Hobby Lobby will became the first retailer in the country to raise its minimum full-time hourly wage to $17. The increase takes effect Oct. 1.

The retailer, based in Oklahoma City, has a store at 1315 S. Range Line Road in Joplin.

In a statement Monday, the company said it was one of the first retailers to establish a nationwide minimum hourly wage above the federal minimum wage and has raised its minimum wages ten times over the last eleven years. In 2014, Hobby Lobby raised its full-time minimum hourly wage to $15 an hour.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour; the Missouri minimum wage is $9.45 an hour, except for exempted businesses. Missouri voters in 2018 passed a statewide referendum raising the hourly minimum wage each year until it hits $12 in 2023.

“We have always worked hard to be a retail leader when it comes to taking care of our people,” Hobby Lobby founder and CEO David Green said in a statement. “From closing our stores on Sundays and at 8 p.m. the rest of the week, to providing some of the best pay and benefits in the retail industry, we are thankful that we are able to share our success with our valued employees and provide time for rest, family and worship."

He added: “Because this year has presented so many challenges to our employees, we are very happy that we are able to provide pay increases to thousands of our associates before the Christmas season."

Hobby Lobby was founded in 1972 and operates 923 retail stores.

Walmart construction focuses on sustainability

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — As Walmart continues work on a new home office complex, it has announced that more than 95% of the demolished materials from previous buildings will be diverted from landfills. That includes:

• Concrete will be repurposed for other building projects, such as forming the base material for a parking lot.

• Structural steel will be melted and repurposed.

• Freon used for the heating and cooling systems will be extracted and put in a refrigeration bank for later use.

Walmart is building more than 20 new headquarters buildings on 350 acres of land on the east side of J Street between Central Avenue and 14th Street (Highway 102). The goal is to open the campus in phases between 2020 and 2024.

Walmart has not released a cost estimate, however, saying the project will encompass multiple budget years, but the retailer said it could be considered the “largest capital improvement project” in the history of Arkansas.

It has been estimated that 15,000 people will work at the new headquarters complex.

Freeman announces new dermatologist

Dr. Ahmed Badawi has joined the Freeman Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center.

He will focus on skin cancer prevention and work with Freeman Health System oncologists. The plan is to bring procedures not currently offered in Joplin for all patients so they don’t need to travel to metropolitan areas for various treatments.

Badawi went to medical school at the University of Kansas School of Medicine and did his dermatology residency at Washington University in St. Louis, where he served as chief resident.

He has experience in biologic therapy for psoriasis, eczema and other skin ailments, involving drug development for autoimmune diseases. That expertise is helpful in his treatment of all skin diseases, especially for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and anyone else who needs immune-suppressing medications, which can have side effects on the skin.