Grant Tennille, director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, told the Legislative Black Caucus on Monday that the incentives for the $1.1 billion Big River Steel Mill don’t include racial quotas for the work force. Tennille told black lawmakers that he felt mandating the hiring of a certain percentage of minority workers would be a deal-killer for the state’s first superproject.

Deck: Economy to grow slowly in 2013

UA economist Kathy Deck used her annual forecast platform to suggest that Arkansas will see economic growth in 2013, but the recovery won’t produce enough new jobs to top pre-recession levels.

"The forecast for Arkansas in 2013 is one of continued plodding growth — not enough strength in employment to regain our pre-recession highs over the next few years," Deck said. "On the other hand, Northwest Arkansas is poised to continue enjoying substantial employment gains. Construction of both housing and highways, leisure and hospitality, retail entrepreneurship and professional service gains should help lead the way."

Stephens Inc. adds analysts to technology group

Stephens Inc. just beefed up its analyst presence in the high-tech field. Stephens announced Tuesday that it has added 7 more technology company analysts to its current group of 3. Stephens will locate those folks in Boston, San Francisco, and Little Rock.

Crystal Bridges promotes Bacigalupi to president

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Board of Directors and board chair Alice Walton have promoted Crystal Bridges Executive Director Don Bacigalupi to the newly created position of president and appointed him to Crystal Bridges Board of Directors. The board has also promoted Crystal Bridges Deputy Director for Operations and Administration Rod Bigelow to executive director. Both promotions are immediately effective.

Bill to alter lottery scholarship awards advances

A bill to stagger lottery-awarded scholarships advanced in the House Rules committee this week. House Bill 1295 by Rep. Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia) and Sen. Johnny Key (R-Mountain Home) would change the awards for the Academic Challenge Scholarship, which is funded by the Arkansas Lottery.

HB 1295 would provide $2,000 for freshmen, $3,000 for sophomores, $4,000 for juniors and $5,000 for seniors regardless of whether they attend two-year or four-year programs. Four-year college students who qualify for the lottery scholarship currently receive $4,500 a year, while two-year college students receive $2,250 a year. Gillam’s bill would grandfather in current students and apply the new award amounts to next year’s freshman class.

Deltic Timber buys out temple-inland interest for $20 million

Deltic Timber Corp. has entered into an agreement to purchase the 50 percent membership interest in Del-Tin Fiber, LLC currently owned by TIN, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of International Paper Company’s Temple-Inland Inc.

The transaction is valued at $20 million. Upon completion of the transaction, Deltic will hold 100 percent of the membership interest in the Arkansas limited liability company, which owns and operates a medium density fiberboard plant in El Dorado.

Darr bows out of 2014 governor race, Nelson considering run

Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, Republican, says he’s not running for Arkansas Governor and he threw his early support to GOP candidate Asa Hutchinson. Businessman Curtis Coleman is also expected to vie for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

Darr said he has made his mind up about his political future, but he’s not going to disclose his plans until after the legislative session ends.

Also, Sheffield Nelson said he is considering another run for governor. The two-time GOP candidate most recently pushed a failed public initiative to increase the state’s severance tax on natural gas.


Roby Brock, a freelance journalist based in Little Rock, writes weekly for the Arkansas News Bureau. His weekly television program airs at 10 p.m. Sundays in Central and Northwest Arkansas. His e-mail address is; his Web site address is