Business Briefs for November 12, 2007

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Hawker Beechcraft Corp. said operations at its plant at Little Rock National Airport will not be affected as it explores the possible divestiture of its domestic U.S. fuel and line operations to focus on making planes.

Sperry Van Ness has completed the sale of a 22,670-SF retail property occupied by Tractor Supply of Farmington to a private investor from Winter Harbor, Maine, for $3.49 million.

The University of Central Arkansas at Conway next year will become the only university in Arkansas and only the 23rd university in the nation to establish an officially sanctioned Confucius Institute, which is dedicated to the promotion and exchange of Chinese culture and language. The cooperative project involving UCA, the Office of Chinese Language Council International and East China Normal University is funded through a $100,000 gift from the Office of Chinese Language Council.

The Gadberry Group of Little Rock has signed a multi-year agreement to provide site location data for UK-based Tesco's U.S. grocery store venture, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market. The Gadberry Group is helping the Fresh & Easy location analysis team determine where to locate stores based on demographic and population growth trends.

The Little Rock Advertising & Promotion Commission is in the planning stages of establishing a Starbucks concession space at the east end of the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock to serve convention attendees and the general public.

Jackson Moore, chairman of Regions Financial Corp. of Birmingham, Ala., will retire Dec. 31 and return to Memphis, where he was chairman and CEO of Union Planters Corp. before its merger with Regions in 2004. Replacing him as chairman is Dowd Ritter, the current president and CEO.

North Arkansas Regional Medical Center at Harrison won several awards in the 2007 Marketing Campaign Diamond Award competition sponsored by the Arkansas Hospital Association and the Arkansas Society for Healthcare Marketing & Public Relations. NARMC received awards for advertising print, publication internal, advertising radio, advertising television, publication external and special video production.

Baptist Health Medical Center at Little Rock has earned the Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission as a primary stroke center of excellence. The Joint Commission conducted an on-site review of the stroke facility on Aug. 24 before awarding the certification. Baptist Health also has been named Little Rock's Most Preferred Hospital by the National Research Corp. for the 12th year in a row.

Cherokee Village in Sharp County has been certified as an Arkansas Community of Excellence, a program of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission's community development efforts.

Gate Petroleum Co. of Jacksonville, Fla., has bought Arkansas Precast Corp., which is based in Hillsboro, Texas, and has an architectural precast concrete plant at Jacksonville, Ark., as well as another plant at Hillsboro. No terms of the deal were released. Gate's Construction Materials Group will now operate 10 plants in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

The General Dynamics Armament & Technical Products plant in Calhoun County was closed for a day last week after a fire inside a storage building containing rocket propellant and dynamite was allowed to burn itself out. The defense contractor's 180 workers were evacuated but returned to work the next day.

Celerit Corp. of Little Rock, a company that focuses on community bank technology services, has completed a systems conversion for Evolve Bank & Trust of Parkin, the first stage of a long-term outsourcing arrangement allowing Evolve to improve services and decrease operating expenses.

Stanley Reed of Marianna, president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau, said his recent trip to Turkey with a delegation of U.S. farmers and ranchers, as part of the American Farm Bureau Federation's International Trade Committee, has the potential ultimately to benefit Arkansas agriculture. Turkey is a large consumer of rice and the second- or third-largest importer of cotton.

A Women's Business Council Southwest education and networking event for Arkansas members will be held at 4 p.m. on Nov. 13 at the Holiday Inn Presidential Conference Center off Interstate 30 in Little Rock. Leah Stitz of Ken Hubbell & Associates is the presenter of the program that gives attendees information on current trends in business. Cost is $25. For more information call Valerie Brown at (817) 299-0566. To register, go to