Business Briefs for Sept. 27, 2004

by Arkansas Business staff  on Monday, Sep. 27, 2004 12:00 am  

• The annual Arkansas Governor's Conference on Waterborne Transportation will be held Oct. 13-15 at the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel in North Little Rock. The registration deadline is Oct. 6. Call (501) 682-1173 for more information.

• The fall University of Arkansas at Little Rock economic forecast conference will be held Nov. 10 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Little Rock. Andrew Hodge, managing director of U.S. and Canada macroeconomics at Global Insight Inc., will present the national forecast, while John Shelnutt, director of research at UALR's Institute for Economic Advancement, will give the state forecast.

• The U.S. Department of Agri-culture and the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service predict the Arkansas rice crop that is now being harvested will be a record or near-record. Some farmers are seeing 200 or more bushels per acre.

• America's Car-Mart Inc. has opened a used car lot at Russellville — the company's 33rd in Arkansas and is its third Discount Auto store. Discount Auto stores focus on vehicles with a lower price-point than regular Car-Mart lots. The opening brings the total number of Car-Mart outlets to 75.

• The U.S. Senate has approved a $10 billion military construction appropriations bill that funds $53.9 million for military installations in Arkansas. The biggest item is $33 million to replace a small helicopter repair shop built in 1961 at Camp Robinson. A new hangar will be build to accommodate the larger UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. The bill also contains $14.9 million for the Arkansas National Guard at Fort Chaffee, including $13.7 million for a new weapons storage and handling building and $6 million to construct a vehicle maintenance and aerospace complex for the 188th Fighter Wing at Fort Smith. The bill now goes to House and Senate negotiators to iron out differences.

• Timberland Bank of El Dorado has opened its first branch on the city's west side. Sharon Jones has been named branch manager. The new branch, designed by Connelly Abbott Dunn & Monroe of El Dorado and built by McKinnon & Ball Construc-tion Co., a local contractor, is 5,000 SF and has four drive-through lanes, an ATM and an after-hours depository. Inside, it has three teller stations and three private offices. Chartered in 2000, Timberland now exceeds $120 million in assets.

• Southern Financial Partners, a nonprofit affiliate of Southern Develop-ment Bancorporation of Arkadelphia, has given the Arkansas Small Business Development Center at Henderson State University a $10,000 grant to provide NxLeveL Business Training to local entrepreneurs.

• A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating of A- (excellent) of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, USAble Corp., HMO Partners Inc. and USAble Life. The rating outlook of each company is stable.

• The Metro Little Rock Alliance will hold the first of what will be annual meetings on Oct. 18 at The Peabody Little Rock. Entergy Arkansas' Hugh McDonald will review the first year of operation and give a preview of future plans. Angelou Economics will provide the results of the in-depth study of the business climate of our region.

• Central Arkansas Hospital at Searcy has named John Everett as chief financial officer. He came to CAH from Alice Regional Hospital in Alice, Texas. Shelley Tobey has been named chief nursing officer. She comes from North Central Medical Center at McKinney, Texas.

• Alltel Corp. will begin leasing space on more than 1,000 of its wireless towers nationwide to other wireless carriers. It will use two firms to lease tower space: Faulk & Foster Real Estate of Monroe, La., for Alltel's midwest and northern markets and KGI Wireless of Austin, Texas, for Alltel's southeast and southwest markets.

• Murphy Oil Corp. said production at its Medusa oil field off the coast of Mississippi would be down for as long as five weeks while it makes repairs to damage after Hurricane Ivan.

• The Saline County Airport at Benton is set to receive $1 million in federal aid through the Transportation, Treasury, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act for fiscal 2005 that passed the U.S. House. The funding, which must still pass the U.S. Senate, will be used to purchase and install an instrument landing system. The project, expected to be completed next fall, has received $15.2 million in federal funds so far. The airport will have a 5,000-foot runway and full parallel taxiway, apron, tie-down space for 30 aircraft, fueling facilities and a 4,000-SF terminal.



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