The Whispers Blog
Arkansas' breaking business news blog, with news and commentary from the Arkansas Business staff.
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Everyone's new favorite scientist is headed back to New York City for another appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."
The Museum of Discovery in Little Rock announced its director of visitor experience, Kevin Delaney, will be on Nov. 7.
Just like his first appearance, the museum says Delaney will perform "Awesome Science" experiments, much like he does every day at the Museum of Discovery.
With Fallon participating as his lab assistant, Delaney became a hit with burning candy, shooting foam and smoke rings. Check out video from Delaney's first visit below.
Bentonville finds itself in the Advertising Age spotlight Tuesday.
Ad Age has a look at how Bentonville -- aka Vendorville -- and the region have been transformed by the growth of Wal-Mart and its cache of vendors on the ground in northwest Arkansas.
It even calls Bentonville "hip and urban." Anyone who's visited recently would have to agree.
Here's a sample from the piece, "City Spotlight: Walton Wealth Creates Booming Arts, Marketing Tech Hub in Bentonville":
If Sam Walton were alive, he might have trouble recognizing the hub of the empire he created.
Downtown Bentonville, home to the original Walton's 5 and 10, has been transformed in recent years thanks to the success of his business and the largess of his heirs. His original store still stands, around the corner from the Walmart vendor outpost of DreamWorks. Down the road is the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the first major art museum to open in the U.S. since 1974, thanks to more than $300 million invested by his daughter, Alice Walton. There are tony, if reasonably priced, restaurants such as Table Mesa and the Hive, the latter located at 21c Museum Hotel, a boutique hotel and art museum. Bentonville has also lured young professional residents and even, some say, hipsters.
The story quotes John Andrews of Collective Bias, Lisa Bridgers of Rockfish and Henry Ho of Innovate Arkansas firm Field Agent:
While getting people into Northwest Arkansas can be a tough sell, frequently they stay a long time. Take Henry Ho, a Chinese-American New Yorker and die-hard Yankees fan, who was among the first "feet on the ground" from Procter & Gamble when its top sales executive, Lou Pritchett, agreed with Mr. Walton to locate the first vendor enclave in Fayetteville -- 20 miles from Bentonville -- in 1989. The idea was that the distance would prevent fraternization among vendor and retailer executives, a notion discarded long ago.
At the time, it was jokingly dubbed "Fayette-Nam," Mr. Ho recalls. Yet he fell in love with the area. After a tour of duty that saw him become VP of P&G's Hong Kong division, he opted to return to Northwest Arkansas rather than Geneva or Cincinnati when he accepted a P&G global e-commerce assignment in 2000. In 2009, he became co-founder of Field Agent, which operates a mobile-phone-based panel of consumers for shopper and marketing research.
The Los Angeles Times offers a look at the battle being waged over Arkansas' alcohol amendment that, if approved, would make the entire state wet, and the inconceivable allies it has formed.
Package stores have forged an unlikely coalition here in the heart of the Bible Belt, joining preachers pounding their pulpits against the Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Amendment, which they say will spread the evils of drink.
"This fight has made for some unusual alliances," said Brian Richardson, chairman of the Citizens for Local Rights, which opposes the amendment. "The package stores and religious moral objectors — they're certainly strange bedfellows."
The article highlights an array of the religious aspects at play in the battle, and speaks to a few on either side of the amendment, including a Jasper preacher who sees the amendment causing an influx of drunk driving and an amendment supporter who says she was called "a tool of the devil" in a letter to the editor in the Newton County Times.
The article, by John M. Glionna, also centers on Mary Jackson, the owner of 67 Liquor in Possum Grape, who is worried about passage of the amendment and the effects it would have on her popular county-line store.
"It'll hurt me," Jackson tells the L.A. Times.
One of her customers, who drives from 40 miles away to buy his liquor, told Glionna he won't support the amendment.
"Hell, no," he said. "I like to stay off the radar. That's why I live out here."
To read the full L.A. Times article, click here.
Overall, that's 80,100 ads on your television screens. And there's still a few weeks to go before Election Day.
The majority of those ads have come from the race between Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor and Rep. Tom Cotton for a U.S. Senate seat. According to CPI, $24.1 million has been spent on 56,000 ads. According to the center's research, most of that money, $13 million, has come from outside groups.
On the Democratic side, some of the major donors include the Senate Majority PAC ($2.3 million), the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ($2 million) and Patriot Majority USA ($1.3 million), in addition the Pryor campaign, which has shelled out $4.2 million.
In support of Cotton, the major players have been Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies ($2.7 million), Americans for Prosperity ($1.6 million), American Crossroads ($1.1 million) and the National Republican Senatorial Committee ($1.1 million). The Cotton campaign has dished out $2.8 million for ads.
To date, research by The Center for Public Integrity shows Cotton is outspending Pryor, $12.7 million to $11.3 million. However, the research also shows Pryor and his supporters have run 28,300 ads, compared to 27,700 ads from the Cotton camp.
Compared against all other races for U.S. Senate, Arkansas is tied for No. 7 in dollars spent. Per eligible voter, Arkansas jumps to No. 3 with $11 spent per voter, which only trails races in Alaska and Iowa where $12 is being spent per voter.
At the state level, Arkansas ranks No. 17 in the country with $9 million spent in various political races, which comes to $4.23 per eligible voter and 24,100 ads. Unlike the Pryor-Cotton race, state-level races in Arkansas have seen more money from the candidates ($5.5 million) than outside groups ($3.5 million).
The majority of that $9 million comes from the race for governor, between Republican Asa Hutchinson and Democrat Mike Ross, where $5.9 million has been spent.
The Hutchinson campaign leads the way with $2 million spent on ads, compared to $1.5 million by the Ross campaign. Outside groups supporting the candidates — the Republican Governors Association and Jobs & Opportunity — have spent identical totals, $1.2 million, on ads targeting the opposing candidate.
Races for attorney general ($1.4 million) and lieutenant governor ($1.3 million) have also crossed the six-figure mark.
When's the last time you heard of a college football coach getting fired for his players' bad grades?
Sure, you've heard of the ones where an academic scandal has hit the fan, and the university is forced to clean house, but you usually don't hear of coaches being let go because their starting quarterback can't make the grades.
It's because college football is an industry driven by on-the-field results. Those results are the driver that results in millions upon millions pouring into the universities.
Just look at the Southeastern Conference, the proclaimed king of the college football world, where the top teams and top-paid coaches reside. The majority of the coaches have base salaries north of $2 million. Bret Bielema, head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks, has a base salary of $2.95 million.
Forbes recently broke down salaries of 11 of 14 SEC coaches — that was all that was immediately available — to research each coach's incentives for on-the-field results and in-the-classroom results.
The results are not surprising.
On average, if the coaches evaluated in the Forbes study met all of the on-the-field incentives in their contract, they would receive $966,363.
Gus Malzahn, an Arkansas native who is now head coach for Auburn University, had the largest amount of incentives tied to on-the-field results, which maxes out at $1.8 million. Others had max incentives above six figures: Mark Stoops of the University of Kentucky is at $1.5 million; Gary Pinkel at University of Missouri is at $1.4 million; and Steve Spurrier of the University of South Carolina is at $1.1 million.
Bielema came in at $800,000 in max incentives tied to on-the-field results.
On the flip side, the 11 SEC coaches evaluated by Forbes had an average max academic incentive of $113,636.
Also interesting: two coaches — Will Muschamp of the University of Florida and Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M University — have no academic incentives in their multi-million dollar contracts. In turn, Muschamp has $450,000 in performance incentives and Sumlin has $625,000.
According to Forbes, Pinkel had the largest max academic incentive at $250,000. Bielema and Les Miles of Louisiana State University followed at $200,000.
Forbes offered this after its findings:
"This isn't an indictment of either college football broadly or the SEC specifically. Football coaches are obviously paid to coach football, not teach math or science. But when hours spent in the classroom and on the practice field are often viewed as pulling in two opposite directions, football coach bonus structure offer an indication about where schools would prefer student-athletes spend their time."
Currently, the SEC has four of the top five teams in the country, five of the top 10, and six of the top 25.
Arkansas was rated No. 195 out of 245 schools, with an APR of 935.
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