The Little Rock Port Authority is set to receive a portion of the new 1-cent sales tax approved by city voters in September. LRPA Director Paul Latture says an additional $10 million will be spent during the next 10 years to add and develop 1,000 acres at the port starting in 2012.
Latture and other waterways experts also want to see deeper dredging on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System through Oklahoma and Arkansas — a $177 million project that would make barges capable of carrying 43 percent more cargo without using much more fuel.
A looming problem is the “three rivers area” in southeastern Arkansas where the Arkansas, Mississippi and White rivers converge. The water is threatening to escape its channels in places, and if it did, the Arkansas would become unnavigable. Authorities contend that without a $10 million-$30 million repair, a problem in the pool area could cost industry about $30 million a day every time the system is closed.

Arvest remains
market share
leader in Arkansas
New statistics from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. released Tuesday (Oct.4), highlighted market share changes as of June 30 for the state’s top banks based on deposits.
Bentonville-based Arvest Bank’s dominance in the Northwest Arkansas market again sets it up as the largest deposit market share in Arkansas with $5.578 billion in deposits, or 10.73 percent of the state’s market share — up from 9.54 percent in 2010. BancorpSouth fell out of the top five, replaced in 2011 by Jonesboro-based Liberty Bank.

The top 5 banks by state market share of total deposits are:
—Arvest Bank: 10.73 percent, $5.578 billion in deposits
—Regions Bank: 8.15 percent, $4.238 billion
—Bank of America: 6.44 percent, $3.348 billion
—First Security Bank: 5.85 percent, $3.043 billion
—Liberty Bank: 3.86 percent, 2.005 billion

State revenues strong in September
Arkansas finance officials released tax collection figures that show a healthy uptick in September, the end of the first quarter of the fiscal year.
Year-to-date net available general revenues totaled $1.21 billion, $31.9 million or 2.7 percent above year ago levels. After three months into the fiscal year, net available revenues are $15.8 million, or 1.3 percent above forecast. Strong individual and income tax collections fueled the surge, but all eyes were on gross receipts as the state’s first sales tax holiday numbers were recorded.
All three revenue categories saw healthy monthly improvements.

Health insurance exchange Summit set
The politically sensitive topic of health exchanges is the focus of an Oct. 11 event in Little Rock designed to share “viewpoints on the Exchange business model.”
Joel Ario, former director of the Office of Health Insurance Exchanges, and Dr. Joseph Thompson, the Arkansas Surgeon General, will join Jay Bradford, Arkansas Insurance Commissioner, at the Arkansas Health Benefits Exchange Stakeholder Summit on Oct. 11 at the Embassy Suites in Little Rock, according to a statement from the Arkansas Insurance Department. The purpose, according to the AID, is to  “discuss where a Health Exchange fits in Arkansas’ health care improvement efforts.”

Third quarter unkind to Arkansas-Based share prices
That clunk you may have heard was the sound of the weak national economy falling hard on the share prices of the 15 publicly held companies based in Arkansas. Of the 15 stocks, only four have prices higher than their Jan. 3 closing price. And the gainers saw small moves upward compared to the losses of the other 11 shares. Arkansas based companies involved in energy, trucking and information took the biggest share price hits during the third quarter.
El Dorado-based Murphy Oil has seen its share price decline by the largest percentage, 41.97 percent, since early January. Little Rock-based Dillard’s continues to lead gainers with an impressive 11.97 percent increase in stock price since the first of the year.

Oklahoma firm ups its ownership in
Shale play
Panhandle Oil and Gas, an Oklahoma City-based holding company, says it has agreed to purchase interests in 193 non-operated natural gas wells and 1,531 acres of leasehold located in Van Buren, Conway and Cleburne counties for $17.5 million from a private seller.
The cash and credit transaction is projected to close on or about Oct. 25, 2011, with an effective date of Sept. 1. The properties are principally located in the core of the prolific Fayetteville Shale natural gas play and are primarily operated by the play’s premiere operator, Southwestern Energy.

Cargill lays off 130 in Springdale
An estimated 130 workers at the Cargill turkey processing plant in Springdale were laid off Monday. A major recall of ground turkey has hurt production and sales contributing to the layoffs.
A Cargill spokesman said that the company tried to find alternative work for employees, but it could not be found at the Springdale plant. Employees could be called back if production resumes after the turkey recall is further evaluated.
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