Business Briefs for Dec. 26, 2006

• Stephens Inc.'s air freight and surface transportation team was named the Best Boutique or Regional Firm in the 2006 Institutional Investor survey of analysts and portfolio managers at asset management companies and hedge funds. They were asked to name the firm that they thought had done the best research work over the preceding 12 months. The team, based in Richmond, Va., is composed of Thomas S. Albrecht, Alexander V. Brand, Neal Deaton, George Pickral, Mark Rosa and Kevin Sterling.
• The Natural Resources Conserva-tion Service is accepting applications for its Wetlands Reserve Program through Jan. 26. Landowners with qualifying properties are encouraged to consider applying for the voluntary program offering landowners the opportunity to protect, restore and enhance wetlands on their property. For more information, visit
• Stanley E. Reed, president of Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance of Arkansas, has joined the board of directors of Simmons First National Corp. of Pine Bluff, according to a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commis-sion. Reed also is president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau and is vice chairman of the Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Co.
• Gov. Mike Huckabee, in his final call-in show as governor, said he expected some business-related "announcements early into next year that are going to be stunning and exciting. We are working very hard on a number of announcements."
• Wal-Mart Stores Inc. hopes to maintain its nonunion policy in most nations, but in its China headquarters, workers have set up a Communist Party branch. Wal-Mart employs 36,000 at its 68 stores in China.
• The three Farm Credit agencies that operate in Arkansas — AgHeritage FCS, Farm Credit of Western Arkansas and Farm Credit MidSouth — have agreed to serve as a lead sponsor of the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year program. They join the Arkansas Press Association, Entergy and Arkansas Farm Bureau as the primary sponsors of the program.
• The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville has launched a new fiber optic network — the Arkansas Research and Education Optical Network — to link the state to national networks to speed academic research. The network lets users transfer complex, interactive three-dimensional images and conduct video interviews almost instantaneously.
n Michael R. Winn, 49, has been chosen to head the central Arkansas hospitals of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Winn will be in charge of the VA's Little Rock and North Little Rock hospitals, which employ more than 2,900 people.
• Baldor Electric Co.'s acquisition of Rockwell Automation Inc.'s Power Systems Business has received Hart-Scott-Rodino clearance. Baldor is buying Reliance Electric Co. and certain of its affiliated companies in the deal. Rockwell expects the transaction to close on or about Jan. 31.
• Acxiom Digital said a nationwide poll measuring attitudes and responses of online adults toward e-mail marketing communications found that about three in four online adults (74 percent) view e-mail communications from a company they frequently patronize to be valuable or very valuable. Also, 30 percent of online adults have bought a good or service after receiving such e-mails, and of these, 85 percent have done so within the past year.
• P.A.M. Transportation Services Inc. of Tontitown has become a platinum sponsor of FLW Outdoors, boosting its sponsorship to include all 13 circuits. PTSI previously was the organization's official transportation sponsor.
• Intermec Inc. of Everett, Wash., has donated mobile radio frequency identification (RFID) hardware to the University of Arkansas RFID Research Center at Fayetteville. The center works primarily in the retail, manufacturing and transportation domains to examine the use of RFID, its effects on business and society, and how best to use the technology within the supply chain.
• Arkansas Federal Credit Union has donated $80,000 to the Arkansas Children's Hospital Foundation. The gift will be used for improvements in the third-floor playroom in the hospital. The area features sensory-stimulating activity areas and large-screen televisions and computers.
• Flintco Inc. of Fort Smith was recently awarded the Best of 2006 Award for Merit for Public Building by South Central Construction magazine for the $3.6 million Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center outside Fort Smith. Flintco worked on all phases of the construction process.
• Scientific Applications International Corp. has leased the eighth floor (19,128 SF) of the Metropolitan National Bank Building from Flake & Kelley Commercial. SAIC also bought the old library building and plans on bringing 100 jobs to Little Rock.