Business Briefs for March 31, 2008

Arkansas' per capita personal income increased 5.6 percent from 2006 to 2007, according to a report from the U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis. The report said Arkansas' per capita personal income reached $30,060 in 2007, up from $28,773. The state still ranks third from the bottom among the 50 states. The national average is $38,611. Connecticut is on top at $54,117, up 6.6 percent.

Two local companies - Alltel Corp. and Aristotle Inc. - participated in the recent Federal Communications Commission's 700-megahertz airwaves auction, but neither came away with any more tech real estate. Verizon and AT&T were the major winners as the FCC brought in $19.1 billion in gross winning bids.

Sam's Club, and the National Federation of Independent Business are offering small-business owners a chance to win a $100,000 makeover during National Small Business Week April 21-25. For a complete description of the prize package, entry information and official rules, visit

The Cross County Economic Development Corp. is adding a business retention and expansion program. Mueller Industries, Eakas Arkansas, House Manufacturing and Munro Shoe Co. have agreed to be part of its inaugural BR&E program. "Eighty percent or more of all jobs come from existing employers. We want to ensure that four of our county's larger employers have the tools they need to be successful," said Aaron Stewart, executive director of the CCEDC.

Ronald M. Cameron, chairman and president of Mountaire Corp. of North Little Rock, has been named an honorary life member of the National Chicken Council board of directors. Cameron joined Mountaire, an integrated chicken producer-processor, in 1968, and became president, CEO and chairman after the death of his father, G. Ted Cameron, in 1978. The company is the sixth-largest broiler chicken company in the United States.

William Poole, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis for the past 10 years, is retiring March 31 and has accepted positions at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., and the University of Delaware in Newark, Del. James B. Bullard, currently the St. Louis Bank's deputy director of research for monetary analysis, has been appointed to succeed Poole, effective April 1.

American Electric Power's subsidiary Southwestern Electric Power Co.'s request to construct a $1.34 billion, 600-megawatt coal-fueled power plant in Hempstead County in southwest Arkansas has been approved by the Louisiana Public Service Commission. Another request is pending before the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

The University of Arkansas School of Architecture will offer a computational design workshop titled "TransFORM Architecture" from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on April 4-5. The workshop will offer students hands-on experience with Bentley Systems Inc.'s GenerativeComponents, a software tool that enables architects and engineers to experiment with innovative forms, materials and assemblies. For more information, visit

January home prices fell 10.7 percent from January 2007 with 16 of the 20 metropolitan areas posting record declines for a January. Sales of new homes fell 1.8 percent in February for the fourth straight drop - the slowest sales pace since February 1995. Consumer confidence in the U.S. economy plunged, falling 11.9 points to a five-year low of 64.5. Economists blamed the drop on all the bad economic news and rising gasoline prices.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., received the 2008 Congressional Leadership Award last week at Arkansas Children's Hospital from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's Greater Arkansas Chapter for her support of diabetes research funding. Since 2004, Lincoln has been co-chair of the Senate Diabetes Caucus and fought for millions of dollars for finding a cure for the disease.