News in brief

NLR's First Orion opens UAE office

Arkansas-based First Orion has opened an office in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Friday in his weekly state address.

The governor and Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston helped celebrate the opening earlier this week during an economic trade mission to Dubai and India.

First Orion develops and sells software to help cellphone users identify and block unwanted calls. It is building a $17 million global headquarters in Argenta, the downtown neighborhood of North Little Rock. The five-story building is projected to be able to house more than 300 employees at 510 Main St.

First Orion Chief Executive Officer Charles Morgan was founder, chairman and CEO of Acxiom Corp., which he helped grow from a small Arkansas company with 25 people to 7,000 employees globally and $1.5 billion in revenue.

-- Andrew Moreau

Missouri meat-label rule upheld by judge

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A federal judge has declined to block a Missouri law that bans companies from labeling plant-based meat products or meat substitutes as meat.

U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. said last week that he wouldn't issue a preliminary injunction to stop Missouri agriculture officials from enforcing the law, which says a product cannot be marketed as meat unless it comes from an animal with two or four feet, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Tofurky producer Turtle Island Foods, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Good Food Institute appealed the decision on Wednesday. They argue the law violates their free-speech rights.

The law, which was approved by the Legislature in 2018, gives the Missouri Department of Agriculture the power to investigate and refer potential labeling violations to the Attorney General's office or a county prosecutor.

Supporters contend they are trying to protect the products raised by ranchers, pork producers, and chicken and turkey farmers during a time when plant-based products are increasing in popularity.

Gaitan wrote in his opinion that Tofurky would not be affected by the law because its labels disclose that its products are plant-based or grown in labs.

-- The Associated Press

Arkansas Index stocks rise 1.66

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, closed Friday at 427.79, up 1.66.

Ten index stocks rose as all three major indexes saw gains for the second consecutive day after broad mid-week losses.

Shares of P.A.M. Transportation rose 1.99%. Walmart rose 1.59%.

Murphy Oil shares fell 4.34% as crude prices registered the biggest weekly decline since July.

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

Business on 10/05/2019

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