Contract procurement assistance office opens Wednesday in Newport

The Arkansas Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) is expanding to Northeast Arkansas with a new office in Newport scheduled to open Wednesday.

"We are excited to welcome the Procurement Technical Assistance Center," Jon Chadwell, executive director of the Newport Economic Development Commission, said in a statement. "This center will provide assistance to our local and regional companies that are trying to expand their businesses by obtaining federal, state and local government contracts."

PTAC is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. It offers free services to Arkansas business owners interested in expanding their government contracts.

In 2020, PTAC's clients received more than $204 million in federal, state and local government contracts. Of that amount, $9.4 million was from state and local contracts.

"Sometimes the most difficult part of selling to the government is understanding what each government agency's preferred process is for vendors," PTAC director Melanie Berman said. "We help connect our small business clients to purchasing officials within the federal, state and local government and support business through the entire process."

The Newport site is PTAC's third location, serving businesses in all 75 Arkansas counties. The other sites are in Little Rock and Bentonville. County extension agents in each county help to connect the program to the local communities.


Several thousand Americans – including workers in Arkansas – are in line for a wage increase with Bank of America's recent announcement it will raise its U.S. minimum hourly wage to $25 by 2025.

In March last year, the company raised its U.S. minimum wage to $20 per hour.

In addition, Bank of America announced that all its U.S. vendors are now required to pay their employees dedicated to the bank at or above $15 per hour. The bank estimates about 50,000 employees and 43,000 vendor workers will be affected by the change.

It also says 99% of the company's more than 2,000 U.S. vendor firms and 43,000 vendor employees are at or above the $15 per hour rate, as a result of the implementation of this policy.

"A core tenet of responsible growth is our commitment to being a great place to work which means investing in the people who serve our clients," said Sheri Bronstein, chief human resources officer at Bank of America. "That includes providing strong pay and competitive benefits to help them and their families, so that we continue to attract and retain the best talent."


As Congress begins to debate broadband infrastructure and connectivity policy, USTelecom – The Broadband Association has issued new research showing the decreasing cost and increasing value of broadband service in the United States between 2020 and 2021.

Using FCC and other public data, the 2021 research examines recent trends in residential fixed broadband pricing in the United States. This second installment of the study reveals continued and substantial price reductions for the most popular and highest-speed broadband internet services. These price declines coincide with an unprecedented increase in pandemic related broadband demand and an increase in the overall cost of consumer goods.

Jonathan Spalter, president and CEO of USTelecom, said: "These findings are relevant to the current debate surrounding broadband affordability. In a year when everything seemed to be going up – consumers used broadband connectivity as never before, while the cost of goods and services increased too – the price of broadband went in the opposite direction. This continues a years-long story of declining prices, not to mention accelerating speeds that have unlocked a range of broadband-fueled innovations. The truth is: more Americans have cheaper and flat-out better broadband service choices than they did one year ago."

The price of the most popular tier of broadband service has declined by 7.5 percent year-over-year, a one-year price decline of 9.3 percent when adjusted for inflation.

The price for the highest speed broadband service offering declined by 2.3 percent year-over-year, a one-year price decline of 4.2 percent when adjusted for inflation.

These broadband price declines (from 2020-2021) occurred at a time when the cost of overall goods and services increased by 1.9 percent.


Lexicon Inc. has opened a health and wellness clinic at its Port of Little Rock headquarters. In partnership with Everside Health, Lexicon is now offering more than 700 on-site employees personalized medical services, such as acute care and chronic condition management.

"This investment is a continuation of our company's pledge to put people, quality, safety and innovation above all," said Patrick Schueck, Lexicon's president and CEO.

The clinic includes a full-time nurse practitioner, registered nurse and support team who are able to provide in-person services as well as telemedicine visits for remote employees. Lexicon will host a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for the new facility on June 8.

The Lexicon family of companies provides a wide range of services, including construction management, steel fabrication, erection, mechanical installation, and plant maintenance for heavy industrial, commercial and roadway projects, as well as a full spectrum of golf course construction, renovation and management services.

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