Wal-Mart Worries in Northwest Arkansas and Has the State Jobless Rate Peaked? in This Week’s Arkansas Business

Arkansas Business is on the racks and the InterWebs now! Let’s take a look-see, shall we?

Gulp! Wal-Mart’s home office job cuts and a slow exodus of vendors — along with whispers about decentralized operations — has northwest Arkansans seeking new economic development engines for the region.

Is this as bad as it gets? Arkansas’ top economists think the state’s unemployment rate might have finally peaked. Still, it’s tough out there. Includes a look at how many jobs we’ve lost since 2007.

Banking on social media: Arkansas banks wade carefully into the waters of social media — and a sea of federal and industry regulations.

Let’s toot our own horn! Gwen Moritz on just how prescient Arkansas Business has been on a host of issues: banks pruning their branches and — of course — Asian carp!

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On the Air: Catch Us on 103.7 the Buzz As We Ruin Your Sunday Morning!

The rumors are true! Catch myself, David Kinkade and Jason Tolbert doing our damnedest to ruin Blake Rutherford‘s “Arkansas Sunday Edition” talk-show-for-your-radio-box programme from 7-9 a.m. Sunday. We’ll talk politics of course, once Blake and RJ Hawk get the sports chat out of their system.

Related

The boss, Jeff Hankins, is on “Arkansas Week” at 8 p.m., a special live pledge drive edition of the venerable weekly current events roundtable. Don’t miss it, and don’t forget to send in your pledge to support AETN and local public television.

The Hitler Video Meme Goes Local, Takes on Conway’s Cash Reserve Shortfall

A YouTube user named Highdollarrecords has posted the video above, another entry in the long-running Hitler video remix meme. This one hits close to home, parodying the recent cash reserves shortfall by the city of Conway. These videos are usually pretty funny (the million remixes notwithstanding), but I wonder what Conway Mayor Tab Townsell thinks of Adolf Hitler in the role of “mayor” in this clip.

(Thanks to @CottonR for the tip!)

We’re So Jealous! Follow These Arkansans at #SXSWI

Emily Reeves and Charles Crowson

Emily Reeves (@reeves501) talks via Skype from Austin to Today's THV This Morning's Charles Crowson.

So this is happening.

The opening day of the South by Southwest Festival’s Interactive conference — coupled with pre-order day of the Apple iPad — make today, Friday March 12th, perhaps the geekiest day of the year! And you certainly don’t want to miss out on that, do you? Of course you don’t!

Fortunately, we’ve got Arkansas Tweeple on the ground in Austin, Texas, home of #SXSW. Among them, Emily Reeves of Stone Ward of Little Rock, who’s tweeting and Skyping from the event. This morning, live from Austin, she checked in with Today’s THV This Morning’s Charles Crowson to give us an overview of what’s happening at this year’s event.

We expect more updates via her @Reeves501 Twitter account and her personal blog, Ms. Adverthinker, where she’s already posted her insane schedule, which we kinda hope is really only for keeping up appearances. There’s not near enough time in there for boozing and partying and geeking it up with fellow geeks, which is really what SXSW is all about, right? Right.

Also in town, another friend of the blog, Bryan Jones and Wade Austin, both of CJRW of Little Rock. Both are tweeting from there as well, and Jones will be providing daily wrap-ups on his blog, Flairification.com.

Any other Arkansas Twitterers in Austin at the festival? Let me know, and I’ll list them here.

So what’s on tap for Friday? You can the full schedule here, which includes seminars on pay TV vs. the Internet, developing apps for iPhone, Internet analytics, Web typography, Gen Y entrepreneurs, social media marketing for business and much more.

You can also expect the usual complaining about AT&T’s inadequate data network as thousands of iPhone-equipped geeks jockey for bandwidth during the entire event. You’ll also hear lots about Foursquare this year, as everyone checks in at every conceivable site in Austin. And, as Emily notes in the video above, folks will be waiting to hear what Twitter co-founded Ev Williams has to say about his coming revenue model for the microblogging service.

Of course, the elephant in the room, the phantom hanging over the entire proceedings, is the Apple iPad, which won’t even hit the streets for another month. Nevertheless, it will likely dominate most chatter at the event.

Related

Ah, Austin. How we love you!

Arkansas Business Investigates Disciplinary Inconsistencies at the Arkansas Medical Board

I’m really not an impartial observer here, but this week’s edition of Arkansas Business has to be one of the strongest I’ve seen in 10 years working as the paper’s Internet Editor. And the centerpiece of this edition is Mark Friedman’s in-depth look at the Arkansas Medical Board’s inconsistent track record of disciplinary action.

We start with Dr. Randeep Mann, who allegedly car bombed the head of the state medical board. Despite that — plus accusations that he over-prescribing medications that led to the deaths of 10 of his patients — Mann still has his medical license. And there are other strange cases to boot.

The lead:

Before being accused of bombing the car of the chairman of the Arkansas State Medical Board, Dr. Randeep Mann of Russellville was accused of over-prescribing medications that led to the deaths of 10 of his patients.

Yet he is still a licensed physician in Arkansas while doctors whose transgressions seem far less serious – having a consensual affair with a patient that led to marriage, for instance – have had their licenses yanked.

Arkansas Business reviewed the board’s files on several doctors and found startling inconsistencies in the way doctors are held accountable, a situation that the Arkansas Supreme Court described as “arbitrary and capricious” in one case and which other researchers found to be common across the country.

You can see the full four-part package via the links here, including a look at the board’s “conspiracy of silence” and one legislator’s attempt to prevent a private attorney from representing the Arkansas State Medical Board.

Also This Week

This is fun. Remember Michael J. Wasserman’s proposed constitutional amendment to allow casinos in Arkansas? Sam Eifling sent copies to gambling experts, who “were gobsmacked by the proposal, which they described as so tilted toward the casino operator that it would be unprecedented, if not completely unrealistic.” The word “silly” is also used.

And talk about “creative deal making.” A lawsuit that revealed the broken personal and professional relationship between Rick Ferguson and Steve Wortman provides some interesting glimpses into property valuations in west Little Rock’s fanciest digs.

Oops! They forgot to include The Morning News in this year’s Arkansas Press Association guide. “They” meaning the folks at Northwest Arkansas Newspapers, which now controls the 30,000-circ. newspaper.

And the list of the state’s biggest hotels.

And for the Golfers!

Included in this weeks’ Arkansas Business: The ArkansasSports360.com Executive Golfer! You can see it all online here, along with a link to a digital edition. Includes the directory of Arkansas golf courses, a profile of pro Bryce Molder, profiles of top executive golfers, the results of our readers poll of the state’s top courses and much much more.

Meet Up With Me at the Rally! Little Rock Marathon Events Happen Today, Sunday

Little Rock Twilight 5k 2009

Laura, at the Twilight 5k in 2009

Sunday morning: The 2010 running of the Little Rock Marathon.

I’ll be out early with my wife Laura (above), who’s running her first half marathon. Ed, Tom and Meredith tell us to expect a cool morning, possibly overcast. But Laura’s ready, whatever the weather.

Runners take off at 8 a.m. at the Clinton Presidential Center, and the race awards ceremony starts at 10 a.m. You can see a course map here, linked at the bottom of the page.

As for me, I’ll be snapping photos, shooting video, handing out raisins to Laura at key places along the route, and sending updates to Twitter as I can.

But the raisins are priority one. I’m told that’s very important.

Maybe we’ll see you Sunday!

UPDATE: She did it! Here’s first photos and a quick video of the start of the race.

Jeff Hankins: Bill Halter Is Enemy No. 1 for Business Community

Bill Halter

Bill Halter, an outsider in his own party.

Arkansas Business Publisher Jeff Hankins, writing in Monday’s editions, contemplates the onslaught of campaign donation solicitations the Arkansas business community will endure this tumultuous election season and assesses the all-important U.S. Senate race.

No predictions on the ultimate outcome, but it’s a good perspective on what business leaders will be thinking when kicking the tires on this marquee race.

On Halter:

Enemy No. 1 for the business community – locally and nationally – is Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who instantly received the endorsement of the AFL-CIO and has been promised some $4 million in national union money.

[…]

Halter would be a guaranteed vote for federal labor legislation such as “card check,” which his opponent, U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, finally and correctly opposed after significant arm-twisting from corporate Arkansas. That’s the measure that would have made unionization of companies big and small far easier, thus growing the AFL-CIO’s business.

Interestingly, the Arkansas Democratic Party establishment won’t be lining up to support Halter either. They don’t like him and never have. Hard-core liberals who are irritated by Lincoln’s centrist voting patterns will turn to him in the primary, but those numbers are small in Arkansas. If Democrats in Arkansas want to retain a seat in the U.S. Senate, booting Lincoln in favor of Halter isn’t going to do it. A state that didn’t support Barack Obama won’t go for Halter either.

But Halter isn’t to be taken lightly. For more on Lincoln and the Arkansas business’ community’s biggest fear, along with a glance at the Republican lineup, Gentleman Jim Keet and the bonanza that awaits local media, read Hankins’ full column here.