Business Briefs for January 7, 2008

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Jan. 7, 2008 12:00 am  

Central Flying Service of Little Rock has been appointed by Clifford Development of Kalamazoo, Mich., as a service center for the company's Citation II and Citation SII re-engining programs using Williams International FJ44-3A engines. Central Flying Service, which employs 250 people, performs airframe and engine maintenance and paint, interior and avionics work primarily for Citations, Hawkers and Beechcraft products.

Regions Insurance Group Inc. of Memphis, a subsidiary of Regions Financial Corp. of Birmingham, Ala., has rebranded its Rebsamen Insurance Agency as Regions Insurance. Regions bought Rebsamen, the largest agency in Arkansas, in 2001.

Metropolitan National Bank has launched its new mobile banking service, called "MetbankMobile." It can be accessed at Metropolitan will offer the service free to its Internet banking customers. The service does not require the use of any certain wireless carrier or any additional software.

Stacy Foley has been named executive director of the North Arkansas Medical Foundation at Harrison. The foundation has raised more than $2.5 million for the new patient tower at the North Arkansas Regional Medical Center. The capital campaign hopes to raise $5 million to furnish and equip the tower, which includes a 23-bed Women's Health Center with eight private birthing suites, a Critical Care Unit with 24 private beds, a 24-bed private medical/surgical floor, and an expanded Rehab Therapy and Wellness Center. The expansion will add 71 private patient rooms and 124,000 SF. The new patient tower is scheduled for completion this spring.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., was named the most admired woman in the world for the sixth straight year in a Gallup poll. The former Arkansas and U.S. first lady was picked by 18 percent of respondents, her highest standing since 2000. It was the 12th time Clinton has been named the most admired woman in the world. She has finished first or second in each of the last 15 years.

Bob Sells, a longtime public relations expert, has been named spokesman for the Death Penalty Moratorium Steering Committee formed to ask Gov. Mike Beebe to declare a moratorium on the death penalty and appoint a study commission to make an objective review of the death penalty to see if it is meeting state policy objectives. The committee expects to kick off the campaign in February.

The National Association of Realtors says existing-home sales rose slightly in November, indicating a stabilization in housing in the wake of mortgage disruptions earlier this year. Total existing-home sales - including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops - rose 0.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5 million units in November from an upwardly revised pace of 4.98 million in October, but are 20 percent below the 6.25 million-unit level in November 2006. The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $210,200 in November, down 3.3 percent from November 2006 when the median was $217,300.

More than 50 percent of U.S. households now own a digital television, according to new research released by the Consumer Electronics Association. For 2008, the association predicts nearly 32 million units of DTVs will be sold with high definition expected to account for 79 percent of total DTV shipments this year.

Hiring for the manufacturing sector will be flat and service sector hiring will decline significantly this month, according to the SHRM/Rutgers Leading Indicator of National Employment. The report also projects that those who do gain employment will earn less than new hires did last year.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the Christmas holiday-shortened week ended Dec. 28, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 533.9, a decrease of 11.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 603.8 one week earlier. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 6.05 percent from 6.10 percent.

The Institute for Supply Management said economic activity in the manufacturing sector failed to grow in December following 10 consecutive months of expansion, while the overall economy grew for the 74th consecutive month. Industries close to the housing market appear to be struggling more than others, and those involved in exports seem to be doing better.



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