Business Briefs for March 25, 2002

• Arkansas First Lady Janet Huckabee, 46, has jumped into the race for secretary of state as a Republican. Democrat Charlie Daniels, the current state land commissioner, is the only other announced candidate for secretary of state.

Gov. Mike Huckabee drew Republican and Democratic opposition in his bid for another four-year term. Doyle Cannady of Maumelle, a retired systems operator, filed as a Republican. State Treasurer Jimmie Lou Fisher, a Democrat, also said she plans to seek the governor's office.

Former U.S. Rep. Jay Dickey of Pine Bluff, a Republican, will seek the seat he lost two years ago to Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., in the 4th District.

State Rep. Jim Bob Duggar, R-Springdale, filed for the seat held by Sen. Tim Hutchinson, R-Ark. And Attorney General Mark Pryor, a Democrat, has said he'll also seek the Senate seat.

Rep. Vic Snyder, D-Ark., drew Democratic opposition for his 2nd District seat from Jim Baker of Conway.

The filing period ends at noon April 2.

• Terry Frierson, CEO of MidSouth Bank at Jonesboro, resigned last week, effective immediately, to pursue private business interests. The board named Tommy White as interim CEO and said a search would begin immediately to find a permanent CEO for the bank with $400 million in assets.

• Former President Bill and Hillary Clinton made "factually inaccurate" statements to federal investigators during the eight-year Whitewater probe, but there was not enough evidence to prove the Clintons committed perjury or obstructed justice, according to the final report of the independent counsel.

• Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has won a court injunction to keep union organizers out of its 3,200 U.S. stores. A permanent injunction was issued by Chancery Judge Jim D. Spears. The judge's order prohibits the union from soliciting inside Wal-Mart buildings. Violators can be held in contempt of court. Union organizers can still legally solicit in store parking lots, as other groups can.

• Mandalay Resort Group and Park Place Entertainment Corp. have announced a licensing agreement with Stephens Media Group for the development of an all-new LasVegas.com Web site, already one of the most popular online city sites on the Internet. The newly configured site is expected to debut by the end of 2002, making it easier than ever for visitors to plan a Las Vegas getaway with air, hotel and car rental reservations. The Las Vegas Review-Journal is Stephens' flagship newspaper.

• The Little Rock Air Force Base says its economic impact analysis for 2001 shows an estimated 2,176 indirect jobs created and a total impact of $402.6 million — a $51.6 million increase over the previous year.

• Entergy Corp. will undertake a coal mine methane offset project in the eastern United States. The project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 400,000 metric tons through 2005. Portland-based North West Fuel Development is the project developer. Entergy will help fund the installation of an additional 600 kilowatts of methane-fueled power generation at the site of a sealed coal mine in Cadiz, Ohio.

• Pocahontas Bancorp Inc., the holding company for First Community Bank, declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of 7 cents a share for the fiscal quarter ending March 31, payable April 3 to stockholders of record March 15.

• Alltel Corp. has signed an agreement with BICS - Banque Populaire in France to provide its Corebank software and maintenance services. Alltel and IBM formed a joint venture last year to develop and market the Corebank system to financial organizations throughout Europe. BICS will use Corebank customer and product components to support its sales and distribution strategy.

• The new $3 million Best Western Inn of the Ozarks Convention Center at Eureka Springs held its grand opening last week. The new center has 18,000 SF of meeting space, 11 new meeting and banquet rooms and a new reception area with a terrace overlooking the Ozarks.

• GE Capital Commercial Finance will rely on Alltel Corp.'s Advanced Commercial Banking System to originate, service and manage its portfolio of credit facilities, such as special covenants, multitier credit facility structures and complex fee arrangements. GE Capital Commercial Finance, with assets of $410 billion, is a global provider of working capital and acquisition financing to middle market and larger companies.

• The Arkansas Arts Council will present a two-day Arts in Education professional development retreat at Camp Aldersgate in Little Rock on April 12-13. The cost is $55 a person and includes workshops, meals and overnight lodging at the camp. Call Cynthia Haas at (501) 324-9769, or e-mail cynthia@arkansasheritage.org. The deadline for registration is March 29.

• Nokia, the world's largest mobile phone maker, will expand a digital network for U.S.-based VoiceStream Wireless Corp. in a deal worth $300 million. The three-year agreement includes expanding VoiceStream's national GSM network and providing networks in new markets, including Ohio and Arkansas, Nokia said.

• The Arkansas Insurance Department will disapprove any terrorism exclusions filed as a result of the September 11 attacks. The announcement covers individual and group life and health insurance, workers' comp and personal lines of property and casualty insurance policies, such as homeowners and auto insurance.