The Arkansas Legislature has received a letter of commitment from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, which will trigger the next phase in the Amendment 82, the super project law. AEDC officials submitted a letter to lawmakers signed by representatives of Big River Steel, which is planning a $1.1 billion, 525-job steel mill super project near Osceola (Mississippi Co.).

By law, the submission to Senate President Michael Lamoureux (R-Russellville) and House Speaker Davy Carter (R-Cabot) will begin a 20-working day window to review an analysis done by the state on the project. Legislators are being asked to approve a $125 million bond issue to help finance loans and incentives to Big River Steel. It is expected that a March 21 deadline will have to be met to conduct the analyses, return them for legislative review, and pass necessary legislation.

Support for super project strong with Arkansans

A statewide survey of 675 Arkansas voters showed that 64.5 percent support the Legislature approving a $125 million bond issue for a $1.1 billion steel mill super project. Only 17.5 percent of respondents said the bond program should not be approved, while 18 percent said they were undecided. The poll was conducted by Talk Business and Hendrix College and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent.

Senate budget chair says medicaid expansion vital for rural Arkansas

State Sen. Larry Teague (D-Nashville), co-chair of the Joint Budget Committee, says without Medicaid’s expansion he’s certain that rural Arkansas will lose jobs.

"It’ll be hard for me to be against it because I understand that if we lose our rural hospitals we’ve brought our last job to rural Arkansas, our last corporate job," he added. "When a corporation that has a plant in Nashville is looking to expand and they’re checking off their checklist over where to do that and they look and see there’s no health care in Nashville or there’s no health care in wherever, then they’re going to set that aside and move on to the next plant where there is health care for their employees. It’s an important issue in corporate America, I believe."

Wal-Mart net income rise 8.3 percent

Despite a rocky start to the calendar year, Wal-Mart Stores reported a strong end to 2012. The Bentonville-based retail giant reported full fiscal year net income of $16.999 billion, up 8.3 percent for the year, with total revenue reaching $469.162 billion, up 5 percent. For the fourth quarter (period ended Jan. 31), net income totaled $5.606 billion, up 7.9 percent compared to the year-ago period.

A leaked internal e-mail from a Wal-Mart executive indicated the current year has started off as "a total disaster," alluding to poor sales performance in February. The company also disclosed that it spent $157 million last year to manage an international bribery scandal that started with its Mexican operations.

Windstream reports revenue jump, flat-line profits in 2012

Windstream Corporation’s fourth quarter pushed its full-year results to a 44 percent increase in revenues and flat-line profits as the telecom and data provider continued tweaking its product and service mix. Little Rock-based Windstream reported 2012 fourth quarter net income of $10.1 million on revenue of $1.54 billion. One year ago, the company posted fourth quarter net income of $44.8 million on revenue of $1.21 billion. Windstream also said it would maintain its $1 annual dividend.

America’s Car-Mart thrives in competitive environment

America’s Car-Mart posted third quarter net income of $7.98 million on revenue of $119 million. Same-store sales rose 8.8 percent in a quarter-over-quarter comparison. The results were an improvement from one year ago when Car-Mart recorded net income of $7.3 million on revenue of $105 million. The Bentonville-based used car chain said the increase in profits and sales came despite increased pressure from competitors.

USA Truck names John Simone as CEO

USA Truck, Inc. announced that John Simone has been appointed president and chief executive officer and has joined the company’s Board of Directors. Former CEO Cliff Beckham has returned to his previous role as the company’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, which he previously held from 2002 to 2007. Both changes are effective immediately.

Simone has over 30 years of operational and management experience in the transportation industry with leading companies that include UPS, Ryder, and Greatwide Logistics. Most recently, he was the CEO of LinkAmerica where he led a successful operational turnaround.

Global food group to add 224 jobs in Clinton

Global Food Group will locate a new manufacturing and packaging facility in Clinton investing $4.7 million and adding 224 new jobs to the region. The company makes products such as retail sandwiches, quesadillas, tortillas and burritos. Global Food Group also packages a brand of products from chicken tenders to all types of potato products, southern vegetables, breads, rolls, and biscuits. Global Food Group’s customers include Associated Grocers, Super Value, Harps, and Food Giant. The company is a subsidiary of Global Performance Group, which is headquartered in Cabot.

Arkansas lands $42 million federal grant for health reform payment effort

Arkansas has been awarded a $42 million State State Innovation Model grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to assist with its Payment Improvement Initiative efforts. The state Department of Human Services announced that Arkansas and five other states were award grant funding.

The grant money will help Medicaid support providers as they transition to a new state payment model. It also will help cover costs required to implement the model, along with technical analysis, infrastructure and contractors.


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 website address is