Business Briefs for March 26, 2007

• Karen Ray has been hired as the executive director of the Republican Party of Arkansas. She will start May 1. Ray replaces Clint Reed who served for two years and recently accepted a position at the Republican National Committee. Ray currently serves in the Department of Homeland Security.
• Franklin Electric of Bluffton, Ind., will cut 200 jobs at its Siloam Springs plant and shift those jobs to a plant in Mexico.
• The University of Arkansas at Little Rock's Center for Economic Develop-ment Education graduated a record number of 40 participants, representing eight states, from its Mid-South Basic Economic Development Course this month. This was the fourth year for the course, which is accredited through the International Economic Develop-ment Council. For more information on the certification program or the center, visit www.aiea.ualr.edu/econdev.
• C.E. "Doc" Toland, 85, former chairman, president and chief executive officer of Affiliated Foods Southwest of Little Rock, died March 12. He was active in the community, supporting the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the Arkansas State Fair and the Union Rescue Mission. He was one of the organizers and served on the board of Metropolitan National Bank.
• The Little Rock Housing Authority has launched a new Web site www.lrhousing.org that offers a one-stop resource to affordable housing information in central Arkansas. Hosted by Aristotle Inc., the site will allow for the submission of applications for housing online, list current procurement opportunities and recent bid awards.
• Apex Communications of Wynne recently bought the Cabot store of Professional Service System Inc. Apex is an exclusive agent for Cingular Wireless, soon to be AT&T. The acquisition brings the total number of Apex locations to 14, all in Arkansas. Jody Huffmaster will be the store manager at Cabot.
• Jeff Hankins, president and publisher of Arkansas Business Publishing Group, will be the speaker at the April 10 meeting of the Sales & Marketing Executives Association of Arkansas at the Little Rock Club. Hankins will speak on "When Print and the Internet Collide." SMEA will hold a networking/ social hour from 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. with dinner and program following. There's a free mini-workshop from 5:15 - 6 on "How to Have Positively Outrageous Customer Service" presented by Jack Hendrix.
• The sale of booth space for Business Expo 2007 is now open to the general business public, according to Deborah Pyland, Expo chair. The event will be held on May 3, at the Pine Bluff Convention Center. Initial booth sales were restricted to members of the Greater Pine Bluff Chamber of Com-merce, which sponsors the annual event. The non-member rate is $325 per booth. For more information call (870) 535-0110.
• The Building Owners & Managers Association of Greater Littler Rock will hold its annual real estate continuing education course for licensed real estate professionals on April 13 at The Peabody Little Rock from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The seminar provides six hours of Arkansas Real Estate Continuing Education credits. The cost of the seminar, which is open to all interested people, is $75 a person. For more information call Amy Carter at (501) 604-2677 or e-mail bomaglr@sbcglobal.net. Register online at www.bomasouthwestconference.org.
• The Arkansas Trucking Association's 75th anniversary business conference will be held May 10-11 at The Peabody Little Rock. Among the entertainers and speakers lined up are country singer Mark Chesnutt, business entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria and Razorbacks coach Houston Nutt. To register, call (501) 372-3462 or visit www.arkansastrucking.com.
• Weyerhaeuser Co. said all of its containerboard packaging plants, including its Fort Smith plant, have earned Sustainable Forestry Initiative certification and are authorized to use the SFI Certified Sourcing product label. Weyerhaeuser is one of the first corrugated packaging companies to receive this certification.
• Entergy Corp. paid its chief executive officer, Wayne Leonard, $14.8 million in salary, compensation and other benefits for 2006, when operational earnings per share rose 7.3 percent, according to a proxy filing last week. The proxy also showed Leonard will be entitled to $34.8 million in payments and benefits in the event he is terminated due to a change in control of the company.