Arkansas Economy

The soon-to-be-closed ConAgra Foods plant in Batesville is to be purchased by Ozark Mountain Poultry.

ConAgra announced Friday that it will close the plant in July, leaving 250 employees out of work. ConAgra spokesman Dan Hare said the chicken-making operations at the plant will be moved to improve efficiency and competitiveness.

The state’s revenue forecast looks rosier thanks to a strong month of sales tax collections in February. Monthly sales tax collections spiked 5.7% above last year and 5% above forecast to bring in $176.5 million for the month.

The increase boosted year-to-date net available general revenues to more than $3.338 billion, up $127.2 million or 4% above year ago levels. After eight months into the fiscal year, net available revenue is above forecast by $94.6 million or 2.9%.

A lawsuit seeking to stop construction of a steel mill in northeast Arkansas has been dismissed.

U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes on Wednesday dismissed the lawsuit by Nucor Steel against Big River Steel. Holmes ruled that the citizen lawsuit under the federal Clean Air Act is not authorized and that his court has no jurisdiction.

Nucor claimed Big River Steel has violated the Clean Air Act. Big River Steel countered that the mill is still under construction and not operational, so it can't be emitting anything to violate the act.

On the heels of announcing nationwide hiring of 80,000, The Home Depot says it is looking for 270 new workers in Central Arkansas.

“Winter temperatures across most of the country are not stopping the world’s largest home improvement retailer from preparing for spring – the company’s busiest selling season. The Home Depot plans to hire 270 associates in Little Rock and 80,000 nationwide,” a media release said.

Arkansas State Chamber Of Commerce Planning Workforce Push

Feb 9, 2015

The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce is preparing a major campaign to call attention to the state’s workforce needs and opportunities, Talk Business & Politics reports. Meanwhile, legislators are preparing to consider a package of workforce-related bills.

Arkansas River
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Funding for a key project to protect commercial river traffic on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System is included in President Barack Obama’s 2016 federal budget, which was delivered to Congress Monday.

With many similar projects vying for funding, officials with the Arkansas Waterways Commission are celebrating the news.

A strong January of revenue collections boosted year-to-date totals and has the Arkansas revenue picture more than $80 million ahead of forecast.

Year-to-date net available general revenues total $3.12 billion, $121 million or 4% above year ago levels. Seven months into the state’s fiscal year, net available revenue is above forecast by $80.3 million or 2.6%.

All levels of revenue collections spiked higher, said John Shelnutt, director of the Economic Analysis & Tax Research division at the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

Delta Regional Authority

The state's director of rural services has been tapped to serve as Governor Asa Hutchinson's designee and alternate to the Delta Regional Authority's board of governors. Hutchinson's office made the announcement Friday that Amy Fecher would be the designee.

Arkansas’ unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percent to 5.7% in December as the number of the employed rose and the universe of unemployed decreased.

In the separate monthly nonfarm payroll jobs report, big gains were seen in the construction, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, and education/health sectors.

The Little Rock Port Authority's board has adopted a resolution supporting the development of a sustainable port.

The resolution adopted on Wednesday directs the port's staff to work with others to implement strategies, plans, processes and practices necessary to achieve and maintain a sustainable operation at the Port of Little Rock.