Arkansas Economy

Carrie Ford Arkansas Venture Center
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A new study from the Kauffman Foundation centered on women entrepreneurship concluded that more female business owners could have the same economic impact today that the entry of women in the 20th century labor force had generations ago.

Before Wednesday’s presidential announcement opening up relations with Cuba, the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce was planning a networking trip to the communist island nation. Now, the excursion may take on a world of new meaning.

The state chamber, in partnership with Chamber Explorations, is offering members the chance to travel to Cuba from June 2-8, 2015.

Arkansas’ jobless rate fell three-tenths of a percent in November to 5.8%. In October, the rate stood at 6.1% and one year ago Arkansas’ unemployment benchmark was at 7.5%. The U.S. jobless rate remained unchanged in November at 5.8%, according to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services.

University of Arkansas at Little Rock economist Michael Pakko said the report continued an unambiguously encouraging trend.

A national provider of electrical, data, communications and automation systems says it's expanding its facility in Lowell.

Wachter Inc. said Tuesday it plans to invest $2 million in the expansion and add 20 new jobs, bringing total employment at the facility to 260. The expansion of the Lowell facility is necessary due to Wachter's continued growth, both locally and nationally, over the years.

fast food protest salary
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Employees of several central Arkansas fast food restaurants took part in demonstrations Thursday calling for higher wages. 

About 60 people chanted slogans and held signs saying “Show Me $15 and a Union,” outside a Little Rock McDonald's. Similar protests, all organized by the group Fight for 15, took place in over 150 U.S. cities. The group also organized demonstrations here in September.

Bill Clinton
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Former President Bill Clinton covered a range of topics Thursday at the 149th annual meeting of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce from the localized economic boon of his Presidential Library to unrest caused by a slew of high profile police stops resulting in the deaths of unarmed black people. Clinton also touched on the much different frustrations of rural white Americans.

Arkansas finance officials say a rise in sales and income tax collections last month pushed the state's revenue above last year's figures and expectations.

The Department of Finance and Administration on Tuesday said the state's net available revenue in November totaled $391.1 million, which was $41.4 million above the same month last year and $24.8 million above forecast.

The state's revenue for the fiscal year that began July 1 totaled $2.1 billion, which is $24.8 million above forecast.

Big River Steel
Johnathan Reaves / KASU News

A challenge to a $1.3 billion steel mill in Mississippi County could face additional hurdles if a suit against the superproject goes forward, attorneys for Big River Steel said in court papers late last week.

Arkansas’s unemployment rate dropped to its lowest point in nearly six years sitting at six percent in October, according to a report released Friday by the Department of Workforce Services. At this point last year the unemployment rate was 7.6 percent.

Michael Pakko, an economist with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, said the latest report is another encouraging sign of growth.

The Delta Regional Authority will invest $1.3 million into eight projects across Arkansas – grant money aimed at boosting economic development in rural parts of the state. Leaders said the money will help create or retain 1,050 jobs.

The eight projects and funding include: