A second shot at attempting to legalizing medical marijuana in Arkansas, notes on the new PR chief at the University of Arkansas, and the estimated growth of small business in Northwest Arkansas are part of the Northwest Arkansas Friday Wire for March 14.
NOTES & ANALYSIS
• Legalizing the weed
Could the second toke be the one that loosens up the Arkansas body politic to say “Alright,” and give a thumbs up to legalizing medical marijuana?
Folks with Arkansans for Compassionate Care believe that their second push for ballot approval of an amendment to legalize medical marijuana could win approval.
"I think with these changes, I think we're a shoe in. I really do. I thought we would win last time, but I really truly believe we will win and win by a large margin this time,” said Melissa Fults, campaign director for the group.
Irrespective of what one thinks about the issue, Fults’ optimism can’t be discounted. A similar 2012 ballot issue failed, but by a slim 51.44% to 48.56% margin. Possibly more troubling for those who believe marijuana should not be legalized in any way is that voters in the historically conservative belt that stretches from Fort Smith to Northwest Arkansas supported the 2012 measure. Combined, the proposal to allow medical marijuana was supported by 51.5% in Benton, Crawford, Sebastian and Washington counties. However, the measure failed in Benton County (47.4% for, 52.2% against) and Crawford County (47.7% for, 52.6% against).
Many polls since 2012 show a growing willingness of voters around the country to support an open or limited legalization of marijuana. If that proves true in Arkansas, well, it may not be by a large margin, but The Natural State could have a second meaning after November 2014.
Following are a few stories posted this week on The City Wire that we hope you didn’t miss. But in case you missed it …
• The Supply Side: Good stuff sells
Good-for-you products once again dominated the most successful consumer packaged goods (CPG) launches last year, according to the 2013 New Product Pacesetters report from IRI Worldwide. The consumer marketing firm evaluated 190,000 new products and 9,500 new brand launches that hit retailer shelves in 2013.
• Wal-Mart land buy near Bella Vista
Wal-Mart Stores has made no secret that it would like to build a Neighborhood Market in Bella Vista, just five miles from retailer’s home office in Bentonville, and also home to hundreds of Wal-Mart corporate employees.
• The new UA PR chief
If she'd had a career goal starting out two decades ago, Laura Jacobs met it a month ago.
NUMBERS ON THE WIRE
$195 million: Estimated investments out to 2016 among the 529 Northwest Arkansas businesses surveyed as part of a Northwest Arkansas Council report.
24: Number of new commercial construction projects in the planning stage in Northwest Arkansas, according to the January edition of a report from CBRE Northwest Arkansas.
50: Number of Benton County properties in a phase of foreclosure during February, down 62% compared to February 2013.
OUTSIDE THE WIRE
• The political push against Sen. Pryor
Americans for Prosperity is launching a major ad buy hitting Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) on Thursday, pushing the group’s advertising spending in the race to more than $1.4 million so far this year.
• Drug testing Welfare recipients
From written tests designed to flag drug users to singling out people with recent drug convictions, state lawmakers across the country are pursuing novel strategies to deny welfare benefits to drug users without running afoul of a recent federal court ruling.
• Track bus and truck driver hours
Commercial trucks and buses that cross state lines would have to be equipped with electronic devices that record how many hours the vehicles are in operation, according to a government proposal Thursday aimed at preventing accidents by tired drivers.
WORD ON THE WIRE
“I remember not long after they put me in this job, I brought the senior team together and said okay we’re going to have our first strategy talk. And here’s our strategy: we’re not going to talk about strategy for at least a year. We don’t need a strategy. We need to fix this business. Forget about grandiose ideas about who we could be in five years because if we don’t fix this thing, there ain’t going to be five years. Just go get good at what we do.”
— Tyson Foods CEO Donnie Smith about his early effort to right the financial ship at the Springdale-based company
“We started 11 years ago with four people and two trucks, today we employ 85 and have 45 pieces of equipment. We do commercial and business relocations. Regionally we see a lot of inbound growth to Northwest Arkansas, even though Arkansas is a neutral state. Enough people are leaving Little Rock and the Delta area to make the state appear neutral, but I can tell you this MSA is a vey inbound area.”
– Bill Locke, owner of Fayetteville-based Admiral Moving Services, about how his business growth has been tied to the growth of Northwest Arkansas
“The information they provide is not clean, it’s not accurate and it’s not up-to-date. They have home listings on their sites that sold six months ago, sometimes a year ago. The listing price has been wrong on occasion and the estimated values are low in some cases or occasionally too high.”
– Harold Crye, president of Memphis-based Crye-Leike Real Estate, when asked why his firm cut its ties in Memphis with Zillow