During the Arkansas 2020 Small, Minority and Women-Owned Virtual Matchmaking Event Sept. 17, businesses can attend 15-minute matchmaking meetings that will offer networking opportunities that could lead to contracts. In 2017, the state announced a 15 percent spending target for businesses owned by minority groups, women and service-disabled veterans.

In today's edition of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal Report, Paul Gatling speaks with Graham Cobb, the president and CEO of the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce, about a virtual pitch competition with a focus on minority business owners.

Courtesy / YouTube

The Arkansas Ready for Business program ran into issues from the start when Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Commerce Secretary Mike Preston announced the initiative on April 29. The website for the program went live before the initial funding got approval from the Arkansas Legislative Council and the money ran out in under an hour leading some to speculate about the fairness of the process. Republican lawmakers questioned Preston Friday and on Monday, the Democratic Party of Arkansas called for a bipartisan investigation.

Courtesy / The Geek Realms

In the latest installment of the "Business As Unusual" series, which examines how niche businesses in the region are weathering the pandemic, we speak with the owner of The Geek Realms in Fayetteville about the many ways she's adapted her business to make it through the coronavirus outbreak.

Courtesy / Pure Joy Ice Cream

Ozarks at Large is lauching a series of reports called "Business As Unusual" about how niche businesses in the region are weathering the pandemic. We launch the series by speaking with the owner of Pure Joy Ice Cream in Siloam Springs to find out how he's adapted his business from scooping ice cream at the shop to delivering it to people's doors in a yellow van.

Courtesy / Mockingbird Kitchen

Since the first and second rounds of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program were approved by the U.S. Congress in the federal CARES Act, thousands of business owners and bankers have been working their way through the ins and outs of the forgivable loans. Despite some infrastructure pitfalls, the people we spoke with say the program is doing what it was designed to do in helping businesses stay afloat.

Courtesy / Kiva

Startup Junkie, in partnership with the Walton Family Foundation, has launched a Northwest Arkansas Kiva hub. Kiva is an international crowdsourcing nonprofit that connects entrepreneurs and small business owners who don't qualify for traditional bank loans with lenders from around the world.

From the Senate to the Arkansas' jobless rate, Roby Brock has the latest from the state capitol in this week's Talk Business and Politics Update.