Arkansas Economy

Steve Copley Minimum Wage Give Arkansas A Raise Now

A measure to raise the state’s minimum wage will be on the November ballot, according to an announcement from the secretary of state’s office Wednesday. The measure, if passed by voters, would incrementally raise the state’s minimum wage of $6.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour by 2017.

Steve Copley chairs the group that put the issue on the ballot. He said now that the measure is on the ballot it’s time for Give Arkansas A Raise Now to regroup for the general election. 

After lower-than-expected revenue numbers for the first month of the fiscal year, the state of Arkansas’s tax collections have picked up steam with the release of the latest monthly revenue report. The Department of Finance and Administration says that in August, the state collected $457 million dollars in gross general revenue and about $398.3 million in net available revenue. Both numbers come in above last year’s amounts and above this year’s forecast.

Dassault Falcon Jet

Dassalt Falcon Jet held a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday for a $60 million dollar expansion and improvement of its business jet competition facility near Little Rock's Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.

Andrew Ponzoni, communications manager at Dassault Falcon Jet said his company considered investing in other cities but decided on Little Rock because of the company's history in the city.

The U.S. Small Business Administration says the deadline is nearing for small, nonfarm business in 16 Arkansas counties and neighboring parishes and counties in Louisiana and Mississippi affected by drought to apply for disaster loans.

The deadline is Sept. 15 to apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan. The loans are available to small, nonfarm businesses that are dependent on farmers and ranchers who suffered losses due to the drought that began Oct. 1, 2013.

Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

A slate of national Republican figures continues to campaign this week on behalf of Arkansas GOP candidates. Speaking in Little Rock Wednesday recently promoted House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) lent support to 2nd Congressional nominee French Hill amid a field of pipe sitting idle, awaiting a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.  

Unemployment Rate For Arkansas and US Since 2008

Unemployment numbers released Monday show July as another month with an improving jobless rate in Arkansas dropping one-tenth of a percent to the national average of 6.2 percent.

Michael Pakko, the senior economist at UALR’s Institute for Economic Advancement, said the report shows both good and troubling news.

Steve Copley Minimum Wage Give Arkansas A Raise Now

Signature gatherers with the non-profit coalition Give Arkansas a Raise Now say they believe they have plenty of valid signatures to get their measure on the ballot this fall. The group seeks to raise the state minimum wage from $6.25 to $8.50 an hour by 2017.

Last month, the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office gave the group 30 days to collect 15,107 additional valid signatures to reach the requisite 62,507 by next Monday, August 18th. Steve Copley, chairman of the organization, says they’ve since collected nearly 60,000 additional signatures thus far.

State economic development officials say a newly formed company will open a poultry plant in south Arkansas, creating 100 jobs.

The Arkansas Department of Economic Development says Blue Rooster is finalizing plans to open a poultry deboning operation in Warren. The facility was formerly home to H&L Poultry and work is now underway to get the plant ready for production in October.

Officials say people interested in working at the plant can pick up an application at the Old Warren National Guard Armory beginning Monday.

A study by a tourism research company shows visitors to Hot Springs spent more than $520 million last year.

The Sentinel-Record reports senior vice president Michael Erdman of Longwoods International presented the company's report Monday at the Hot Springs Convention Center. About 4.9 million trips were taken to Hot Springs in 2013. That includes 2 million overnight trips and 2.9 million day trips.

Erdman says overnight visitors spent money in lodging and food, while daytime tourists use money for shopping.

Hearing On Big River Steel In State Senate Chamber 2013
Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

Nucor Steel has filed a lawsuit in federal court that attempts to block a competitor from opening a mill in Mississippi County.

Nucor sued Big River Steel on Monday in Jonesboro. Big River is planning a $1.3 billion steel mill south of Osceola that would employ more than 500 workers.

Nucor accuses Big River of violating the federal Clean Air Act in the lawsuit. Nucor operates two steel mills outside of Blytheville and says pollutants from the Big River mill would negatively affect its workers productivity.