We’d like to direct your attention to three developments last week, expressions of confidence in Arkansas’ future, always welcome but particularly so during the blistering days of summer.
- Todd Shields, dean of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, was tapped to lead Arkansas State University in Jonesboro as chancellor. Shields had noted that “Arkansas State University is in a strategically advantageous position to play a central role in the future success of Northeast Arkansas.” Northeast Arkansas has seen a lot of growth and a lot of business success in the last decade, and A-State has had a big part in that success. Shields signals that that will continue.
- Walmart is investing in the future of electric vehicles and in the future of an Arkansas maker of EVs, Canoo Inc., with its agreement to buy 4,500 electric vehicles from Canoo to be used for final mile deliveries. Canoo is moving its headquarters and a manufacturing plant to Bentonville, and the agreement with Walmart gives it the option to buy up to 10,000 vehicles from Canoo. A purchase of 4,500 vehicles could be worth more than $156.4 million.
- Galvanic Energy of Oklahoma City said that testing of underground saltwater from beneath Galvanic’s 120,000-acre stake in the Smackover brine formation in south Arkansas indicates it’s one of the largest resources for lithium, essential in the manufacture of EV batteries, in North America. “Electric vehicle makers are very concerned about keeping pace with the mass quantities of batteries they are going to need, so we realize we need to ramp up both quickly and responsibly,” Galvanic chief Brent Wilson told Arkansas Business. A Galvanic pilot lithium-extraction plant in the next year is a possibility. “But this area could definitely be a hub.”