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Flyers at 2 airports down by 1.7 million

The two largest commercial service airports in Arkansas together saw nearly 1.7 million fewer passengers go through their doors through the first 10 months of 2020, according to the latest data.

Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport/Adams Field had 807, 137 passengers arrive and depart through Oct. 31. The figure was down by 1,067,298 -- a drop of almost 57% -- from the 1,874,435 people who went through the terminal in the first 10 months of 2019.

The decline was steeper at Northwest Arkansas National Airport at Highfill. There, 614,662 passengers went through the terminal in the first 10 months of the year, a 60.4% fall from the same period in 2019.

Both airports are struggling to recover from the drop in air travel because of the coronavirus pandemic that began in March, according to last month's numbers.

At Clinton National, 88,115 passengers departed or arrived in October, a 56.3% decrease from the same month in 2019.

Northwest Arkansas National had 65,313 passengers last month, a 63.8% decline from October a year ago.

-- Noel Oman

Startups supporter aims to raise $5M

Bentonville nonprofit Venture Noire is moving into its second fundraising phase as it plans to extend its offerings to more Black and minority-group entrepreneurs.

"By supporting these early stage, diverse entrepreneurs we're helping to level the playing field," Keenan Beasley, founder of Venture Noire, said in a statement.

Its second fundraising cycle aims to raise $5 million, in part to open two groupings made up of as many as 20 startups.

Emma Willis, director of the Heartland region at Venture Noire, said in a statement the two new cohorts will have access to personalized programs and resources and will have the opportunity to showcase their businesses in Bentonville in front of investors and corporations.

Venture Noire's first round was funded by the Walton Foundation, including access to capital, for over 200 Black- and minority-owned businesses around the nation, according to a recent release. Venture Noire has been involved in the distribution of nearly $180,000 in capital.

-- John Magsam

Index hits 465.67 after gain of 3.27

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, closed Thursday at 465.67, up 3.27.

"Equities shrugged off weakness early in the session and closed higher led by the energy and information technology sectors following a report by CNBC that congressional leaders have agreed to resume negotiations on a covid relief bill," said Leon Lants, a managing director at Stephens Inc.

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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