Business Briefs for Jan. 23, 2006

by Arkansas Business staff  on Monday, Jan. 23, 2006 12:00 am  

• Plum Point Energy Associates LLC, a member of the LS Power Group, has signed a contract with Plum Point Power Partners, a joint venture of Zachry Construction Corp., Black & Veatch and Gilbert Central Corp, an affiliate of Kiewit Construction Co., for the engineering, procurement and construction of its 665-megawatt pulverized coal-fired power plant at Osceola. On-site construction will begin in the spring, and the project is scheduled to begin commercial operation in early 2010.

• Derrek S. Thomason has been named city president in Conway for Metropolitan National Bank. He will oversee the retail and commercial banking operations for the bank in Faulkner County. His office will be in the branch at 414 Oak St. in Conway.

• James L. Bacon has been named interim president and CEO of the Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County. He worked at the Pine Bluff Arsenal from 1960-96, serving as executive assistant to the commander from 1979-96. A professional engineer, Bacon was program manager from 1997-2002 for the nation's $25 billion chemical demilitarization program. James V. Crider resigned as president and CEO effective Dec. 31.

• Murphy Oil Corp. said it has paid more than $50 million in claims since a large oil spill at its Meraux, La., refinery caused by damage from Hurricane Katrina. The company also told a federal court at New Orleans that it has spent more than $13 million on cleaning up public property and more than $4 million cleaning up private property. Murphy is in court to argue against certification of a class-action suit, saying the spill was an act of God, not negligence.

• Tyson Foods Inc. plans to spend more than $30 million to add bacon production at its Cherokee, Iowa plant. The company will shut down its Independence and Oelwein plants in northeast Iowa, which produce chopped ham and sliced luncheon meats, effective March 17, putting nearly 400 out of work.

• Cingular Wireless, the nation's largest wireless carrier, said it invested almost $60 million in its network in Arkansas in 2005 by adding coverage and capacity via 80 new cell sites, purchasing portable generators and backup batteries, and by rolling out new data features. The cell site expansion effort has enabled the company to add new service or enhance existing service throughout the state.

• Attorney General Mike Beebe raised almost $2.4 million last year in his Democratic campaign for governor. His campaign had $1.73 million on hand at the end of the year. Beebe said all the donors lived in Arkansas and were from all 75 counties.

• America's Car-Mart Inc. of Bentonville has opened a new dealership at Van Buren. The total number of dealerships is now 84. The Van Buren dealership is the company's 35th in Arkansas and will be managed by Scott Manning, who had been assistant manager at the company's Russellville dealership.

• Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is trying to get into the retail market in India, which has the second-largest population in the world. The country might soon let foreign competitors into the sector, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal. India's prime minister and finance minister recently suggested that movement toward opening the country's retail markets would begin over the next six months. Last month, Wal-Mart applied for government approval to open its first liaison office in India, the article said.

• QualChoice of Arkansas has chosen Medai Inc. of Orlando, Fla., to provide its Risk Navigator clinical predictive modeling software to enhance QualChoice's disease management programs, enabling the Little Rock insurance company to more accurately forecast its ability to improve patients' health and quality of care while controlling cost.

• Metropolitan National Bank has opened a new branch at 804 Hogan Lane in Conway. This opening brings Metropolitan's branch total to 38 in central and northwest Arkansas. The new Conway branch features state-of-the-art media centers with plasma screen televisions, Internet stations, coin-counting machines and video game consoles for children.

• USAble Life Insurance of Little Rock, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and Edgewater Technology Inc. of Wakefield, Mass., announced a new collaborative effort that will offer employer groups and members a technologically advanced benefit administration system. The new system, anticipated to be deployed in mid-2006, will include worksite marketing, enrollment of members at their place of employment, member self-enrollment via the Internet, and multicarrier consolidated electronic billing, reconciliation and payment.



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