HMA Center to bring 500 jobs to Fort Smith


Health Management Associates will operate a regional service center in Fort Smith that will employ more than 500 with average annual salaries potentially exceeding $40,000.

Officials with Naples, Fla.-based HMA announced the expansion Thursday during a press conference at the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce. HMA is the parent company of Sparks Health System in Fort Smith and Summit Medical Center in Van Buren.

Big River Steel closer to done

The $1.1 billion Big River Steel Mill superproject cleared several legislative hurdles this week as committee action and floor votes brought the 525-job project closer to the Governor’s desk. A bill outlining the terms of agreement received majority approval from two committees and the full Senate and could be finalized early next week. The steel factory plans to locate at Osceola in Mississippi County.

AG McDaniel gives Exxon Mobil deadline for documents

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel says he has demanded that Exxon Mobil produce investigative reports, inspection reports and other information connected to the company’s pipeline rupture and oil spill in Mayflower. Last week, the Pegasus pipeline began spilling oil in a neighborhood, causing environmental damage and displacing residents. McDaniel gave Exxon Mobil an April 10 deadline to comply with the subpoena he issued earlier this week.

State revenues sluggish in March

A sluggish March state revenue report resulted in lower personal income tax collections and sales and use taxes. The March report, provided by the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, showed net available general revenues of $346.4 million, 2.8 percent below last year and 4.2 percent below forecast. Year-to-date net available general revenues totaled $3.5 billion, up 4.7 percent above year ago levels and 2.5 percent above forecast.

February jobless rate holds steady at 7.2 percent

Arkansas’ February unemployment rate held steady from January at 7.2 percent and dipped one-tenth of a point lower from the previous year. The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services reported a drop-off in the civilian labor force, which led to fewer employed and unemployed Arkansans.

Nearly 6,400 workers dropped out of the work force between January and February, while 600 fell off the unemployment rolls. DWS officials noted that the state’s jobless rate was eight-tenths of a percent lower than February 2011.

Accident at Arkansas Nuclear One leaves one dead

One person was killed and three others were injured in an accident described as “significant” at Arkansas Nuclear One near Russellville on Sunday. Entergy officials said there was no danger to the public and both nuclear plants are in a “stable shutdown condition.” The industrial accident occurred at Arkansas Nuclear One at approximately 7:45 a.m. The injured employees were transported to a nearby hospital. The accident occurred when a generator stator fell as it was being moved out of the turbine building.

Collective Bias gets $10.5 million to fuel expansion

Bentonville-based Collective Bias has secured $10.5 million in investment to fund an expansion that could add 50 jobs to the company, with 25 of those planned for Northwest Arkansas. The Series A investment round was led by Updata Partners. Collective Bias uses social media marketing to promote sales growth for clients such as Nestle, Tyson Foods and Orville Redenbacher.

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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