A new monthly survey suggests the economy remains strong in Arkansas and eight other Midwest and Plains states and business will continue to improve in the months ahead.
The overall index for the region declined to 55.6 in June from 56.2 in May, but any score above 50 suggests growth. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says business leaders expect slower growth in the next few months.
Arkansas's sales tax jumps by half a cent Monday with the proceeds funding state highway improvements.
Voters OK'd the temporary tax last year to help address a shortfall in highway funds. The $1.8 billion raised will be added to other revenue to provide $6 billion in road funding during the next decade.
State highway officials say Arkansas needs about $23 billion to tackle all the necessary projects. With the increase, Arkansas' new sales tax rate will be 6.5 percent.
Last week, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Christopher Thyer, announced that a Little Rock man, alleged to have been a pimp and trafficker, was convicted in federal court on one count of sex trafficking.
It was a first for his district, saying "It had been there for quite some time, and the biggest reason some of these cases are coming forward is awareness."
Thyer says awareness is on the rise, but many people don’t know that sex trafficking could be occurring in their area.
The state's revenue picture is getting rosier. Finance officials say a boost in sales tax collections helped keep the revenues for Arkansas above expectations last month.
The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration said Tuesday the state's net available revenue in May totaled $334.2 million. That's $2 million below the same month last year, but $8.4 million above forecast.
The state's year-to-date revenue total $4.4 billion, which is $172.4 million above forecast. Arkansas' fiscal year ends June 30.
A brand new tool for research and economic development was unveiled on Monday at UALR.
The Emerging Analytics Center includes 35 screens with more than 50 million pixels offering high definition graphics for 3D applications. Connected with a 3D floor projector, it allows the ability to “touch” the data and robotic “telepresence” equipment.
Governor Mike Beebe said, "It's kind of over my head from the standpoint of the technology of it. What's exciting is it's the only one in the world, apparently."
Close to $3 million in grant money is being awarded to 16 agricultural researchers to develop more sustainable methods for growing strawberries.
The project is funded by the Walmart Foundation and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture's Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability is administering the awards. Winners were announced Wednesday.