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Grant aids Jonesboro in $3M rail project

Jonesboro will spend up to $3 million in federal and local money to build a rail spur to increase delivery and storage capacity for businesses in the Jonesboro Industrial Park and Craighead Technology Park.

The project will add side rails for parallel track storage and relocate a switch away from Commerce Drive, which will be widened to five lanes under an Arkansas Department of Transportation project, according to a news release from the city.

The money comes from a $2.3 million grant by the Federal Rail Administration's Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements program. Under the terms of the grant, the city will provide an additional $400,000, and another $250,000 will come from the Jonesboro Economic Development Corp.

"This is a great award for us because our industrial park is already congested with rail cars," Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said in the news release.

The grant came after a study found that rail-car congestion created concerns about capacity and safety within the industrial park.

Perrin credited civic leaders as well as members of the state's congressional delegation for securing the grant.

-- Noel Oman

Charity's funds back anti-trafficking work

The Walmart Foundation is giving $3 million to a nonprofit organization that fights human trafficking, a Walmart Inc. spokesman confirmed Tuesday. This is the third grant the Bentonville-based retailer's charitable arm has given the International Justice Mission to address the use of slave labor in Thailand's fishing industry, the spokesman said.

The foundation gave the organization $785,000 in fiscal 2015. That grant funded a survey of migrant fishermen who worked on Thai fishing boats, and it uncovered patterns of abuse and exploitation, a news release stated.

A grant of just over $2 million in fiscal 2017, along with a U.S. State Department grant, helped start a long-term regional anti-trafficking program. The program includes work in Cambodia and Burma, where migrant workers are sold to owners of Thai fishing vessels.

The new funding will help continue cross-border law enforcement and prosecution efforts, the release said.

-- Serenah McKay

Index picks up 1.47, closes day at 406.51

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, closed Tuesday at 406.51, up 1.47.

"Wall Street's obsession over trade minutiae continued as U.S. stocks lost some ground with worries about the U.S.-China trade war flaring up and the excitement over the U.S.-Mexico deal fading," said Chris Harkins, managing director at Raymond James & Associates in Little Rock.

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

Business on 06/12/2019

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