The Top 10 Business Stories of 2010

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 27, 2010 12:00 am  

More significantly for Little Rock, O'Mara is also now CEO of a wireless service with a familiar name: Alltel.

In April, Atlantic Tele-Network Inc. of Massachusetts announced it purchased $223 million worth of former Alltel assets from Verizon Wireless. ATN also secured a license to use the Alltel name and trademarks. The new Alltel is based in Little Rock, but it provides wireless service to nearly 900,000 subscribers in parts of Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois, Ohio and Idaho.

Also in April, former Alltel CEO Scott Ford's Westrock Coffee made a $5 million investment in a 56,000-SF production facility in North Little Rock that will employ 25 people.

In June, former Alltel execs Randy Wilbourn and David Martin announced their new marketing and PR firm Martin-Wilbourn Partners LLC. Martin served as CEO of Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods starting in 2006 and left the company in May, along with Andy Moreau, also formerly of Alltel, and several others.

Also in June, ex-Alltel exec Phil Brandon opened Rock Town Distillery, which produces bourbon, gin and vodka at its 15,000-SF downtown facility.

In September, the Circumference Group, which was started by former Alltel COO Jeff Fox and employs several veterans of the Little Rock telecom, hired John S. Haley as its president. Haley served two stints with Alltel.

Speaking of Jeff Fox, in February, he was appointed president and CEO of Convergys of Cincinnati. His initial contract was for one year, but in November, that was extended through Jan. 31, 2013.

9. Bureaucratic Bumbling
In the realm of public money and politics, 2010 could easily go down in the Arkansas almanac as the Year of the Double B: Bureaucratic Bumbling.

Mark Wilcox, outgoing state land commissioner and would-be secretary of state, became the poster boy for Double B antics. Wilcox was busted out for his extended junket to Alaska and more. His perks on the state's dime included having not one but two state-owned vehicles.

Scrutiny of the state's fleet of 8,653 vehicles prompted many an elected official to reach for the checkbook to pay taxes on the benefits derived from personal use. No state agency had more vehicles per staffer than the Game & Fish Commission: 658 vehicles to 613 employees. For an added layer of bumbling, the agency attempted briefly to draw up its own version of freedom of information.

The stated reason? The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act is a detriment for endangered species.

The operational side of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery has drawn raves from a startup-results perspective. The administrative side? Not so much.



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