Business report

May City Business Report: Stuttgart Sales Tax Revenue Up Nearly 14%; the longtime family business sells to the St. Louis company, to remain in the Main St. location.

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Stuttgart Economic Development Coordinator David Leech presented his May report to the city, the Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce, the Stuttgart Industrial Development Commission (SIDC) and Stuttgart Unlimited, noting continued growth in sales tax collections, changes to local bank branches and the news that a four-decade-old family business has been sold to out-of-town investors but is expected to remain in its current home on S Main Street.

Excerpt from Leech’s report:

  • The 1% share of sales tax collected by the city in April was $194,453.98, up from $170,627.12 last year. This is an increase of $23,827.86 or 13.96%. The year-to-date increase for the previous four months was $135,874.13.
  • On May 4, 2022, the Federal Reserve raised rates by half a percent, the biggest increase since 2000. This, combined with high inflation and rising costs, weighed on retail profits and drove to a bear market in equities. During the last week of May, the market finally turned around after seven weeks of losses, which was the worst since 2001. The Federal Reserve indicated that it would continue to raise rates throughout 2022.
  • The state’s unemployment rate in April was 3.2%, slightly higher than April’s 3.1%. The national rate was 3.6% and Arkansas County was in the 2% range. More than 1.3 million Arkansans had jobs in April and the good news is that 5,655 Arkansas citizens have returned to the workforce. In the United States, 428,000 new jobs were added in April and 6.5 million jobs have been added over the past 12 months.
  • Retail sales rose 0.9% in April, and the country’s major retailers saw their profits and sales forecasts miss, resulting in a $503 billion loss in market value.
  • Inflation is still at its highest for 40 years. Inflation was up 6.3% in April more than a year ago. Gasoline now costs over $4 a gallon and no decrease is seen in the near future with summer travel and the war in Ukraine compounding the problem.
  • COVID numbers are rising again in Arkansas. As of May 20, Arkansas had 11,426 deaths, the United States 1,001,572 and the global count is 6,273,082. The fight is still not over and caution is in order. The percentage of vaccinated Arkansans is 57% and the goal is 90%.
  • Interest rate:
    • 10-year cash 3.01%
    • 15 years fixed 4.90%
    • 30 years fixed 5.55%
  • Farmers & Merchants Bank will be closing its drive-thru to remodel it to reopen as a virtual drive-thru (behind the main bank on Maple Street). BancorpSouth will change its name to Cadence Bank by the end of next month.
  • The Stuttgart school district held the graduation ceremony on May 13, with 100 graduates. School board elections were held on May 24 and all seats were filled except for a runoff between Rebecca Seyller and Todd Barnes. (Editor’s note: Rebecca Seyller was named the unofficial winner of the June 21 runoff election for School Board Zone 3). Stuttgart schools had another steady year with students. Stuttgart had 100 graduates, compared to 103 at Monticello, 73 at Drew Central and 70 at DeWitt.
  • Stuttgart Hospital had a bad April in terms of revenue and profit, but is still in the dark for the year. The hospital is working hard to recruit two new OB-GYN doctors and is planning a renovation.
  • The state of Arkansas recorded total revenue in April of $1.3 billion, up 40% from March due to higher sales and corporate and income taxes, and raised forecast a surplus of $1.4 billion by the end of the year.
  • The Stuttgart Ricebirds moved 54 football players into spring training, which was the highest attendance in years; the outlook is good for the 2022 season.
  • John McMinn of Stuttgart has been named director of community and economic activities for the Arkansas Farm Bureau.
  • Stuttgart’s Lana Roth has been named one of Arkansas Business’ 40 Under 40. Congratulations to Lana and her employer Producers Rice Mill.
  • The Stuttgart Hospital Foundation has donated $50,000 to Baptist Health Medical Center-Stuttgart to help with the upcoming renovation.
  • The Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie has a new director, Farrah Foster.
  • The US government released statistics this month indicating that the state of Arkansas was the most underrated state in the United States, with up to 5% of our citizens going uncounted, which will mean billions of lost money over the next 10 years.
  • Primary election figures are available for Arkansas. 25.9% voted in 2022 compared to 18.8% in 2018; 21.3% in 2013; and 29.2% in 2010. 1.7 million citizens are registered to vote in Arkansas and 457,111 voted in the primary.
  • PCCUA held its graduation at Arkansas County College Hall with 170 graduates on May 12.
  • The assisted living community behind the hospital is still being developed. The project is moving slowly but Leech says he expects it to happen.
  • Three different real estate transactions for solar power plants are underway. The biggest problem is land security.
  • Ritter Communications’ installation of RightFiber continues to progress.
  • The developer of the Riceland Hotel is back in town. Leech says he believes this person may have the vision and the money to complete the project.
  • Commercial real estate still available includes the Classic Cleaners building, the north end of Express Employment, the Roots building and two warehouses – one in Stuttgart and one in DeWitt.
  • The Added Touch building is rented and has been withdrawn from the market.
  • Waste, unmowed land and untrimmed shrubs are always a problem in Stuttgart. Leech asks business leaders and residents to help grow and develop the city, saying, “Please step up, it’s your future!”
  • The pickup cleaning service at Atlantis Laundry needs community support. The pressing is brought to Dumas every Wednesday and returned the following week. According to Leech, “This great service to our city will only continue if we support it!”
  • Drumline of Stuttgart was sold to Affluent Investments Company of St. Louis, Missouri on May 20. Drumline has been owned by Nelda and Dennis Hanson from Stuttgart for 40 years and has 86 employees. The new company will be Arch Promotions and has signed a long-term lease on its current building on South Main. The Hansons’ daughter, Amber Hanson Barnes, will remain as general manager. Leech was pleased that the Hansons were able to complete a business transaction that would keep the company in Stuttgart.