The Whispers Blog

Arkansas' breaking business news blog, with news and commentary from the Arkansas Business staff.
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Caterpillar to Lay Off 60 in North Little Rock

A Caterpillar motor grader.

Caterpillar Inc. confirmed Thursday that it laying off 60 people at its motor grader manufacting plant in North Little Rock.

Arkansas Business news partner THV 11 News reported Thursday that the company it notified 50 full-time Caterpillar employees and 10 agency workers of their terminations.

Penny Wu, a company spokesman, said the move comes as the motor grader manufacturer aims to "align production with demand." The layoffs will take place by Monday.

"Caterpillar understands this decision is difficult for the impacted workers and their families, but these actions are necessary to position the company for long-term success," the company said in a statement.

In April, the company lowered its 2016 sales and earnings outlook amid revenue declines that hurt quarterly profit.

The facility produces eight motor grader models. Production began at the plant in October 2010.

Video: Doug McMillon on Why Wal-Mart Chose

Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon.

Wal-Mart announced Monday that it would acquire retailer for $3 billion. According to Wal-Mart, acquiring Jet will help the company connect with urban and millennial shoppers and compete more effectively with online retail giant

Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon talked to CNBC's "Squawk Box" about the pending acquisition and what he saw in

"We're serious about e-commerce and want to serve customers in the way that they want to shop," McMillon said in the interview. "The Jet brand adds to the Wal-Mart porfolio. Around the world we operate 74 different brand names."

Watch the inteview below:


Wall Street Journal: Bank of the Ozarks Fills Loan Void in Big Markets

George Gleason

The Wall Street Journal today takes a look at Bank of the Ozarks Inc. of Little Rock, which it says is filling a loan void in big markets like New York and Houston.

The publicly traded bank, led by George Gleason, opened a loan production office in Manhattan in 2013. It established another office in Houston in 2014 after purchasing Bancshares Inc. for $23 million. It has other loan production sites in Austin, Texas, and Atlanta.

The Journal finds the company providing commercial loans in places where bigger banks have pulled back. It says the company now has $1.9 billion in loans outstanding in New York as of the first quarter, and its portfolio of loans and leases now stands at $9.7 billion.

"A lot of our competitors tend to move as a pack and are heavily driven by headline risk," said George Gleason, the bank’s chairman and chief executive, on a recent call with investors. "So what we have tried to do is ignore the headlines, to a great extent…we are finding tremendous opportunities in Manhattan, Miami, Houston [and] Dallas."

The Journal has more on what could be choppy waters ahead, as analysts weigh warning signs that the rally seen in some of those markets could be coming to end.

Video: Watch Asa Hutchinson, Leslie Rutledge Speak at the Republican National Convention

Leslie Rutledge at the Republican National Convention.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge spoke during last night's Republican National Convention in Cleveland, with both criticizing Hillary Clinton more than they praised the GOP nominee, Donald Trump.

"If you liked the last eight years," Hutchinson said, "then Hillary would give you double for your trouble."

Hutchinson criticized Clinton's role as secretary of state, noting the attacks in Benghazi and "instability in Egypt, Syria and Libya, the rise of ISIS, the resurgence of Russia, an emboldened North Korea ..." He also said that, being from Arkansas, he knows "from personal experience that we don't need Hillary Clinton in the White House."

"Donald Trump is the right leader for our time," Hutchinson said.

Asa Hutchinson's Full RNC Speech

Rutledge, in her signature twang, served up even more red meat for delegates.

"Sometimes Hillary Clinton speaks with a New York accent," Rutledge said. "Sometimes an Arkansas accent. But y'all, this is what a real Arkansas woman sounds like. Hillary may not know where she's from, but Arkansans know exactly who I am."

Rutledge, the first woman attorney general in Arkansas, said breaking glass ceilings is important, but not at the expense of the country.

Leslie Rutledge's Full RNC Speech

Video: Watch Tom Cotton's Republican National Convention Speech

Tom Cotton

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., spoke during the opening night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Cotton, 39, a former U.S. House member and combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, spoke during a night whose theme was "Make America Safe Again."

"Our warriors and their families don't ask for much. But there are a few things we'd like: A commander in chief who speaks of winning wars and not merely ending wars, calls the enemy by its name, and draws red lines carefully, but enforces them ruthlessly," Cotton said. "And politicians who treat our common defense as the chief responsibility of our federal government, not just another government program.

"This isn't much to ask for, but eight years without it is more than enough."

Tom Cotton's Full RNC Speech