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Cities participating in Main Street Arkansas, the state's preservation-based economic development program, saw $68.7 million in downtown project investment in 2017, according to a news release from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

The cities involved in the program documented a net gain of 54 new businesses and 37 businesses that expanded or relocated to their downtown areas, resulting in an additional 522 jobs.

The investments included 215 facade renovations, building rehabilitations or new downtown construction projects. The participating cities also saw 35 public improvement projects worth $1.5 million in their historic commercial areas, the news release said. Main Street Arkansas cities also recorded 20,856 volunteer hours invested in downtown.

Main Street Arkansas provides technical assistance and design services to help foster economic development in downtown areas through design, economic restructuring, organization and promotion.

-- Noel Oman

Arvest sets record for mortgage loans

Arvest Bank originated more than $1.1 billion in mortgage loans -- excluding refinancings -- last year, the Fayetteville-based bank said Monday.

The bank previously set a record for origination of mortgage loans at $1 billion in 2016. Arvest had 6,222 loans in 2016.

It passed those marks last year with $1.1 billion in total mortgage value on 6,684 loans.

Arvest is unlike many mortgage lenders because it services its loans, meaning customers continue to make their payments to Arvest.

Mortgage rates remain favorable even though the Federal Reserve has taken action to push short-term rates up, said Steven Plaisance, chief executive officer of the mortgage division.

-- David Smith

Stocks' rally pushes state index up 2.40

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, rose 2.40 to 401.11 Monday.

"U.S. stocks rallied for a second straight session on Monday with broad-based gains across indexes as investors try to regain some confidence after Wall Street's biggest weekly drop in two years," said Chris Harkins, managing director with Raymond James & Associates in Little Rock.

Total volume for the index was 23.4 million shares.

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

Business on 02/13/2018

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