News in brief

Minority business leaders honored in LR

Five Central Arkansas leaders and businesses were honored Friday as the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce recognized the economic contributions of minority businesses.

The awards concluded a celebration for Minority Enterprise Development Week in the region. Fifteen entrepreneurs were selected as finalists and awards were given to minority business leaders that excel in their field as well as advocates and organizations dedicated to supporting these businesses.

Beatriz Mondragon with the Arkansas Minority Health Commission won minority mentor of the year. Kandi Hughes was named outstanding young professional. Tristan Wilkerson of Think Rubix was recognized as top executive minority of the year and the emerging minority business of the year was Gilmer’s Learning Solutions. Think Rubix also was cited as minority business of the year.

“Things aren’t always fair but it’s up to us to try and do everything we can to make it fair, fair for all,” chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Jay Chesshir said on the importance of developing minority businesses and entrepreneurs.

— Andrew Moreau

Soda Health raises $25M from investors

Bentonville health care technology firm Soda Health recently raised $25 million in a Series A round of investor funding.

The company said the money came from an investor group made up of Lightspeed Venture Partners, Define Ventures and Qiming Venture Partners USA.

Robby Knight, Soda Health’s chief executive and a co-founder, said the company matches people who have personalized supplemental insurance benefits with the retailers, businesses or organizations that provide those services.

Soda Health then gives the insured person a prepaid debit card to use with these service providers.

As an example, Knight said some people need transportation to their medical appointments.

“We would connect the member with services like Uber and Lyft to provide them with transportation,” Knight said.

“We believe an individualized approach is vital,” said Knight, who was a social worker before joining Walmart Inc. in positions focused on health care strategies.

“We ensure each person is matched with the right benefits and are able to adapt as their needs and health status change,” Knight said.

 — Serenah McKay

Arkansas Index ends the week at 754.18

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, closed Friday at 754.18, down 31.10.

Shares of Simmons First National Corp. rose 0.64% to lead the index Friday. Shares of J.B. Hunt Transport Services fell 4.34% and ArcBest Corp. shares fell 3.5%.

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