Arkansas Economy

Arkansas Jobless Rate Loses Ground As National Picture Improves

May 27, 2015

Arkansas’ seasonally adjusted jobless rate rose one-tenth of a percentage point as the U.S. unemployment rate fell in April as more than 223,000 jobs were added to the nation’s fast-growing labor pool, according to the monthly labor force data compiled and produced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Quapaw Tribe Chairman John Berrey at the Arkansas State Capitol.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The leader of the Quapaw Tribe visited with Arkansas’s legislative black caucus Tuesday and maintained the right of the Indian Nation to seek federal trust status for 160 acres of land near downtown Little Rock. The designation would allow the land – which sits in the middle of long-term growth plans for Little Rock’s port – to be exempt from local and state control.

Wikimedia Commons

The two-day Delta conference on economic equality for working families begins Tuesday in Little Rock.

The Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus, an advocacy group promoting economic development in the impoverished region will host the conference. Topics being discussed will include women and children in poverty and race relations, but the overall focus is economic equality. 

As part of the review process under Amendment 82, the state’s superproject amendment, lawmakers have received an independent consultant’s analysis of the proposed $87 million Lockheed Martin  Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) bond issue that will be at the center of debate in next week’s special session.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson made the official call for legislators to meet in special session beginning Tuesday, May 26 to vote on helping lure the military’s new JLTV production facility to Camden. The new military vehicle will replace the long-running Humvee vehicle.

Hytrol Conveyor Co. in Jonesboro has announced plans for a $12 million expansion that will include at least 36 new jobs.

The company said in a news release Thursday that the project includes a 62,000-square-foot expansion of its manufacturing facility, a new paint system, lasers, brake presses and computerized numerical control equipment.

Hytrol designs and manufactures advanced conveyor systems and currently has about 800 employees.

South Arkansas Wood Pellet Mills Still On Schedule For 2016 Start

May 13, 2015

Two full-scale biomass plants in South Arkansas are still scheduled to come online by the end of 2016, just in time for the wood pellet market to gain steam in Europe as industrial power generators switch from coal to renewable fuels.

Top officials for both Highland Pellets LLC in Pine Bluff and Zilkha Biomass Energy in Monticello told Talk Business & Politics that their respective companies are moving forward with land acquisition, environmental permitting and other preparations for Arkansas’ first high-profile entries into the burgeoning renewable energy sector.

Arkansans Feeling More Confident About Economy

May 12, 2015

Consumer confidence across the state has jumped more than ten points since October as Arkansans are increasingly optimistic about their overall economic situation, according to the latest Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey released Tuesday.

The current spring edition of the consumer sentiment index for Arkansas is 79.1, up from 68.1 in October and 67.4 in June 2014’s inaugural survey. The survey also includes consumers in Oklahoma and Missouri, including Greater Kansas City.

Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he's calling lawmakers back to the Capitol later this month to consider incentives aimed at luring a defense contract to the state.

Hutchinson on Monday announced he was calling a special session starting May 26 to consider the incentive package intended to help Lockheed Martin at its Camden facility.

Special Session Being Considered On Superproject, Presidential Primary

May 10, 2015
Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR

Legislative leaders are asking members about their availability for a May 26-28 special session, the day after the Memorial Day holiday.

The special session would center on a potential economic development superproject involving Lockheed Martin in Camden, Arkansas. The aerospace and defense contractor is in the running for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) being developed by the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps as a successor to the popular Humvee vehicle, which has been in service since 1985.

Arkansas officials have revised upward the state's general revenue forecast for the current fiscal year by 2.1 percent from a forecast in November.