Walmart will change its benefits policy and allow the same-sex partners of its workers to qualify for company health plans. Full-time associates’ spouses and domestic partners will be eligible for coverage in medical, dental, vision, life, critical illness and accident plans, the Bentonville-based retailer said in a postcard to employees this week. Wal-Mart said more than half of its 1.3 million employees participate in company health care plans.

Study chronicles rural manufacturing decline in Arkansas: Dr. Wayne Miller, an economist with the University of Arkansas’ Division of Agriculture, has issued a new report, Rural Profile of Arkansas 2013, which highlights how many manufacturing jobs in small towns have been shipped overseas in recent years.

Miller’s report on rural Arkansas pointed out that Arkansas lost nearly 63,000 manufacturing jobs from 2001 to 2010, which has greatly affected the economic base of rural areas. Also, the state lost 29 percent of its manufacturing employment over this time period compared to a 28 percent loss nationwide.

Lawmakers look at income tax reduction: State lawmakers on the House and Senate Revenue and Taxation committees are eyeing more tax cuts in the next legislative session and beyond. On Tuesday, legislators were presented with a chart showing how reducing the income tax by .2 percent per year and .3 percent per year would affect residents’ tax brackets.

Bill Clinton to give Little Rock speech on health care law: The Clinton Foundation announced Wednesday that former President Bill Clinton will give an address on the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday, Sept. 4. Clinton’s address will take place at 10 a.m. at the Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock.

Clinton National Airport receives $5.1 million grant: The Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock will receive a $5,124,468 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The funding will be used to rehabilitate the taxiway and runway lighting systems and reimburse the airport for land previously purchased for development.

Little Rock port breaks ground on new resource center: Port authorities in central Arkansas broke ground Thursday on the Arkansas River Resource Center at the Port of Little Rock. The nearly $1.85 million, 5,000 sq. ft. building will house The Little Rock Port Authority, The Little Rock Port Authority Shortline Railroad and The Arkansas Waterways Commission.

RLJ Mclarty Landers group buys Texas Toyota outfit: Little Rock-based RML Automotive – also known as RLJ McLarty Landers Automotive Holdings, LLC – announced today the acquisition of Toyota of Lewisville in Lewisville, Texas. The 74,000 sq. ft. facility is located in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

Munro & Company closing Mt. Ida facility, 85 to lose jobs: Hot Springs-based shoe manufacturer Munro & Company will close its Mt. Ida facility, laying off 85 workers permanently. Munro will continue to manufacture at its other two Arkansas facilities in Clarksville and Hot Springs. The company blamed competition from imports for the downsizing.


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