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News in brief: High-tech Walmart store heads to NWA

May 20, 2023 at 1:41 a.m.

High-tech Walmart store heads to NWA

Walmart Inc. will open a high-tech, in-store fulfillment center on Monday in Bentonville -- its first such center in Arkansas and its second in the U.S.

The company said in a news release Friday that the Market Fulfillment Center is built inside Store 100 at 406 S. Walton Blvd. It will use Walmart's proprietary Alphabot storage and retrieval system.

"Walmart's strategic use of technology to transform its stores aims to better the shopping experience for customers and open doors to opportunities for associates," the company said.

Walmart said it plans to open a mix of manual and tech-powered market fulfillment centers in coming years.

The Bentonville-based retailer has used Alphabot autonomous carts since at least 2019, when they were put to work in a New Hampshire Supercenter to store and retrieve items for online grocery orders. The bots were built by Alert Innovation, a robotics automation company.

Walmart agreed in October to acquire the firm it has worked with since 2016.

-- Serenah McKay

Beef and Egg Month is declared in state

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders made two proclamations on Friday declaring May as Arkansas Beef Month and Arkansas Egg Month to highlight the economic contributions of the state's beef and egg industries.

"Agriculture is our number one industry, and we want to make sure it stays there," Sanders said in a state Department of Agriculture news release Friday.

Arkansas typically ranks in top 15 nationally in terms of beef cattle production, per the Arkansas Farm Bureau; the state ranks third in the nation for broiler production, per The Poultry Federation facts and figures for 2022.

There were 1.63 million head of cattle in Arkansas, most of which was cattle raised for beef production, and over one billion head of broiler chickens for poultry production as of January in Arkansas, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's State Agriculture Overview for Arkansas 2022.

Representatives from Arkansas beef industries Natural State Beef Company, Cal-Maine Foods, as well as agricultural advocacy organizations Arkansas Cattlemen's Association, Arkansas Farm Bureau and the Poultry Federation attended the proclamation event on Friday.

"Beef and egg production in Arkansas are great examples of why agriculture is our state's largest industry, with beef and egg products consistently ranking in Arkansas's top eight agricultural commodities," Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward said in the release.

-- Cristina La Rue

Arkansas Index sees loss of 14.07 points

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, closed Friday at 746.73, down 14.07 points.

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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