Arvest Bank announced Thursday it has entered into an agreement with Bank of America Corporation to purchase 29 locations and most deposit accounts and loans associated with those locations.

The locations being acquired are all within or close to existing Arvest markets and include 9 locations in Arkansas. The purchase is subject to regulatory approvals, which are expected in the first quarter of 2013. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The agreement includes branches in Harrison, Hot Springs, Hot Springs Village, Mountain Home, and Russellville.

Dr. Jonathan Bates to retire as Children’s Hospital CEO

Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) announced that CEO Dr. Jonathan Bates will retire on June 30, 2013. His two decades at the helm will make him the second longest-serving CEO in the hospital’s history.

The ACH Board of Directors has hired national executive search firm Witt/Kieffer to assist in finding Bates’ successor. The board also announced that it will create the Jonathan R. Bates, MD Center for Patient and Professional Advocacy. Thus far, $3 million in initial funding has been dedicated to help establish the center.

Beebe says state to partner with FEDS on health insurance exchange

The debate over whether Arkansas will have a state-run health insurance exchange, a federal one, or a hybrid may be moot for now. Gov. Mike Beebe (D) told reporters on Wednesday that Arkansas will opt into a partnership with the federal government to implement a health insurance exchange, which is part of the Affordable Care Act. The federal health care reform law calls on states to have insurance exchanges where qualified individuals and businesses can shop for health insurance options.

Regional Hot Springs jobs group renames itself

In an effort to capitalize on its nationally known name and to re-position its interest in regional job growth, the Garland County Economic Development Corporation has changed its name to the Hot Springs Metro Partnership.

The group unveiled a new web site — — aimed at showcasing the area’s amenities and economic advantages. The name "Hot Springs Metro Partnership" was chosen because it better reflects the region outside of Arkansas. The group’s research showed many people did not know where Garland County was, but they were familiar with Hot Springs.

Electronic gambling nears $2.5 billion for 2012

With one month to go, casino-style gambling at Arkansas’ two racetracks is poised to top $2.5 billion for the year. According to the latest statistics released by the Arkansas Racing Commission, casinos in Hot Springs-based Oaklawn and West Memphis-based Southland have totaled $2.485 billion in electronic games of skill (EGS) wagers from January through November. The 11-month total is roughly 39% higher from the previous year. One year ago, the two tracks had a combined $1.783 billion in the first 11 months. For all of 2011, EGS wagers totaled $1.967 billion.

Lottery scholarship tally up to $300 million

Scholarships funded during the more than three years from the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery total more than $300 million, according to program figures released Monday. The program received a big boost in November thanks to the $587.5 million Powerball drawing held Nov. 28. Arkansas lottery officials said the much-publicized drawing boosted scholarship funds during November by $3.4 million. It is unknown if the boost will reverse a trend of declining collections during the first few months of Arkansas’ fiscal year. Early projections are that fiscal year revenue from the program could decline by $7 million.

Delta Regional Authority invests in El Dorado business incubator

The Delta Regional Authority will invest nearly $200,000 into the El Dorado Incubator Environment - known as EDIE’s Village - to provide support for entrepreneurs across Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, and Union counties. Other contributors to the partnership include South Arkansas Community College, the Arkansas Women’s Business Center and Winrock International.

The investment will develop student-run businesses; launch retail space for local entrepreneurs; and provide one-on-one business development and product marketing counseling for participating entrepreneurs.

Bryan Harsin named football coach at ASU

Bryan Harsin, a 13-year coaching veteran, has been named as the head football coach at Arkansas State University. He replaces Gus Malzahn, who took the head coaching job at Auburn.

Harsin, a finalist for the 2009 Broyles Award recognizing the top assistant coach in the country, has been associated with two nationally-prominent programs during his career. He worked closely with Chris Petersen at Boise State and Mack Brown at Texas, spending the last seven seasons as an offensive coordinator with the Broncos and Longhorns.


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