The Top 10 Business Stories of 2008

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 22, 2008 12:00 am  

John Glasgow, CFO of CDI Contractors, disappeared on Jan. 28. Dillard's owned a half-interest in CDI and was embroiled in a bookkeeping dispute with CDI management when Glasgow, of Little Rock, vanished.

LRPD closed the case in October with no idea of Johnson's motive. What was at first a tantalizing clue – the Gwatney name and a phone number written on a slip of paper at Johnson's home – turned out to be a dead end. The number was for a Gwatney towing service that had long been closed.

Just over two months after Gwatney's murder, another high-profile slaying shook Little Rock.

Patricia Cannady found her daughter Anne Pressly, news anchor for KATV, Channel 7, and a bit player in the recent theatrical release "W.," beaten and unconscious at Pressly's Heights home on the morning of Oct. 20. Pressly, 26, never regained consciousness and died five days later, but the case remained in the national news until Curtis Lavelle Vance, 28, of Marianna was charged with capital murder five weeks later.

Only then did Pressly's parents confirm that their daughter had also been sexually assaulted.

9.) Housing Dominoes
The domino effect of a national housing slump produced unwelcome news for hundreds of Arkansas workers during 2008. Cuts and plant closings dotted the state as companies tried to bring financial order to their operations.

Potlatch Corp. of Spokane, Wash., closed its Prescott sawmill and put 182 employees out of work. Rheem Air Conditioning Products laid off 185 workers at its Fort Smith plant, nearly 15 percent of its work force there.

Nuvell Financial Services slated about 165 jobs for cutting at its west Little Rock office, according to its parent company, GMAC Financial Services.

Black & Decker Corp., of Towson, Md., is closing its Decatur plant and laying off all 82 employees as part of a companywide cutback that will eliminate 3 percent of its work force.

Whirlpool Corp. announced the layoffs of 700 workers at its Fort Smith refrigeration plant. Riverside Furniture Corp. announced a layoff of 250 workers at its plants in Fort Smith and Russellville.

North American Pipe Corp. announced the closing of its Van Buren PVC pipe plant, a move destined to lay off 62. Trane Inc. announced the layoffs of 101 workers at its heating and cooling equipment plant in Fort Smith.

Despite the growing number of layoffs, the state held its own with job gains more or less offsetting losses among manufacturers – manufacturers that aren't directly dependent on the housing industry, that is.

Northwest Arkansas remained the poster child for residential overbuilding in the state. However, the market in Benton and Washington counties was a far, far cry from the war zones of overbuilt and overvalued markets around the nation.



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