Business Briefs for April 23, 2007

• Hino Motors Ltd., which has a $160 million components plant at Marion, said that it would not build a truck assembly plant at the site, but instead would most likely build it somewhere else in the southeastern part of the country. Gov. Mike Beebe said state economic development officials are meeting with Hino executives to find why Marion is not being considered. Toyota Motor Corp., the parent of Hino, also passed on Marion - twice. Last month, another Japanese automaker, Isuzu Motors Ltd., bought land in Alabama for a U.S. truck plant. Isuzu joins carmakers Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai in Alabama. Toyota makes engines there.
• Heifer International broke ground last week on the $7.5 million Murphy Keller Education Center, the second phase of its planned expansion in downtown Little Rock. The center will be named for Polly Murphy and Christoph Keller Jr., whose family donated $3.5 million to help fund it.
• Lee Creek in northwest Arkansas has made the Top 10 Most Endangered Rivers of 2007 list put out by American Rivers. The national advocacy organization said a local water district wants to build an "unnecessary dam that will not only destroy the creek, but will open many of Arkansas' most treasured rivers and streams to similar obliteration."
• Households in the U.S. with a net worth of more than $5 million, excluding their primary residence, were up 23 percent to more than 1 million in 2006, according to a survey by Chicago-based Spectrem Group. Households with more assets of more than $500,000 excluding primary residence rose 9 percent to 15.3 million in 2006.
• Scott McNair has been named group vice president of consumer products for Tyson Foods Inc. He will oversee marketing and sales for all divisions within Tyson's consumer products business, including deli, processed meats, wholesale clubs and retail. McNair has 20 years of experience in the food industry and has been with Tyson for almost seven years.
• The Arkansas Business & Professional Women's Organization is seeking participants for its young careerist program June 1 at Little Rock. For more information, visit www.arkansasbpw.org/Young Careerist or e-mail Ursula Carter at ucarter@centurytel.net.
• QualChoice of Arkansas has signed an agreement to renew the hosted services it receives from the TriZetto Group Inc. of Newport Beach, Calif., expand the software covered under those hosted services, and license additional software.
• The Central Arkansas Library System in Little Rock, in partnership with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, has launched the Testimony to Tolerance Initiative in Little Rock and surrounding communities of central Arkansas. The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, L'Oreal USA Inc., and the Jewish Federation of Arkansas provided funding for this project.
• The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors will hold its state convention and trade show at Lake DeGray on May 10-11. Call Mark Lowery at (501) 851-6617 for more information or to register.
• Ground will be broken April 27 for the Donald W. Reynolds Crisis Intervention Center at Fort Smith. The center, a United Way of Fort Smith agency, works to rebuild families and break the cycle of domestic violence and sexual assault.
• Smart Structures Distributing, the Little Rock company that specializes in insulating concrete forms, has been chosen by Habitat for Humanity to assist in the design and construction of its new home planned for Martin Luther King Drive in downtown Little Rock. The new home will be the first Habitat residence to contain ICFs.
• ThermoEnergy Corp. of Little Rock is buying Castion Corp. of Worcester, Mass., a supplier of wastewater treatment and chemistry recovery systems. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
• Southern Living magazine and Deltic Timber Corp. have partnered for a 2007 Southern Living Idea House that will be open to the public in June in the Red Oak Ridge development at Hot Springs. The 4,500-SF home will be featured in the August issue. It will be open for tours June 11-Sept. 30.
• State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., the largest insurer of autos in Arkansas, has announced an auto insurance dividend to its policyholders in Arkansas totaling $15.2 million. Arkansas policyholders will receive 10.2 percent of their semi-annual premium. The average dividend per vehicle in Arkansas is $33. State Farm also reduced its overall rate level in Arkansas by 2.8 percent last month.
• Hoffman-Henry Insurance has moved its Little Rock office to expanded quarters at 650 South Shackleford Rd., Suite 141. The new 10,000-SF location, at Shackleford Road at Chenal Parkway, will accommodate a staff that has expanded to 50 in Little Rock.