A couple of prestigious awards, a new political hire, and “FAST” money for the University of Arkansas round out the day’s kudos.

LIVABLE CITY
Little Rock has been named No. 1 on Kiplinger’s Personal Finance’s list of 10 Great Places to Live for 2013. The rankings place an emphasis on small and mid-size cities, considering metro areas with a population of one million or less that have good jobs, reasonably priced homes, decent schools and access to great health care. The rankings appear in Kiplinger’s September 2013 issue—on newsstands August 6, 2013—and available online now.

“We are pleased to receive this recognition from Kiplinger,” said City Manager Bruce Moore. “Those of us who call Little Rock home recognize it is a great city for living, working and playing. It is always nice when an well-respected, objective source such as Kiplinger reconfirms this. Read more here.

RLJ McLARTY LANDERS AUTO WINS AWARD
RLJ McLarty Landers Automotive Holdings, LLC (RML) ranked first on this year’s “B.E. 100s Auto Dealers” list published annually by Black Enterprise. The automotive group has ranked 1st on the B.E. 100s list for four consecutive years and its rank is based on 2012 revenue among 60 minority auto dealers in the country.

“Thomas “Mack” McLarty and I created RLJ McLarty Landers with the goal of becoming the nation’s largest minority auto dealership,” said Robert L. Johnson, founder and chairman of The RLJ Companies and chairman of the board of the automotive group. “We continue to grow and expand our dealership base across the country, and I am pleased with this year’s top ranking. Being ranked in the leading dealership position for the fourth consecutive year is truly a testament to our talented management team and our proven ability to successfully compete in the automotive industry.”

“We have a strong track record at RML,” added Franklin McLarty, president and CEO. “In six years, RML has grown to volume among some of the most recognized dealership groups in the country. I am confident that if we continue to respond to our customers, listen to our employees, and build on the expertise of our associates and GMs, our company will continue to represent some of the highest quality of standards in the industry. We are excited about today’s announcement,” he said.

RML is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas and is the largest African-American owned automotive franchise in the country consisting of 35 automotive franchises and three Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealerships across the South Central, Southeast, and Midwest regions of the country.

MARKHAM GROUP HIRES EVAN TANNER
The Markham Group has hired Evan Tanner as it expands its political campaign firm.

Tanner, an Arkansas native, has previously worked as statewide Field Director for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, National Advance Staff for the Hillary Clinton for President Campaign and as a Regional Field Director for Democratic Party of Arkansas Coordinated Campaigns that served to elect and re-elect Governor Mike Beebe.

In addition to his work in Arkansas and for Secretary Clinton, Tanner has managed campaigns and run field programs in every corner of the country from Florida to California.

SBA AWARDS UA ‘FAST’ MONEY
The U.S. Small Business Administration has granted 20 awards, of $95,000 per award, for FY 2013 to 20 state and local economic development agencies, business development centers, and colleges and universities.

The University of Arkansas’ FAST program was one of this year’s winners.

The FAST Program is designed to stimulate economic development among small, high technology businesses through federally-funded innovation and research and development programs like the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR). The project and budget periods are for 12 months, starting October 1, 2013.

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Stephanie Baker

Stephanie Baker

Stephanie Baker is the Vice-president of Operations for Talk Business & Politics. She can be reached by email at Stephanie@TalkBusiness.net.