Business Briefs for March 11, 2002

by Arkansas Business staff  on Monday, Mar. 11, 2002 12:00 am  

• The Arkansas Small Business Development Center has been awarded $40,000 by the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Technology to help Arkansas firms seeking research and development money through the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. Call (501) 324-9043 for more information.

• Jobs 4 Arkansas, sponsored by the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce; KARK-TV, Channel 4; and, is scheduled for March 20 at Alltel Arena. The 8 a.m.-7 p.m. event is an opportunity for employers to meet potential employees. Call (501) 372-5959 for more information.

• The U.S. Supreme Court suspended former Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker from practicing law before the high court, a routine step after his conviction on Whitewater charges. The court gave Tucker 40 days to say why he should not be permanently disbarred. Suspension or disbarment at the Supreme Court typically follows discipline in state courts.

• Simmons First National Corp. declared a regular 23 cents a share quarterly cash dividend payable April 1 to shareholders of record March 15. That's 2 cents a share more than the dividend paid for the same period in 2001.

• ThermoEnergy Corp.'s Sludge-To-Oil Reactor System renewable energy process was showcased on CNBC's Squawk Box program last week. The EPA-sponsored project demonstrated the capability of STORS to convert sewage sludge to a high-energy biofuel that can be used to produce electricity for use on site or exported to the local community.

• Paula Jones of Cabot, one of former President Bill Clinton's accusers, will be disgraced ice skater Tonya Harding's "Celebrity Boxing" opponent on a Fox Broadcasting Co. special program. It will air March 13.

• Asda, owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Britain's third-largest supermarket group, will lobby the country to allow more competition in the pharmacy industry, potentially saving consumers $600 million a year. Asda said it would present research to the Office of Fair Trading, which currently is investigating whether to loosen the regulation of new pharmacy licenses.

• Weyerhauser Co. is selling $5.5 billion of debt to help it buy smaller rival Willamette Industries Inc. Weyerhaeuser announced its $6.2 billion all-cash purchase of Willamette on Jan. 21 and plans to use the bond sale proceeds to pay off bank debt for the purchase. The securities will be sold in the private placement market and currently are rated Baa2 by Moody's Investors Service and BBB by Standard & Poor's and have a stable rating outlook. J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley are arranging the sale for the company.

• Heifer International, the world hunger organization based in Little Rock, and the 1.2 million-member African Methodist Episcopal Church of the U.S. are partnering to send aid to ease hunger and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. St. Andrew AME of Little Rock, with only 30 families, raised $5,400 that will buy cows, goats and other animals for Africa.

• The Arkansas Foodbank Network, the Little Rock organization that gets food to more than 40,000 Arkansas families each month, is seeking more companies to donate food products. It says the recession and layoffs have meant a 10 percent increase in demand over supply in recent months.



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