Arkansas Business: Week in review

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Arkansas Business) -- It's been another busy week in the Natural State. LanceTurner has your Arkansas Business Week in Review.

It was a week that revealed a few more details of Razorbacks football coach Bret Bielema's employment contract with the University of Arkansas. The UA releasing the complete employment document on Wednesday.

It outlines Bielema's 6-year, $3.2 million per year deal with the university, as well as various perks and incentives Bielema is eligible for. The deal also includes a $12.8 million buyout for the first three years of contract.

Bielema also gets the use of two university-owned vehicles, free skybox tickets to all Razorbacks home games, the golf memberships at The Blessings golf course and the Fayetteville Country Club.

Among the performance incentives, Bielema will get an extra $100,000 for winning an SEC Championship, an extra $350,000 for winning a National Championship, and an extra $300,000 for appearing in a National Championship game.

You can download the complete contract and see it all for yourself here.

Speaking of sports, there's going to be another expansion of electronic gaming at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs. The Hot Springs City Council on Tuesday voting 6 to zero in a favor of a new Oaklawn site plan that will expand the number of gambling tables and machines there by about 50 percent.

Some residents and business owners had raised concerns about the expansion, questioning whether Oaklawn will have sufficient parking to handle peak crowds during live racing season and whether the expansion required a new rezoning for Oaklawn. Still, the measure received council approval. Mayor Ruth Carney abstained from the vote.

The move comes as Oaklawn, like Southland Greyhound Park in West Memphis, is taking in vastly more revenue in electronic gaming than traditional live racing. In fiscal 2013, Oaklawn took in more than $1 billion in wagers on electronic games versus $40 million on live racing.

On the pure business front, state Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and his wife, Bobbi, said they purchased a Little Rock limousine service. McDaniel telling Arkansas Business on Monday that they've purchased Argenta Limo LLC and its assets from David Bratton. McDaniel said terms of the deal, including the purchase price, are confidential. McDaniel said he's looking for a new office building for the company.

The purchase includes seven vehicles, although the company has access to more. McDaniel says he and his wife hope to grow the business by expanding its airport service. McDaniel is term-limited and therefore cannot run for re-election.

And economic concerns were the issue of the day Wednesday, when Windstream Holdings Inc. CEO Jeff Gardner was in Washington DC, part of group of CEOs from major American companies meeting with the president and Congress.

Gardner is part of Business Roundtable, which surveys CEOs each quarter on their six-month outlook for the economy. The most recent survey showing continued slow economic growth and a hesitancy among CEOs to hire workers. Some of that they attribute to political stalemate in Washington as Congress and the president prepare to deal with deficit and the budget.

Gardner and the other groups urged the president and Congress to work together toward comprehensive tax reform, which they say will help businesses feel more confident about making new business investments.

And finally, Monday's the day. State insurance officials said Thursday that they'll be releasing information this week about how much those new health insurance marketplace health plans will cost.

State Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford told a legislative panel that he expects to be able to release information about the plans on Monday, that's about a week before open enrollment for the health insurance exchange begins on Oct. 1. State officials expect about 500-thousand people to use the insurance exchange.


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