Arkansas is set to provide a new steel company with $125 million in financing and tax breaks to build a mill in the northeast part of the state now that the Legislature has given final approval to the plan.
Health Management Associates (HMA) will operate a regional service center in Fort Smith that will employ more than 500 with average annual salaries potentially exceeding $40,000. It's just what the doctor ordered for a regional economy that has seen better days.
An Arkansas House Committee passed a proposal Wednesday to offer $125 million to a steel company to locate in the state.
The House Agriculture and Economic Development Commission advanced on a voice vote a bill that would give the state the authority to use state money for economic development to provide infrastructure, training and tax credits for Big River Steel, which would be located in Osceola.
State Economic Development Director Grant Tennille told lawmakers the plan isn’t without risk, but whether it fails or not, would be an economic benefit to the state.
Arkansas revenues in March of this year dropped below last year’s figures. However, individual income tax refunds were up last month at $10.1 million and that’s $5.4 million above forecast.
John Shelnutt, an economist with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, says income tax refunds are finally catching up after being low in January and February. He says figures aren’t where they were in 2012, but that should even out in April.
Many women in Arkansas and across the country still do not receive equal pay for equal work. In some instances, the gender pay gap is even noticeable when men and women do the same job at the same company.
National Equal Pay Day is April 9th and organizers say it’s an opportunity to raise awareness about the wage disparities that still persist in the nation.
A monthly economic survey index for Arkansas and eight other Midwest and Plains states jumped last month, suggesting improving economic growth for the region over the next three to six months.
The Mid-America Business Conditions index hit 58.2 in March, compared with 53.1 in February and 53.2 in January. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he credits the index jump to "the strongest new-orders growth in two years."
Officials with the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services reported Friday that the unemployment rate in the state remained unchanged during the month of February.
Agency Spokeswoman Kimberly Friedman says labor statistics show unemployment held steady at 7.2 percent , while the national jobless rate dropped from 7.9 percent in January to 7.7 percent in February.