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Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale on Friday named George Chappelle chief integration officer.

Chappelle is chief operating officer of AdvancePierre Foods Holdings Inc. of Cincinnati, which Tyson bought for $4.2 billion earlier this month. 

He will report directly to Tyson Foods President and CEO Tom Hayes and be a member of the company's Enterprise Leadership Team. Chappelle will manage the Integration Management Office and will lead all aspects of the integration of AdvancePierre. He will also continue to lead operations for AdvancePierre.

"George's experience and leadership will be valuable as we bring these two companies together and work to generate cost synergy benefits of $200 million within three years," Hayes said in a news release. "An effective integration is an extremely important part of our strategic focus on sustainably feeding the world with the fastest growing portfolio of protein packed brands."

Chappelle joined AdvancePierre as senior vice president of supply chain in 2014 and became chief operating officer in 2016. He has previously served in operations and information technology leadership roles at Solo Cup, Sara Lee Foods, Heinz and the Gillette Company.  

Chappelle has a master's of science degree in applied management from Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a bachelor's of science degree in information technology from Westfield State College in Westfield, Massachusetts.

Husqvarna Group, the global power equipment manufacturer with three facilities around Nashville, Arkansas, has announced plans to build a solar power installation at its injection molding plant in Howard County.

Today's Power Inc., the Arkansas Electric Cooperatives subsidiary that specializes in building solar generation plants, is expected to install the 1.3-megawatt array, although Husqvarna's news release on the subject did not include that detail. A Today's Power spokesman who distributed the release said the company was not authorized to provide any more information at this time. 

Husqvarna described the array as the first solar energy project of its kind in the outdoor power tool industry, and the company expects the facility to reduce coal-based carbon dioxide emissions by about 2,100 tons in the first year of operation, and 52,000 tons over 25 years. Construction will begin in the third quarter of 2017 and the power plant is expected to be in operation by the end of the year.

"Earlier this year, Husqvarna Group became the world's first forest and garden company to have our greenhouse gas emission reduction targets approved by an independent initiative," said Jim Moore the vice president and general manager of sourcing, operations and supply chain for the company's consumer brands division. "Now we will become the first company in our industry to build a solar power generating facility. It is important to demonstrate that we are serious and committed to contributing to a low-carbon future."

Today's Power, which dedicated a 1-megawatt community array for Ouachita Electric Cooperative this week in Holly Springs (Calhoun County), has been working to add projects beyond its initial client roster of rural electric cooperatives. The Husqvarna project is expected to be the first of several such collaborations.

Husqvarna, which builds lawnmowers, chainsaws, trimmers, blowers and many other outdoor tools, has 13,000 employees in 40 countries and is based in Stockholm. The company, which has a U.S. operations center in Charlotte, North Carolina, has committed to reducing its carbon emissions by a third before 2035.

Storm clouds from Tropical Storm Cindy swirled overhead, but south Arkansas energy officials were all sunshine on Thursday as solar power dominated Ouachita Electric Cooperative's annual meeting.

The power co-op and its neighbor in Camden, Southern Arkansas University Tech, "flipped the switch" on a 1-megawatt solar array in Holly Springs, the first community project of its kind in south Arkansas. (A much larger 12-megawatt solar field in East Camden provides power distributed by Ouachita Electric, but that energy is largely devoted to Aerojet Rocketdyne, the defense contractor with a plant in Highland Industrial Park.)

"Community solar is an opportunity for many of our members to have renewable energy that would not be possible at their individual home locations," said Mark Cayce, general manager and CEO of Ouachita Electric. "Participating in a community solar project… eliminates the problem of mounting a system on your roof and maintaining it for the next 25 years."

The Holly Springs facility will produce enough electricity to power about 250 homes a year, officials said. The system "will serve as a community solar option for members of OECC, and is the first community solar field in the southern region of Arkansas," according to a Today's Power Inc. news release.

Ouachita Electric, which goes by OECC and serves nearly 9,500 homes and businesses, also signed a solar power service agreement this week with South Arkansas Telephone Company and Today's Power, which installed the 3,800-panel Holly Springs array on about five acres of land.

SATCO, which provides telephone service in and around Hampton (Calhoun County), is building a 120-kilowatt array to power its operations. The 400-panel unit, expected to be completed this fall, is designed to reduce SATCO's operating costs. OECC, SATCO and Today's Power signed contracts formalizing the partnership at Thursday's co-op meeting.

"Our partnership with OECC has been very important in helping us become the first solar powered telephone company in Arkansas," said Mark Lundy, director of the phone company. SATCO and OECC partnered last year to form ARIS, a company devoted to making fast fiber-optic broadband services available to all of OECC's members. 

Chris Burnley, director of business development for Today's Power, focused on cost advantages to solar power, something that Cayce emphasized in announcing plans for the solar array in March. "Working with both OECC and SATCO on this solar project shows the commitment of both entities to continue their efforts in offering low costs to their members and customers," Burnley said.

Cayce put it this way. "As a member-owned electric cooperative, we strive to respond to the desires of our members when it is economically feasible and cost-effective… The low after-tax installed cost of the system combined with the safety of its low-voltage design sold us on the product. We also take confidence in the fact that TPI uses proven, experienced utility construction crews."

Today's Power is a wholly owned subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc., the utility service cooperative based in Little Rock that is owned by the 17 electric distribution cooperatives in Arkansas. It has has built several solar arrays similar to the Holly Springs installation at rural electric cooperatives around the state.

"With the help of Ouachita Electric Cooperative, Today's Power will have approximately 2,250 kilowatts of solar power installed in south Arkansas," Today's Power said in a news release. That's enough solar energy to power nearly 550 homes.

In addition to the other projects, OECC has provided a 4-kilowatt solar kit designed by Today's Power to be installed by SAU-Tech students at the college's Solar Test Facility on campus. 

"Solar is an emerging industry in Arkansas," Cayce said. "Having qualified technicians to install and maintain these system is vital to the long-term success of these businesses. SAU Tech was created to provide this type of training, and multiple solar arrays nearby and now on the campus have created a unique educational opportunity."

Chancellor Jason Morrison of SAU Tech said the school is "excited to be a part of this new effort to introduce solar power in our area." He added that the opportunity to train solar technicians "is a win for SAU Tech and for our community."

WASHINGTON — Sales of new homes rebounded in May, helped by strong sales gains in the South and West.

Sales new single-family homes rose 2.9 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 610,000, the Commerce Department reported Friday. That followed a 7.9 percent drop in sales in April which was the biggest monthly decline in eight months.

Sales gains of 6.2 percent in the South and 13.3 percent in the West overcame big declines of 25.7 percent in the Midwest and 10.8 percent in the Northeast. The Midwest drop was the largest in that region in nearly three years.

The median price of a home sold last month rose to a record $345,800, up 16.8 percent from a year ago. Prices have been increasing as demand has outstripped supply, in part because of a shortage of available building lots.

The rebound in May sales had been expected following the big April drop. Sales of previously owned homes also rose last month. The National Association of Realtors reported Thursday existing home sales, a much larger market than new homes, increased 1.1 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of 5.62 million.

Economists noted that the May level of sales was the highest since March and the government also revised up activity for the past three months.

"This report, along with the larger existing home sales ... gives a much better tone" for the economy in the current quarter, Jennifer Lee, senior economist for BMO Capital Markets, said in a research note.

The strong demand for homes reflects a healthy labor market which has seen steady job gains that has sent the unemployment rate down to a 16-year low of 4.3 percent.

The number of homes for sale rose 1.5 percent in May to 268,000, which represented a 5.3 month's supply at the May sales pace, the same as April but up from a supply of 4.9 months in March.

(All contents © copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The Arkansas State Athletics Department on Thursday announced details and artist renderings of its planned north endzone expansion project at Centennial Bank Stadium.

The renderings are available at the new Red Wolves Foundation website.

Adam Haukap, the foundation's executive director, told Arkansas Business on Friday that it had not determined a cost or timeline for the project yet. But he said the expansion will be funded through private donations.

The project includes adding about 150 four-person loge boxes (about 600 seats total), individual terrace premium seats, a new weight room and training/rehabilitation area, a new team locker room, position meeting rooms, players' lounge, academic rooms and a team-theater meeting area to the football stadium. 

Haukap said the loge boxes vary in price but will cost about $4,300 for the season. That includes the four seats, tailgate-type food, non-alcoholic beverages, one 10-by-10-foot tailgate spot and a connected parking space in the Tailgate Promenade, plus access to two cash bars and private restrooms.

The Tailgate Promenade will be created from redeveloped practice fields on the south end of the stadium. Haukap said that will replace the area expected to be lost to the university's planned hotel and convention center. The practice fields will be moved north of the university's student activity center.

The planned terrace seating will be located in the east and west areas of the endzone. The seats will be individual bar-height stools that include one Red Wolves Foundation donor parking spot.

Haukap said the foundation is discussing the project with contractors but has not hired a firm yet. 

"We're seeking a gross maximum price, and we'll go from there. Once we have that price, we'll be off to the races," he said.

The architect for the project is AECOM of Los Angeles. The foundation is working with the global company's office in Kansas City, Missouri. AECOM also designed the stadium's Johnny Allison Tower. 

The foundation's new website also features a statement by A-State Director of Athletics Terry Mohajir about the project and how it will enhance his department's national brand. 

"The vision is very clear for us!" Mohajir said. "We're building an experience in order to help fund this opportunity to enhance the perception of our athletics program. This project will allow us to attract the top students in the country and provide first-class services to develop our students on and off the playing surfaces..."

The Community School of the Arts, a nonprofit arts education group in Fort Smith, announced Thursday that a tract of land had been donated to the organization.

The organization, which began operations in September, hopes to use the land to build an arts facility that would include a children's theater, music hall, space for education and an art gallery, as well as a theater for concerts and large-scale productions.

"It's a major undertaking, to say the least," Rosilee Russell, executive director, told Arkansas Business.

The 11-acre tract was donated by the Robbie Westphal family. The land sits along Riverfront Drive in downtown Fort Smith and is located near the future site of the U.S. Marshals Museum, which is scheduled to open in 2019.

"The CSA Board is excited to be located in such close proximity to the United States Marshals Museum on Fort Smith's riverfront corridor. Together, these two organizations will be a catalyst for economic development in the region," Philip H. Merry Jr., chair of the CSA board, said in a news release. "This donation is a vote of confidence and a gift to our youth. May we do well with this gift for the youth and our city and make the Robbie Westphal family very proud."

Russell did not have a formal projected cost for the facility, noting that the organization has been focusing on obtaining the land for the project.

The organization has been working out of St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church at 2701 Old Greenwood Road in Fort Smith.

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans released their long-awaited bill Thursday to dismantle much of Barack Obama's health care law, proposing to cut Medicaid for low-income Americans and erase tax boosts that Obama imposed on high-earners and medical companies to finance his expansion of coverage.

The bill would provide less-generous tax credits to help people buy insurance and let states get waivers to ignore some coverage standards that "Obamacare" requires of insurers. And it would end the tax penalties under Obama's law on people who don't buy insurance — the so-called individual mandate — and on larger companies that don't offer coverage to their employees.

The measure represents the Senate GOP's effort to achieve a top tier priority for President Donald Trump and virtually all Republican members of Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hopes to push it through his chamber next week, but solid Democratic opposition — and complaints from at least a half-dozen Republicans — have left its fate unclear.

More: Read the entire bill here, and a Senate summary of the bill is here.

"We have to act," McConnell said on the Senate floor. "Because Obamacare is a direct attack on the middle class, and American families deserve better than its failing status quo."

Democrats gathered on the Senate floor and defended Obama's 2010 overhaul. They said GOP characterizations of the law as failing are wrong and said the Republican plan would boot millions off coverage and leave others facing higher out-of-pocket costs.

"We live in the wealthiest country on earth. Surely we can do better than what the Republican health care bill promises," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Some conservative and moderate GOP senators, too, have complained about McConnell's proposal, the secrecy with which he drafted it and the speed with which he'd like to whisk it to passage. McConnell has only a thin margin of error: The bill would fail if just three of the Senate's 52 GOP senators oppose it.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., facing a tough re-election fight next year, said he had "serious concerns' about the bill's Medicaid reductions.

"If the bill is good for Nevada, I'll vote for it and if it's not, I won't," said Heller, whose state added 200,000 additional people under Obama's law.

The House approved its version of the bill last month. Though he lauded its passage in a Rose Garden ceremony, Trump last week privately called the House measure "mean" and called on senators to make their version more "generous."

At the White House on Thursday, Trump expressed hope for quick action.

"We'll hopefully get something done, and it will be something with heart and very meaningful," he said

The bill would phase out the extra money Obama's law provides to states that have expanded coverage under the federal-state Medicaid program for low-income people. The additional funds would continue through 2020, and be gradually reduced until they are entirely eliminated in 2024.

Ending Obama's expansion has been a major problem for some GOP senators. Some from states that have expanded the program have battled to prolong the phase-out, while conservative Republicans have sought to halt the funds quickly.

Beginning in 2020, the Senate measure would also limit the federal funds states get each year for Medicaid. The program currently gives states all the money needed to cover eligible recipients and procedures.

The Senate bill would also reduce subsidies now provided to help people without workplace coverage get private health insurance, said Caroline Pearson, a senior vice president of the health care consulting firm Avalare Health.

Unlike the House bill, which bases its subsidies for private insurance on age, the Senate bill uses age and income. That focuses financial assistance on people with lower incomes.

Pearson said those subsidies will be smaller than under current law. That's because they're keyed to the cost of a bare-bones plan, and because additional help now provided for deductibles and copayments would be discontinued.

Under Obama's law, "many of those people would have gotten much more generous plans," she said.

The bill would let states get waivers to ignore some coverage requirements under Obama's law, such as specific health services insurers must now cover. States could not get exemptions to Obama's prohibition against charging higher premiums for some people with pre-existing medical conditions, but the subsidies would be lower, Pearson said, making coverage less unaffordable.

Like the House bill, the Senate measure would block federal payments to Planned Parenthood. Many Republicans have long fought that organization because it provides abortions.

The Senate would also provide $50 billion over the next four years that states could use in an effort to shore up insurance markets around the country.

For the next two years, it would also provide money that insurers use to help lower out-of-pocket costs for millions of lower income people. Trump has been threatening to discontinue those payments, and some insurance companies have cited uncertainty over those funds as reasons why they are abandoning some markets and boosting premiums.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the House bill would cause 23 million people to lose coverage by 2026. The budget office's analysis of the Senate measure is expected in the next few days.

(All contents © copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters Wednesday via teleconference from Frankfurt, Germany, that European business leaders were concerned about the U.S. being less committed to global trade and he has been working to reassure them.

Hutchinson said President Donald Trump has "emphasized how we're going to be tougher with trade, how we're going to have manufacturing restored to the United States. And I think that could have sent a signal that could have been mistaken in its intent.

"The intent is that we're going to bring manufacturing back to our country. We don't want to neglect that and just hand that over to our neighbors," he said. "And some of our European friends take that as a withdrawal from the global stage. I assured them that's far from the case."

The governor called Trump's rhetoric a strong negotiating position that has already benefitted the U.S. as companies have been reshoring and keeping jobs here. Hutchinson added that his message to those European business leaders was timely and reassuring.

The governor, along with Arkansas Economic Development Commission Executive Director Mike Preston, left on the governor's sixth trade mission on Saturday. The pair plan to return this Saturday after meeting with company executives and tech leaders in Germany, France and Israel.

Hutchinson also said he emphasized that the state is leading in the growth of foreign direct investment and cited the German-owned companies that already have a presence here. 

"That's quite impressive to the European audience, and the theme, of course, is that we continue to push for global opportunities from Arkansas," he said. "And that's really reassuring to the European audience."

Hutchinson said Europe has always looked to the U.S. as the world leader in the economy, specifically trade and defense. That's why "they're very careful to the nuances of our dialogue and anything that indicates a retreat from that causes them concern," he said.

So far, Hutchinson has attended the Paris Air Show, spoken to Citigroup employees at a town-hall event in Frankfurt and met with leaders of the SMS Group, a steel supply company that works with Big River Steel in Osceola.

He also met with Lanxess Corp. CEO Matthias Zachert in Cologne, according to a news release from the company. In April, the German firm acquired Chemtura Corp., which has more than 500 employees in Arkansas.  

The acquisition made Lanxess the owner of one plant in Little Rock and three in El Dorado. The El Dorado locations make bromine-based flame retardants; the Little Rock location produces high-performance curing bladders used to manufacture tires.

During the teleconference, the governor said talk at the Paris Air Show indicates there are opportunities in defense for Arkansas as both the U.S. and its allies are expected to invest more in that sector following an increase in security threats.

"It's not just about supporting the new industries though and a message for what's happening in Arkansas," the governor said. "It's also about new opportunity."

Asked if any new projects would soon be announced, Hutchinson replied, "There's not any announcements, but we've had some very good meetings, and I think there's a lot of potential for the future. But, as you know, these things take time, they take repeat visits and sometimes a lot of nurturing, but we’re on the right track."

Video of the Governor's News Conference

WASHINGTON — Slightly more people sought US unemployment benefits last week, but the number of applications remained at a historically low level that suggests the job market is healthy.

THE NUMBERS: The Labor Department says weekly applications rose 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 241,000. The less-volatile four-week average ticked up 1,500 to 244,750.

The number of people receiving unemployment benefit checks rose 8,000 to 1.94 million. That figure has fallen by more than 9 percent in the past year.

THE TAKEAWAY: Applications are a proxy for layoffs, and they have come in below 300,000, a historically low level, for 120 weeks in a row. That's the longest such stretch since 1970. The figure echoes other recent data that suggest businesses need workers. Employers have added jobs at a steady pace this year, though somewhat slower than in 2016, and the unemployment rate is at a 16-year low of 4.3 percent.

KEY DRIVERS: Businesses are hiring despite slow growth in the first three months of the year, when the economy expanded at an annual rate of just 1.2 percent. Analysts, however, expect growth will pick up to nearly 3 percent in the April-June quarter.

With the jobless rate so low, many businesses say they are struggling to find workers for their open positions. The number of open jobs reached a record level of 6 million, according to a separate Labor Department report.

(All contents © copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

From Shark Tank to The Profit, incubators to accelerators to venture investing, the public seems to be more attuned to the risks and rewards of entrepreneurship than ever before. It’s not just a passing trend. In fact, the Kauffman Foundation estimates that 85 percent of all net new job creation comes from startup companies and small businesses.

However, the focus on driving new startups, establishing accelerators for startups, and deploying capital to invest in these startups is the short game.

One of the less acknowledged components of a thriving startup ecosystem is the focus on developing entrepreneurial talent beginning in elementary school and continuing throughout all stages of the formal education process. It is vitally important that teachers, parents and students of all ages understand that there are viable career paths to entrepreneurship, and that established companies thrive when they have a steady flow of smart, innovative talent upon which to build their companies.

This is the long game.

The Governor’s initiative on computer science has catapulted our state forward in thinking about how to proliferate the development of coding skills among young people. In addition, there are career and technical education options available in most school systems where pre-engineering, health sciences, business education and computer science, as well as other trade and industry-training programs are taking place.   

One example of a partnership that can achieve this goal was recently one of the first partnerships established by the Conductor with the Junior Achievement of Arkansas, a volunteer-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. They do this with some 500 volunteers, and they reach more than 13,000 students across Arkansas on an annual basis.  

The partnership between Junior Achievement and the Conductor focuses on creative programming that will equip K-12 students with experiences in entrepreneurship, innovative thinking, financial literacy and interpersonal skills. The objective is to catalyze multi-generational creative collisions among students, mentors and faculty.  

Junior Achievement is a great strategic partner for many organizations because of its core mission and reach. It also has a commitment to the educational and motivational impact of relevant, hands-on learning. Those programs are focused on financial literacy, soft skills for career success and entrepreneurship — all vital to the talent development mission of growing a sustainable venture ecosystem.

Economics Arkansas is another organization focused on similar, talent-development goals; however, it is more focused on economics and personal finance education. Their objectives are to assist students in gaining the essential, decision-making and money skills necessary to thriving in a free market economy. Since 1962, Economics Arkansas has been educating and training K-12 teachers in how they might best integrate the principles of economics and personal finance into the classroom.

Some might question whether entrepreneurship can really be taught. The short answer is yes! While it’s true that some people are more comfortable than others with the uncertainty and risks associated with entrepreneurship, the specific disciplines of innovation and entrepreneurship can absolutely be taught, demonstrated, mentored and otherwise fostered.  

At the end of the day, entrepreneurs are vital to the long-term health of our economy. While we know that helping adult entrepreneurs during  of their ventures is a critical path to building a sustainable venture ecosystem, that’s more of the short game — chipping and putting our way to success, one venture at a time. The long game, however, is in developing the entrepreneurial talent of our youth, from elementary through high school and college.

---

Jeff Standridge is Chief Catalyst at Conductor (www.ARConductor.org) — a public-private partnership of the University of Central Arkansas, Startup Junkie Consulting and Community Venture Foundation (CVF) that launched in November 2016 — the key strategies include one-on-one consulting with entrepreneurs, innovators and students at all stages, commercialization support, high-impact programming and a powerful mentor network. 

Next month will bring a Little Rock reunion for four longtime Arkansas broadcast journalists when Jim Pitcock, Lew Short, Carolyn Long and Larry Foley are honored by the Mid-America Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Pitcock, who started as an intern and studio cameraman 60 years ago in Fort Smith and wound up as news director at KATV, Channel 7, will be inducted into the association's Gold Circle at a dinner and awards ceremony July 22 at the Clinton Presidential Center.

Short, Pitcock's old crosstown rival as chief photographer at KARK, Channel 4, will be on hand to join the Silver Circle with Long, a former KARK and KATV anchor, and Larry Foley, a former KATV bureau chief and chair of the Lemke Department of Journalism at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Long, whose blond good looks were matched by a nose for news, rose through a broadcasting career that began in reporting in 1978 at KARK and continued through anchor jobs at the Little Rock NBC affiliate and in special projects at its crosstown rival, KATV, before she left the state capital in the 1990s.

Short was her colleague for a time at KARK, where he became chief photographer in 1975 and held the position for 30 years. His photography career was cut short by a hit he took on the sidelines of a football game, but remains at Channel 4 as a morning editor.

After his reporting days and a stint as host of "Good Morning Arkansas" on KATV, Foley joined Arkansas Educational Television Network in 1984 and rose to become deputy director. After joining UA as a professor, he founded the campus television station UATV. 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday announced the following appointments:

Lori Griffin, Van Buren, to the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Appointment expires May 1, 2022. Replaces James von Gremp. 

Keven Anderson, Rogers, to the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Appointment expires May 1, 2023. Replaces Bob Crafton.

Al Brodell, Jonesboro, to the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Appointment expires May 1, 2023. Replaces Ben Pickard.

Randy Sims, Conway, to the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Appointment expires May 1, 2022. Replaces Florine Milligan. 

John Shepherd, El Dorado, to the Commission on Uniform State Laws. Appointment expires April 30, 2021. Replaces Carolyn Witherspoon. 

Jerald McKinney II, Benton, to the Commission on Uniform State Laws. Appointment expires April 30, 2021. Replaces Elisa White. 

David Nixon, Fayetteville, to the Commission on Uniform State Laws. Appointment expires April 30, 2021. Replaces Lynn Foster.

Joseph Roberts, Benton, to the Arkansas Sentencing Commission. Appointment expires May 15, 2022. Replaces Alvin Bradley.

Holly Meyer, Heber Springs, to the Arkansas Sentencing Commission. Appointment expires May 15, 2022. Replaces Henry Boyce.

Rep. Sonia Eubanks Barker, Smackover, to the Southern Regional Education Board Legislative Advisory Council. Serves at the will of the governor.

Rep. Grant Hodges, Rogers, to the Southern Regional Education Board Legislative Advisory Council. Serves at the will of the governor.

Rep. Mark Lowery, Maumelle, to the Southern Regional Education Board Legislative Advisory Council. Serves at the will of the governor.

Judge Shannon Blatt, Fort Smith, to the Arkansas Sentencing Commission. Appointment expires May 15, 2019. Replaces Judge Berlin Jones. 

Dr. Jason Richey, Paris, to the Health Services Permit Commission. Appointment expires April 9, 2021. Replaces Dr. Kimberly Curseen.

David Deaton, Fairfield Bay, to the Health Services Permit Commission. Appointment expires April 9, 2021. Replaces Johnny Hodges.

Eugenia Brown, Mountain View, to the Advisory Council of the Arkansas Arts Council. Appointment expires June 30, 2021. Reappointment.

Remica Gray, Texarkana, to the Advisory Council of the Arkansas Arts Council. Appointment expires June 30, 2020. Reappointment. 

Bruce Alford, Lewisville, to the Red River Levee District No. 1. Appointment expires May 10, 2023. Reappointment.

Dewey McDonald Jr., Lewisville, to the Red River Levee District No. 1. Appointment expires May 10, 2023. Replaces William Goza.

Jammy Turner, Gillett, to the State Plant Board. Appointment expires March 17, 2019. Reappointment.

Kyle Baltz, Pocahontas, to the State Plant Board. Appointment expires March 17, 2019. Reappointment. 

Michael Lejong, Greenwood, to the State Board of Architects, Landscape Architects and Interior Designers. Appointment expires April 26, 2022. Replaces David French. 

James Mardis III, Rogers, to the Arkansas-Oklahoma Arkansas River Compact Commission. Appointment expires February 1, 2018. Replaces Michael Carter. 

Mark Pearson, Little Rock, to the Baby Sharon’s Children’s Catastrophic Illness Grant Program Committee. Appointment expires May 1, 2021. Reappointment. 

Julie Mullenix, Hot Springs, to the Capitol Zoning District Commission. Appointment expires May 1, 2019. Replaces Darrell Brown. 

Vickie Strickland, Jonesboro, to the Old State House Commission. Appointment expires March 19, 2026. Replaces Mary Abramson. 

Connie Timmons, Hamburg, as a Justice of the Peace for the Ashley County Quorum Court, District 5. Appointment expires Dec. 31, 2018. Replaces Robert Barnes.

Sherrie Sanders, Ozark, as a Justice of the Peace for the Franklin County Quorum Court, District 5. Appointment expires Dec. 31, 2018. Replaces Chad Haberer.

Lonnie Taff, Waldron, as a Justice of the Peace for the Scott County Quorum Court, District 7. Appointment expires Dec. 31, 2018. Replaces William Lutrell.

Donald Ragland, Marshall, as a Special County Judge in the County Court of Carroll County, Arkansas. Carroll County Court Case Number 2016-02 "Michael and Robin Phillips, et al. vs. Ryan Wilson." Replaces Carroll County Judge Sam Barr, who has disqualified himself from the case. 

Judge Doug Erwin, Lonoke, as a Special County Judge in the County Court of Boone County, Arkansas. Boone County Court Case Number 05CC-2016-5 "North Arkansas Medical Services, Inc. v. Karen Hardesty, in her official capacity as Boone County Assessor." Replaces Boone County Judge Robert Hathaway, who has disqualified himself from the case. 

Robert Veach, Russellville, as a Special Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Arkansas. CV-17-103 "Air Evac EMS, Inc. v. USABLE Mutual Insurance Co. d/b/a Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield." Replaces Chief Justice John Dan Kemp, who has disqualified himself from the case. 

LOS ANGELES - Major U.S. corporations such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and General Motors Co. have become some of America’s biggest buyers of renewable energy, driving growth in an industry seen as key to helping the United States cut carbon emissions.

Last year nearly 40 percent of U.S. wind contracts were signed by corporate power users, along with university and military customers. That's up from just 5 percent in 2013, according to the American Wind Energy Association trade group.

These users also accounted for an unprecedented 10 percent of the market for large-scale solar projects in 2016, figures from research firm GTM Research show. Just two years earlier there were none.

The big reason: lower energy bills.

More: Big companies are powering the U.S. clean energy push.

Costs for solar and wind are plunging thanks to technological advances and increased global production of panels and turbines. Coupled with tax breaks and other incentives, big energy users such as GM are finding renewables to be competitive with, and often cheaper than, conventional sources of electricity.

The automaker has struck deals with two Texas wind farms that will soon provide enough energy to power over a dozen GM facilities, including the U.S. sport utility vehicle assembly plant in Arlington, Texas that produces the Chevrolet Tahoe, Cadillac Escalade and GMC Yukon.

The company is already saving $5 million a year worldwide, according to Rob Threlkeld, GM's global manager of renewable energy, and has committed to obtaining 100% of its power from clean sources by 2050.

"It's been primarily all driven off economics," Threlkeld said. "Wind and solar costs are coming down so fast that it made it feasible."

More: The corporate green-energy rush.

Growing corporate demand for green energy comes as President Donald Trump is championing fossil fuels and targeting environmental regulations as job killers. This month he announced the United States will withdraw from the landmark Paris Agreement to fight climate change, a move that was condemned by several prominent U.S. executives, including General Electric Co. Chief Executive Jeff Immelt.

Trump’s administration, however, has made no moves to target federal tax incentives for renewable energy projects, thanks mainly to bipartisan support in Congress. Many Republican lawmakers hail from states that are major solar or wind energy producers, among them Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa.

U.S. companies, meanwhile, are pursuing their own clean-energy agendas independent of Washington politics. Over the past four years, corporations have contracted for about 7 gigawatts of renewable energy – enough to power more than 1 million homes. That number is expected to rise to 60 GW by 2025, according to the Edison Foundation Institute for Electric Innovation, a utility-backed non-profit based in Washington D.C.

Growth in renewables for years was driven by utilities laboring to meet tough state mandates to reduce carbon emissions, particularly in places such as California. Early corporate adopters included Alphabet Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., leading-edge companies with progressive company cultures, deep pockets and major power needs.

Now mainstream industries are stepping in as costs have plummeted. Wind-power costs have dropped 66% since 2009, according to the American Wind Energy Association, while the cost to install solar has declined 70% since 2010, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association trade group.

This year alone, home improvement retailer Home Depot Inc., wireless provider T-Mobile US Inc., banker Goldman Sachs and food producer General Mills announced major purchases of renewable energy.

POWER TO THE PPA

Such deals can take many forms, but most are so-called power purchase agreements. Known as PPAs, these are roughly 10-to-20-year contracts in which the owner of a large solar or wind project sells electricity to large customers, often at rates lower than those charged by utilities. These agreements allow energy users to buy renewables at attractive prices with no upfront investment.

These agreements also help companies avoid outages if the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow. The massive wind farms and solar plants that support these contracts often supply electricity straight to the grid rather than feed it directly to corporate customers' plants and offices. Companies get the benefit of clean energy without cutting themselves off from the security of the grid.

The arrangement also saves companies from having to do it all themselves. Mark Vanderhelm, vice president of energy for Wal-Mart, said the retailer is about half way to its goal of sourcing 50 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2025. While the chain has installed solar panels atop hundreds of stores, it has purchased much of its green energy via two PPAs.

"For us to meet our goals, we wouldn't be able to get there by doing it all on site. We just fundamentally don't have enough roof space," Vanderhelm said.

He said Wal-Mart is seeing roughly single-digit percentage savings with its green-power contracts.

Furniture retailer IKEA is a notable exception to the PPA trend, preferring to own the renewable-energy assets that serve its U.S. business, including rooftop solar systems on most of its buildings and two wind farms in Texas and Illinois. The approach is part of the Swedish company's long-term corporate strategy of owning all of its stores, factories and the land on which they're built.

Demand from big corporations has benefited a host of wind and solar developers including Pattern Energy, First Solar and NextEra Energy. BNB Renewable Energy Holdings LLC, a privately held New York-based developer, said corporations now make up about half its business.

"There is a convergence right now where price is low and their sustainability commitments are high," said Jos Nicholas, a managing partner with BNB.

The developers or owners of the projects, meanwhile, get the stability of long-term contracts plus those federal tax breaks. The solar credit is worth up to 30 percent of a project's value. For wind, the most popular tax credit is a maximum of 2.4 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced for a decade.

AMBITIOUS GOALS

Since 2014, nearly 100 large global companies have committed to transitioning to 100 percent renewables through a partnership with The Climate Group, a nonprofit that's working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Roughly two corporations a month are joining that effort, according to Amy Davidsen, the organization's executive director for North America.

In addition to GM, U.S. companies that have made the commitment include Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble Co. and Nike Inc.

Still, many big firms remain on the sidelines because they lack an overall corporate sustainability mandate, view renewables as having unattractive returns or because the contracts are too long, according to a 2016 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey.

Many small- and medium-sized businesses have a hard time benefiting too. They don't consume enough energy to negotiate large, lowest-cost PPAs like the big guys. Smaller projects, such as installing rooftop solar panels, tend to depend heavily on state and local incentives that come and go.

The 2020 expiration of the federal tax incentives is another concern. But industry watchers expect U.S. companies will continue their ambitious public commitments to boost renewable energy use even if those breaks aren't renewed.

General Mills, for instance, sees climate change as a major threat to the agricultural supply chain behind products such as Cheerios cereal and Yoplait yogurt. The company has a goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent by 2025.

"If the front end of that business model breaks down — Mother Nature — we're in a world of hurt," Lynch said.

Acxiom Corp. of Conway said Wednesday that it has been issued five new patents for data processing and management technology designed to support the data science underlying the company's marketing services.

The company (Nasdaq: ACXM) said the patents boost its leadership in "people-based marketing" and ethical data use. Acxiom said it has a portfolio of more than 50 issued and pending patents.

"These newly issued patents demonstrate Acxiom's focus on innovation and commitment to solving the pressing data challenges that stand in the way of great customer experiences," President and CEO Scott Howe said in a news release. "These innovations bring us one step closer to realizing our vision of transforming data into value for everyone."

The patents:

  • Set forth a method and system for bringing together online and offline advertising using anonymous links that are associated with consumer data.
  • Create a method for constructing a change database that reduces the footprint of a standard longitudinal data database and increases the manageability of data for many applications.
  • Initiate a method for measuring a change between two values for one or more data elements over time and uses a "delta" value to indicate the significance of the change.
  • Provide a method and apparatus for matching equivalent words across languages using a set of rules that are built from a user-defined language specification.
  • Provide a method and apparatus to increase accuracy in individual attributes derived from anonymous aggregate data.

Email marketing, if you aren’t familiar, is exactly what it sounds like — utilizing your target audience’s inbox to reach them with useful information (be that a newsletter, offer, helpful tips, discounts, etcetera).

Chances are you have at least one example of email marketing in your inbox. In fact, if you’re a marketing person, you probably have a few marketing emails in your inbox right now that are about email marketing.

Email marketing can be utilized by virtually any company, and if your company isn’t using it, you’re probably missing some pretty valuable opportunities. It may be one of the most effective marketing tools out there right now.

The overarching benefit is the opportunity you have to build a relationship with a potential client who is receptive to your message. You reach people where they are; people who have invited you to be there. You can build loyalty and revenue with that type of audience.

Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when considering email marketing:

Get Permission

This one should go without saying, but anyone who is new to the concept should read this next sentence very carefully. Do not send emails to people who have not opted in to receive emails. Did someone give you their business card with their email address on it? That’s good networking on your part, but that is not permission to email them your newsletter. You may have a friend who would love to read about the sale you have going on, but that doesn’t mean they have given you permission to send them emails. Sending those emails won’t just be annoying to the people receiving them, it may even get you suspended or kicked off of some marketing services. Be a good marketer and always get permission.

Have A Purpose

Your email needs to have a purpose and strategy. You can educate a person, you can try to sell them something, you can even give something to them, but do not waste their time. You will find people will “unsubscribe” in droves if you send them something that doesn’t pertain to them.

Make every effort to ensure that the email is relevant to the recipient. If you are a retailer promoting a sale of women’s wear, try to make sure your email list consists mostly of women who have expressed interest in women’s clothing. That sounds pretty elementary, but it’s surprising how many companies will take a shotgun approach and send out an email to everyone they have ever come in contact with. This just leaves a sour taste with the recipient and can hurt the company’s brand as a result.

Don’t Be Annoying

We’ve all had it happen to us. We give a company we like our email address and suddenly our inbox is getting blown up with daily messages. Unless the content of those emails is extremely engaging, a daily or even weekly email to a client or potential customer is likely to end up with a lot of people on your list hitting “unsubscribe.” Think long and hard on whether or not what you are about to send out will mean something to the people on your list. If it doesn’t, don’t send it.

Can We Do Email Marketing Internally?

Sure you can, and it’s much cheaper. But that doesn’t mean your company necessarily should. There’s a lot to consider — most importantly time and, as a result, money. If you or someone in your company has the time to research all the best practices, create the emails and keep on a consistent schedule, then yes, you can absolutely do it internally. There are many services out there — ConstantContact, Mailchimp and others, that can help streamline the process. Most businesses, however, don’t have a dedicated person that has the time to do that.

The other option is to hire a marketing company to execute your email campaigns. While the act of sending emails is essentially free, what you pay for when you hire a company to do your email marketing is the time and talent it takes to create the content of the email, set up the campaign, monitor the campaign for optimization and knowing all the best practices of email marketing (so that you don’t have to).

Whether doing it internally or hiring an outside resource, most businesses out there will find they can help their bottom line with good email marketing strategies and campaigns.

 

PLUMERVILLE — Tyson Foods has installed video cameras in key areas of its poultry operations and will test new ways to slaughter birds — not in response to previous "gotcha" moments but under a corporate philosophy that notes its role as a steward for millions of chickens, the company said.

The Springdale-based meat producer last month hired its first chief sustainability officer and on Wednesday will announce a series of animal well-being initiatives. In an interview Tuesday, Justin Whitmore said that while abuses at myriad companies have been exposed through secretly recorded video, taking action now prevents having to react later.

"We want to learn from the opportunities and the challenges we face," he said, seven weeks after taking his post. "If we see something come up in our system, we'll look to have the appropriate measures in place to ensure they don't recur."

Tyson last August fired 10 workers after secretly recorded video compiled by an animal rights group showed chickens being crushed or swung by their legs and wings. Tyson terminated a contract with a farmer a year earlier after another group released video showing workers standing on birds' heads to break their necks. Over the past year, Hormel Foods has hired third-party auditors to review hog farms after video showed some animals in very tight quarters and another animal being slammed to the floor.

Lora Wright, Tyson's director of animal well-being, said Tuesday that over the past year, Tyson has installed the industry's largest third-party monitoring system — with off-site auditors reviewing operations at Tyson's 33 poultry processing plants across the U.S. and concentrating on areas where workers handle live animals. The company also has trained nearly five dozen animal well-being specialists like Stacy Barton, who grew up on a poultry farm.

"We're making sure the birds are being handled properly and treated with respect and care in every step of the process," he said Tuesday outside a 120,000-bird operation near Plumerville. The well-being officers are also trained on how cattle and hogs should be handled. Some of their visits are announced; others are not.

Additional but less-intensive monitoring among the growers who raise chickens for Tyson is in the works, said Adam Aronson, whose New York-based company Arrowsight monitors operations from a hub in Huntsville, Alabama.

"We're spot checking the workers throughout the day," Aronson said. Arrowsight reports back to Tyson regularly on whether workers are handling birds properly.

While it's a little like Big Brother, the general concept is "if you could replicate having your best front-line managers at all times," he said. "We're like the football coach looking down from the booth with a headset. That's effectively what is going on."

He said Tyson is by far the deepest into video auditing of poultry operations, after other companies pioneered it for beef, pork and turkey.

Bret Hendricks, who is responsible for the 7 million chickens that will one day be processed at Tyson's plant in Dardanelle, said the company has recognized that keeping animals content helps the bottom line.

"If they're happy, the more they're going to eat and the more they're going to grow," Hendricks said before a tour of a growing operation at Plumerville. Inside, some of the 120,000 nine-day-old birds raised here scurried underfoot; others stayed near automated feeding and watering stations. Each of the birds weighed a little less than a half-pound each. At 33 days old, they'll average about 3.65 pounds and be ready for slaughter.

The company also said it will experiment with "controlled atmosphere stunning," in which birds are suffocated by carbon dioxide rather than being stunned and having their throats slit.

"We think that there could be an opportunity to process and slaughter the birds in a more-humane way," Whitmore said. "We ... are going to test it."

The company said it will also consider adding perches for the birds.

(All contents © copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

LITTLE ROCK — An Arkansas panel recommended a 2 percent raise Tuesday for the state's elected officials and judges, despite a request from the state Supreme Court that it receive an 11 percent bump in pay.

The Independent Citizens Commission proposed the pay raise for the state's constitutional officers, legislators, prosecutors and judges, setting up a hearing to receive public comments before it votes on the proposal.

The commission was created through a 2014 constitutional amendment changing how officials' salaries are set. The salaries had previously been set in the constitution, which allowed the Legislature to make cost-of-living adjustments. The panel granted substantial pay raises to officials in 2015.

"It seems that a 2 percent inflation rate is the number we should consider," Commissioner Mitch Berry said before the vote.

Under the proposal, lawmakers' salaries would increase from $39,400 a year to $40,188, and Gov. Asa Hutchinson's salary would rise from to $141,000 to $143,820.

The proposal is far lower than the 11 percent pay raise Chief Justice Dan Kemp had sought for himself and the other six members of the state Supreme Court. Kemp's proposal had called for raising his pay from $180,000 a year to $199,800 and the other justices' pay from $166,500 a year to $184,815.

Kemp had said the raise would put the court more in line with other states, and had also cited the flurry of appeals justices handled in April over Arkansas' initial plan to execute eight inmates over an 11-day period. Arkansas put four inmates to death after the court halted three of the executions and a federal court stopped a fourth.

Kemp said he wasn't surprised by the commission's recommendation but likely will seek another adjustment next year.

"We'll have another opportunity ... next March, April, May to present information, so we'll plan on that," Kemp told reporters.

(All contents © copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Arkansas Business' "Foundations" interview series continues with Jon Harrison, owner of VIP2 of Little Rock, a consultancy that helps businesses and other organizations through leadership training programs for staff at all levels.

In this episode, Harrison talks about the capability to be a good leader, how to handle workplace conflicts, and the philosophy behind developing "values-driven, informed and passionate people" in the workplace.

The "Foundations" series aims to highlight key tools for success for businesses, nonprofits and other organizations. The first four videos of the series focus on leadership and feature interviews with Harrison, Gina Radke of Galley Support Innovations of Sherwood and Fitz Hill, director of the Scott Ford Center for Entrepreneurship & Community Development and the Arkansas Baptist College Foundation.

Full Interview

Harrison, a former plant manager for Caterpillar Inc., leverages decades of leadership experience to help companies and organizations of all sizes.

"We try to give them the tools that help them understand how to communicate with people, how to hold people accountable," he says. "For example, one thing that I wish someone would have taught me when I was a young supervisor is [how to have] difficult conversations. That's the cornerstone really of any relationship."

Harrison also talks about how personality types inform how managers relate to direct reports, how different countries have different ideas about what makes a good leader, and how managers can create a healthy workplace that has a positive effect on employees' families and communities.

Daikin Applied of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Harrison Energy Partners of Little Rock announced last week a new partnership.

Effective July 1, Harrison Energy Partners will become Daikin's regional factory sales and parts representative and a factory-authorized service alliance partner for Daikin Applied in northwest and western Arkansas as well as the bordering counties of eastern Oklahoma.

Harrison Energy Partners is the largest commercial and industrial HVAC firm in the state.

"Our mission has been and continues to be to deliver commercial HVAC excellence at a superior value so we are always our clients' first choice," CEO Bill Harrison said in a news release. "Joining forces with Daikin, with their culture of innovation and product development, positions us to do that both now and in the future."

He cited the other company's plans for growth, its innovation pipeline and its partnerships with independent representatives as factors in the deal.

"We respect their forward-looking philosophy, which includes understanding the importance of independent representation. We're well-aligned strategically," he said.

Kirk Thorne, executive vice president of sales, marketing and aftermarket for Daikin, said in the release that the partnership gives it a competitive advantage in the market. He added that the company's strategies are market-based and it "values the diverse line card developed by Harrison Energy Partners over the years. It is the strength of Daikin and Harrison Energy Partners' other valued brands and capabilities that allow us to successfully serve the overall needs of the marketplace together."

Daikin had previously partnered with Airetech Corp.

Harrison Energy Partners had partnered with Trane, which recently closed its residential heating, ventilation and air conditioning manufacturing facility in Fort Smith.

Teletech Holdings Inc. on Monday announced that it will open a new customer service center in Morrilton and create at least 350 jobs.

The center will open at 1535 E. Harding Ave. in the Riverland Shopping Center.

TeleTech already has a center in Sherwood. The Morrilton location will serve as a satellite and extension of that facility, supporting customer service for the company's health care clients.

The Conway County Economic Development Corp. in Morrilton helped attract Teletech to the city and assisted the company as it prepared to open the new center.

"Jobs create hope. Hope is the driver for change and change is what we have seen in the last two and half years," Mayor Allen Lipsmeyer said in a news release. "The city council and I have laid the groundwork for change by investing $4.5 million dollars in various areas around town. This has caused an attitude change in our great town and allowed over $200 million in quality projects to flourish. With our latest announcement of a 150- to 160-lot subdivision, things are moving in the right direction."

He also thanked Teletech and said they would be "a great corporate partner."

The company is hiring sales trainers, trainer team leads, a seasonal insurance licensing coordinator, a seasonal licenses training proctor and a director of sales operations.

Teletech said it will begin hiring customer service representatives, licensed insurance agents and agents who are interested in obtaining their insurance license within the next few weeks, and dates for local hiring events at the Sherwood location will be announced soon.

"This lays the groundwork for additional economic growth and is a testament to the strength and reputation of the local workforce." Mike Preston, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, said in a news release.

Teletech did not receive any incentives from the AEDC, but the commission helped it find a facility that suited its needs.

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