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The Friday Wire: Upstarts and the Hillary and Huckabee show

Watching some upstarts continue their startup, the potential contest between Hillary and Huckabee and a power boost for a Wal-Mart supplier are part of the Northwest Arkansas Friday Wire for Feb. 28.

NOTES & ANALYSIS
Interesting entrepreneurs
Helen and Sam Walton and Don Tyson and J.B. and Johnelle Hunt weren’t feted as the entrepreneurs to watch during their early days of trying to keep the cash flowing and the lights on, but entrepreneurs they most certainly were.

No matter the label, it’s important to support and highlight the wisdom, will and work ethic the aforementioned billionaires used to become the aforementioned billionaires. That’s why we want to spend the remainder of this young 2014 watching a few startup companies with connections to Northwest Arkansas.

With input from Northwest Arkansas entrepreneurial advocates like Jeff Amerine and Ramsay Ball, The City Wire has tagged five new companies in various early business phases as the ones to watch in 2014. Oh Baby Foods, Overwatch, Silicon Solar Solutions, EcoVet and DataRank were selected because they have talent, capital and ideas — three main ingredients necessary for success. Some of these five startups may thrive for years, some may get acquired and some may fizzle.

Not that we believe we’ve located the next successful multi-billon dollar company, but we do have high hopes for the entrepreneurial efforts growing in a Northwest Arkansas that continues to grow because of the entrepreneurial efforts of the Hunt, Tyson and Walton folks.

ICYMI
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: Plug Power boost
No matter your thoughts about the global retail giant that is Wal-Mart Stores Inc., there is no denying the boost this Bentonville-based company can have on a small supplier’s balance sheet.

The impact of consumer concerns
More consumers plan to sock away their tax refunds which is bad news for retailers like Wal-Mart who are sitting on higher inventory levels two months removed from what was a disappointing holiday season.

Bella Vista seeks to raise POA assessment
Bella Vista Property Owners Association is seeking a 62.5% rate increase in the monthly fees paid by homeowners in Bella Vista to combat a $60 million shortfall in reserves by 2023. The rate increase, if approved by a majority vote, will be phased in over the next three years.

NUMBERS ON THE WIRE
46%: Percentage of respondents in a National Retail Federal survey who expect to save more of the money they receive from their tax refund – up from 44% in 2013.

$4.894 million: Combined sales tax collections from Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers and Springdale in the January report, down from $5.075 million in the same period of 2013.

6.55%: Increase in number of January home sales in Arkansas’ four largest metro markets compared to January 2013, according to The City Wire’s Arkansas Home Sales Report.

OUTSIDE THE WIRE
Hillary and Huckabee
The likely 2016 matchup in Iowa if the race were held today would be former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton against former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, with Clinton ahead, according to a new poll. The former first lady and senator leads all her potential Republican challengers by at least 4 points. She tops Huckabee 46% to 42%, Bush 45% to 41%, Paul 47% to 42% and Christie 45% to 39%.

Bill and Hillary papers
The Clinton Presidential Library will make its first release on Friday (Feb. 28) of records that were previously withheld from the public under legal provisions that expired early last year, a spokeswoman for the National Archives said. About 4,000 to 5,000 pages will be put online at 1 P.M. Friday, with paper copies becoming simultaneously available at the library in Little Rock, the spokeswoman said. More releases are expected in the next couple of weeks.

Tough path for states seeking Medicaid expansion
Of the 25 states that already have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, all but Arkansas, Iowa and Michigan simply added newly eligible adults to their existing Medicaid programs. That was the easiest approach. In contrast, the states that haven’t yet expanded Medicaid but are considering doing so want to tailor the program to fit their own priorities—and that will take time.

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WORD ON THE WIRE
"Donations are the lifeblood of the organization. The funds generated through the sale of goods go right back into the Siloam Springs community to help people who need job readiness training and education."
— Goodwill Industries of Arkansas President Brian Itzkowitz, in speaking about the new Goodwill location set to soon open in Siloam Springs

“I think we’re going to have a good season this year. I think holding on during the bad times was a victory. From what I can tell, if the weather will let us alone for a while, we’re going to have a good year. I think people are a little more sure about the economy. I think they’ve got a little money in their pockets. And I think after this winter, they may have some severe cabin fever they want to solve. So I’m looking forward to a good year.”
— Richard Davies, executive director of the Arkansas Parks & Tourism Department, when asked about the tourism industry performance in 2014

“(A) court facing a defendant arrested with a gun would interpret the statute based upon its plain meaning. When all is said and done, how can the court punish a person for following the literal and unambiguous meaning of the statute? A person should not be expected to consult the history of the law’s passage, or its political context, to understand what it proscribes."
— University of Arkansas law professor Laurent Sacharoff and law student Jacob Worlow, on their review of a law that has allowed for open carry of handguns in Arkansas

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