday to walk back a change that some say could have dire consequences.

The cuts, finalized last week, would limit group therapy length from an hour and a half to an hour and set a cap of 25 counseling visits per year for Medicaid recipients who might otherwise go every week.

The vote to revisit the decision failed to gain two thirds from the Arkansas Legislative Council Friday morning.

Downtown Magnolia, Arkansas.
flickr.com

A fuel-cell manufacturer has notified local officials that it will shut its plant in Magnolia, putting about 300 people out of work in south Arkansas.

Magnolia Mayor Parnell Vann says he was notified last week that American Fuel Cells and Coated Fabrics Co., also known as Amfuel, will shut down production at its plant. The manufacturer has been located in Magnolia for more than 60 years.

A spokesman for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission says the agency was notified of the plant's closure and said the company received no state incentives.

Map of unemployment rate change from August 2015 to August 2016.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

For the third straight month Arkansas’s unemployment rate is holding steady at 3.9 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ August report. It is a full point below an also flat nationwide unemployment rate.

A 4x4 utility vehicle sold by Intimidator Inc.
Intimidator Inc.

A utility vehicle and mower manufacturer in Batesville announced on Monday it plans to add 400 employees to its operation.

Over $12-million will be poured into an expansion of Intimidator Incorporated’s existing facility in Batesville and the construction of an entirely new plant nearby in the Independence County Industrial Park. 400 jobs are expected to be created over a four year period.

While a better Arkansas economy has helped lower the state’s 2013-2015 food insecurity rate to 19.2% from the 19.7% in the 2010-2012 period, national and regional food bank officials say more help is needed and the rates remain above pre-recession realities.

Asa Hutchinson
Arkansas Times

Gov. Asa Hutchinson kicked off the annual Arkansas Hospitality Convention in Little Rock on Wednesday  by touting the impact the fast-growing tourism industry is having on the state's overall economic expansion.

Citing a recent U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report designating Arkansas as the nation’s economic leader during the first quarter, Hutchinson told convention-goers gathered at the Statehouse Convention Center that the tourism sector has also play a key role in recent job growth and low unemployment levels.

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