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Business news in brief

by David Smith, Serenah McKay, Dan Holtmeyer | August 7, 2018 at 1:40 a.m.

Senator: Wisconsin mill bill lacks votes

MADISON, Wis. -- A Republican co-chairman of the Wisconsin Legislature's budget committee said Monday that there are not enough votes in the Senate to pass a $109 million tax-break bill designed to keep open a pair of Kimberly-Clark Corp. plants in northeast Wisconsin, saving more than 600 jobs.

Kimberly-Clark, which makes Kleenex tissue, Huggies diapers and other paper products, said earlier this year that it planned to shutter the plants, but hopes of saving them were rekindled last month after the union representing workers there agreed to concessions.

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission is planning an incentive package to keep a Kimberly-Clark mill in Conway open. In July, Kimberly-Clark told its 350 employees in Conway that it is considering closing the plant. The plant is a sister plant of one of the Wisconsin facilities.

Arkansas' incentive package depends on how things shake out in Wisconsin, the commission said. The state will submit an incentive package to Kimberly-Clark, Preston said, but he declined to provide details of the offer.

Wisconsin Republican state Sen. Alberta Darling said during a legislative forum Monday that "right now we probably don't" have the votes to pass the bill. Darling, co-chairman of the budget committee, said if the bill were up now, "I don't think there would be the votes but I'm not saying there won't be."

-- The Associated Press

U.S. awards $1M to UA tech park firm

Ozark Integrated Circuits Inc., located in the Arkansas Research and Technology Park at the University of Arkansas, was selected for a $1 million grant by the U.S. Department of Energy, Ozark said Monday.

The grant was for Ozark's Phase II Small Business Innovation Research project, "Rugged, Long-Life Flow Monitoring for Enhanced Geothermal Systems."

The award will enable Ozark to use its unique high-temperature expertise and technology to develop a system to monitor high-temperature geothermal wells.

"It all comes down to the University of Arkansas -- the technologies and the people -- that has made Northwest Arkansas a cluster for extreme environment engineering and research," said Matt Francis, founder of Ozark Integrated Circuits.

-- David Smith

Walmart, Gobble team up on meal kits is working with meal-kit company Gobble to sell its kits online, a spokesman for the Bentonville-based retailer confirmed Monday.

Five kits were posted on Walmart's e-commerce site Monday. Two of the Gobble's Fresh 15-Minute Dinner Kits contain semi-prepared food for two different meals, each of which serves two people, for $55.96. Another option has three dinners for two people for $71.94.

Finally, two kits containing two dinners for two nights but serving four people each sell for $95.92. An order placed Monday would arrive Aug. 15 for a $9.99 shipping fee, according to the website.

A spokesman for in San Bruno, Calif., said in an email that the company continues looking for new items to offer shoppers, including "specialty food items like the meal delivery kits by Gobble, farm fresh crates and snack boxes that give customers convenient options to plan and prepare meals."

Gobble Chief Executive Officer Ooshma Garg founded the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company in 2010.

-- Serenah McKay

Penner takes post at Mercy Northwest

Mercy Northwest Arkansas' clinic operations have a new chief operating officer.

Doug Penner took on the position last month after working for health systems in New Hampshire and California, according to a Mercy release. Andy Thompson left the position for work at another health system, a Mercy spokesman said.

Penner arrives as Mercy expands the reach of its clinics in Benton and Washington counties. New clinics have opened in Pea Ridge and Bentonville, and construction work has begun on a Springdale multispecialty location that could open in the next year. On the Mercy Hospital side, the system is in the middle of building a new tower at the Rogers medical center that will hold more than 100 new beds.

"We feel fortunate to have Doug in such an important role in our ministry," Mercy Clinic President Dr. Steve Goss said in a news release. "His experience, coupled with his dedication to patient-centered care, will be essential as we continue to build our network of clinics in Northwest Arkansas."

Penner in a statement said it was an honor and privilege to join the system.

"I am thrilled to be joining Mercy," he said. "Mercy has a long tradition of excellence, and a profound commitment to its mission."

-- Dan Holtmeyer

MoviePass plans cap, but no price rise

NEW YORK -- MoviePass, a discount service for movie tickets at theaters, is walking back a planned 50 percent price increase after a subscriber backlash. But the cash-starved company will soon impose a cap of three movies per month, instead of one every day.

The company says the new plan will include "many major studio first-run films," though there will be exceptions that the company didn't specify. In doing so, MoviePass is rescinding a recent cost-cutting move of barring viewings of most major releases during the first two weeks.

MoviePass has shown that many moviegoers will make time to hit theaters when movies are affordable, despite more convenient options such as Netflix and video on demand. U.S. movie ticket sales are up 8 percent so far this year, according to comScore. MoviePass claims credit for some of that.

MoviePass has grown to 3 million subscribers, from about 20,000, since it slashed monthly rates nearly a year ago to $10, from as high as $50.

But that success has proved costly. Because MoviePass typically pays theaters the full cost of tickets -- $15 or more in big cities -- a single movie can put the service in the red. Its parent company recently had to take out a $5 million emergency loan to pay its payment processors after missed payments resulted in service outages.

-- The Associated Press

Zillow Group acquiring mortgage lender

Zillow Group Inc. started buying and selling homes this year. Now it plans to write mortgages, too.

The home-listings website operator is acquiring Mortgage Lenders of America, an Overland Park, Kan.-based lender, Zillow said in a statement Monday. The terms of the transaction weren't disclosed.

Zillow has been building out a program in which home sellers can upload information to its website and solicit an offer for their home. After Zillow buys a house, it makes any repairs and lists it on the open market. Offering mortgages is intended to "streamline the process for people who buy a Zillow-owned home," Greg Schwartz, president of media and marketplaces, said in the statement.

The move to extend mortgages mirrors earlier efforts by startups Opendoor and Offerpad, which also use information gathered online to make rapid offers on homes. Both companies are working on ways to make home loans.

-- Bloomberg News

Business on 08/07/2018

Print Headline: Senator: Wisconsin mill bill lacks votes U.S. awards $1M to UA tech park firm Walmart, Gobble team up on meal kits Penner takes post at Mercy Northwest MoviePass plans cap, but no price rise Zillo...


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