News in brief

Cotton Plant given grant for broadband

Cotton Plant has been awarded a nearly $500,000 grant in partnership with Hillbilly Wireless to deploy fixed wireless to homes in the Woodruff County town of 649.

The grant is the latest in a series the Arkansas Department of Commerce has awarded under its Arkansas Rural Connect broadband grant program, which is designed to improve broadband access in rural parts of the state.

The program received $19.3 million from the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to help provide grants to qualifying communities with populations of at least 500.

State Rep. Chris Christiansen, R-Bald Knob, represents an area that includes Cotton Plant.

“District 47 contains some of the most rural parts of the state,” Christiansen said in a news release announcing the grant Thursday. “No matter where you live in the state, you should be able to access quality broadband, and I am proud that the community of Cotton Plant will be connected.”

— Noel Oman

Third financial-tech program gearing up

Covid-19 is not disrupting the Little Rock Venture Center’s plans to proceed with its startup accelerator programs.

The organization is accepting applications for its third ICBA ThinkTech accelerator program focused on providing products and services for community banks across the country. The program is held in partnership with the Independent Community Bankers of America.

Financial-technology startups should submit an application by Sept. 15. Information is available at

“The unique challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic are driving innovation and leading to successful collaborations between fintechs and community banks to benefit those most in need,” said Charles Potts, the group’s senior vice president and chief Innovation officer.

The ThinkTech accelerator program allows financial-technology companies to work directly with bankers and industry leaders to collaborate and tailor service offerings to better meet the needs of commuity banks.

A selection committee will choose program participants. The program is scheduled to begin Jan. 4.

— Andrew Moreau

Arkansas Index falls to 436.42, off 4.08

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, closed Thursday at 436.42, down 4.08.

“Equities slid in afternoon trading as delays in fiscal stimulus negotiations, along with resistance at February highs, eroded investor confidence, leading to rotation away from cyclical stocks back towards the pandemic virus insulated technology sectors,” said Leon Lants, managing director at Stephens Inc.

The index was developed by Bloomberg News and the Democrat-Gazette with a base value of 100 as of Dec. 30, 1997.

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