Arkansas Economy

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.

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

The Department of Finance and Administration on Friday said last month's net available revenue totaled $416.1 million, which is $5.2 million below August 2015 and $8.4 million below forecast. The state's net available revenue for the fiscal year that began July 1 totals $816.8 million, which is $3.8 million below the same point last year and $15.3 million below forecast

Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas and federal officials have extended an agreement for a research center that's aimed at enhancing regulatory science.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding extending for another five years their partnership on the Arkansas Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science.

The center was established in 2011 at the FDA's National Center for Toxicological Research and is aimed at modernizing regulatory science to help move safer products to the market, according to the MOU.

River Market District
inarkansas.com

New employees of the City of Little Rock may receive a financial incentive to reside within the municipality.

The city’s Board of Directors is considering a $5,000 dollar gift for employees who buy homes in town, or $2,500 to employees who rent in Little Rock. The board discussed possible residency incentive for city employees at its meeting Tuesday.

City spokesperson Jennifer Godwin says the proposal was inspired by a recent failed initiative to require police officers to live within city limits.

Talk Business and Politics reports:

Low interest rates, stable loan demand and hyper competition characterized the banking climate in the state and nation, with net income for all U.S. banks up 1.46% in the second quarter of 2016.

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