Electronic games of skill (EGS) wagers at Oaklawn and Southland continued their hot streak in March as the two casino-style venues set record highs for the second consecutive month. The latest statistics released by the Arkansas Racing Commission showed Oaklawn topping $100 million in EGS wagers for the first time ever and Southland EGS wagers cleared $200 million for the first time during the month.

Both tracks saw nearly 25 percent increases in electronic games of skill wagering in March versus the previous year. Year-to-date in the first three months of 2013, the two tracks are nearing the billion-dollar mark with total EGS wagers topping $832.64 million.

Net income up 11 percent at Bank of the Ozarks

Bank of the Ozarks, Inc. announced that net income for the quarter ended March 31, 2013 was $20.0 million, an 11.1 percent increase from $18 million for the first quarter of 2012.

During the fourth quarter of 2012, Little Rock-based Bank of the Ozarks completed its acquisition of Genala Banc, Inc. of Alabama and its wholly owned subsidiary, The Citizens Bank. The acquisition resulted in a gain, net of acquisition and conversion costs, of approximately $1.1 million after taxes.

J.B. Hunt posts higher profits

J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. reported first quarter net income of $73.3 million, up from $67.7 million a year ago. The Lowell-based trucking and transportation giant reported higher quarterly operating revenue of $1.29 billion, compared with $1.17 billion for the first quarter of 2012.

The company also lowered its debt. As of March 31, 2013, J.B. Hunt had a total of $593 million outstanding on various debt instruments compared to $702 million on March 31, 2012, and $685 million on December 31, 2012.

George’s Inc. names co-CEOs, presidents

Springdale-based George’s Inc., one of the nation’s largest privately held poultry companies, announced Carl George and Charles George as co-CEOs and presidents effective April 5, 2013. Previous CEO and president, Gary George, will continue as the company’s chairman. Executive responsibilities will continue to be shared, with Carl leading all areas of live production and processing and Charles leading sales, accounting, human resources, quality assurance and purchasing.

McDaniel receives ExxonMobil documents by deadline

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel got what he asked for – and then some – from ExxonMobil in the wake of a major pipeline oil spill that occurred near Mayflower two weeks ago. McDaniel set an April 10 deadline for the oil behemoth to comply with his subpoena for documents. The company provided nearly 13,000 pages of information to McDaniel’s office. McDaniel also asked Exxon Mobil for $4 million to establish a fund to pay for the state’s investigative expenses.

Economist: Pinpointing work force decline difficult

UALR economist Dr. Michael Pakko said the decline of nearly 25,000 workers from the state’s civilian labor force during the past year may be attributed to discouraged workers no longer looking for jobs and it could also be part of the expected retirement of the baby boomer generation. For the past 13 months, Arkansas’ labor force has experienced a monthly decline in workers.

Film commissioner says new incentives pay early dividends

Arkansas Film Commissioner Christopher Crane says that new incentives approved by the state Legislature are already paying dividends. The General Assembly approved changes to the state’s film and digital products incentive act, which allows filmmakers working in the state to qualify for rebates and tax breaks. One of the main aspects of the new law increased the sales tax rebate from 15 percent to 20 percent and provided a payroll tax break for productions exceeding $200,000. "My phone hasn’t stopped ringing," Crane said.

Entergy Arkansas clears final hurdle for MISO move

Entergy Arkansas says it has received final regulatory approval from the Arkansas Public Service Commission in its move to join the Midwest Independent System Operation (MISO) transmission group.

Entergy began its effort to decouple itself from a transmission system agreement with its parent company and subsidiaries after a 2005 ruling forced the electric utility to absorb costs from sister organizations in the region and apply rate increases to Arkansas customers.

The commission granted Entergy Arkansas’ request to transfer functional control of its transmission assets to MISO, subject to continued compliance with the commission’s conditions. It also outlined steps for Entergy to integrate into the regional grid operator’s system by December 2013.

2013 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup winners named

Winners of the 2013 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition were announced. The business plan competition is managed by The Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation, an affiliate of The Arkansas Capital Corporation Group. The undergraduate business plan winner was Catch-22, a company with a model to turn nuisance fish into organic fertilizer. The graduate business plan winner was Picasolar, which has developed a revolutionary way to improve solar power productivity.


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 roby@talkbusiness.net; his website address is www.talkbusiness.net