Gov. Mike Beebe said Friday his search for a replacement for the late Maria Haley as Arkansas Economic Development Commission director would have no boundaries. Haley died of a brain aneurysm one week ago.

"There’s nobody I’m not going to try to recruit. Whether they live in Oshkosh or if they live in Greenbrier, I’m going to go after them.  I don’t care if they’re making a million dollars," Beebe said.

"Do I have some names in the back of my head? Of course I do. Am I going to tell you who they are? Of course not. We’re working slow, but we’re working on it," he said.

Tourism on the rise in Arkansas through first six months

Through the end of June, Arkansas’ tourism tax collections rose by 4.2 percent over the previous year, a sign that travelers still find Arkansas an attractive destination.

For the first six months of the year, the state’s 2 percent tourism tax brought in $5,950,368 compared to $5,708,470 during the same period one year ago. The boost in travel and vacationing in Arkansas can be attributed to several factors, says Joe David Rice, Arkansas’ tourism director.

"Arkansas’ tourism industry has a couple of key things going for it. First, we have a good product and we’re continuing to make it better. Next, our research-based marketing campaign is making the most of every tax dollar we invest. And we’re very fortunate that several of our key feeder markets have been pretty resilient in these tough economic times," Rice said.

Arkansas personal income rises

Personal income in Arkansas during the second quarter of 2011 was $99.649 billion, up 4.8 percent compared to the second quarter of 2010 and up 1.3 percent compared to the first quarter of 2011. Also, the first quarter number was revised down from $99.012 billion to $98.349 billion, according to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis. 

Arkansas’ increase in personal income was driven by a 1.2 percent increase ($712 million in real dollars) in net earnings, a 1.9 percent increase in dividend, interest and rental income ($323 million) and a 1.1 percent increase in transfer receipts ($265 million).

Arkansas Best announces management changes

Wes Kemp, president and CEO of Fort Smith-based ABF Freight System, will retire Dec. 31, ending an almost 43-year career with the less-than-truckload operator that has included significant company growth and tough economic times. 

Arkansas Best Corp., the parent company of ABF, said in a statement Wednesday that Roy Slagle, now the ABF senior vice president of sales and marketing, will become the ABF CEO on Jan. 1.

Northwest Arkansas ‘State of the Region’ report released

Education attainment and university research funding were the weak areas in a Northwest Arkansas economy that continues to perform well despite state and national economic conditions, according to a new report released Tuesday.

The "State of the Northwest Arkansas Region" report was prepared by the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas in conjunction with the Northwest Arkansas Council.

Manufacturing jobs reach state, national lows

Arkansas has witnessed a disturbing decline in manufacturing employment for decades, but the latest state jobless report depicts a new milestone.

According to U.S. Labor Department statistics, the number of Arkansas manufacturing jobs in August 2011 stood at a 156,500, a level not seen since May 1968 when Arkansas manufacturing jobs totaled 156,600.

Manufacturing is Arkansas’ third largest employment sector behind the Trade, Transportation and Utilities and Government categories. Arkansas’ manufacturing hit is part of a national trend in which the number of manufacturing jobs as of August 2011 (11.757 million) was fewer than that of August 1941 (12.382 million).

Tyson Foods settles wage lawsuit

Tyson Foods and union workers ended a 12-year, 12-state lawsuit over worker pay with a $32 million settlement. The lawsuit, brought forward by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, alleged that Springdale-based Tyson Foods violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by not paying employees for the time spent putting on and taking off protective gear in food processing and meatpacking plants. The settlement, under which Tyson admitted no wrongdoing, affected as many as 17,000 poultry workers in 41 plants in 12 states.

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