Arkansas Economy

Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he has a list of companies in Japan and China that he plans to visit in the coming days during his Far East trade mission in hopes those countries will consider future capital ventures and investments in Arkansas.

“It is important for the governor of Arkansas to market the state, and to bring opportunity,” Hutchinson said at the annual meeting of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas held at the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock. “I will be able to knock on their door.”

File photo: Governor Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas Economic Development Commission director Mike Preston.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is traveling to China and Japan later this month to meet with companies looking at locating and expanding in the state.

The Republican governor on Friday announced he's leaving Nov. 15 on a trip to the two countries with state Economic Development Commission Executive Director Mike Preston. Hutchinson said the trip is being paid for by the commission and its nonprofit foundation.

jobs unemployment employment
www.purdue.edu

More than 50,000 workers across the U.S. will join the unemployment line ahead of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons, but the good news is that employers are cutting fewer positions than a year ago, according to the latest layoff report released Thursday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The October Arkansas tax revenue report shows a 1% gain in overall collections, but a healthy increase in fiscal year-to-date sales and use tax revenue which is a signal of consumer confidence.

For the first four months of the fiscal year which began in July, state tax collections total $2.012 billion, up 1% compared to the same period in 2014 and 3.4% above what was forecast, according to the revenue report posted Tuesday (Nov. 3) by the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration.

Cuba Governor
Governor's Office

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is asking leaders in Congress to ease credit restrictions on Cuba. It follows a three-day trade mission to the communist island by the governor and a delegation of state business leaders in September who hope to open new markets for Arkansas products.

The newly hired chief of Walmart’s energy division told members of the Arkansas Advance Energy Association on Tuesday that the retail giant’s ultimate goal in becoming 100% sustainable and supplied by renewable energy is still to reduce costs and bring lower prices to the retail giant’s millions of customers

“My responsibility as we execute these (goals) that we are doing is that at the same time we are reducing costs to Walmart and passing it on to the customers,” said Mark Vanderhelm, vice president of Walmart energy.

Arkansas’s unemployment rate  dropped to 5.2 percent in September according to the state's Department of Workforce Services. 

There were 2,500 fewer unemployed Arkansans in September. 1,400 workers left the job market and 1,100 new workers found employment. 

"The size of the civilian labor force declined slightly, as the decrease in the number of unemployed more than offset the gain in employment," Susan Price from the department explained in a statement. 

A medical device company is expanding its manufacturing facility in north Arkansas and says it will be adding 225 jobs during the next five years.

Baxter International Inc. announced Thursday it is expanding its Mountain Home facility, which has been in operation since 1964. The current plant is 55,000 square feet and employs about 1,000 people.

About 120,000 shoppers are predicted to visit the Outlets of Little Rock this weekend. The highly anticipated shopping center is set to open Friday alongside Bass Pro Shops near the interchange of interstates 30 and 430.

For months there has been a buzz as participating retailers have been announced. But it has taken decades for it to become a reality.

August home sales in Arkansas’ four largest markets were off the pace of the previous three months, but sales for the first eight months of the year are up more than 8% and the value of those sales is up more than 13.5%. Homes are also selling faster in the four markets.

The healthy year-to-date pace in Arkansas is driven by an almost 14% gain in Northwest Arkansas home sales and a more than 6% gain in central Arkansas.

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