The World Trade Center Arkansas (WTCAR) is expanding its partnership with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) with a new work space at the state agency’s offices in Little Rock.
“Trade is vitally important for Arkansas,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson. “Increasing exports of Arkansas products strengthens our economy, grows Arkansas business, and creates new employment opportunities for Arkansans. This new expansion between AEDC and the World Trade Center Arkansas will ensure that our state’s flagship trade promotion agency is further empowered to help our companies gain access to the global market.”
Launched in 2007, the Center was established at the University of Arkansas (UA) to help companies in the state access global markets through comprehensive trade promotion services such as market research, consultation, foreign trade mission participation, and business-to-business meetings.
The Center builds upon the efforts of its partners – Hunt Ventures, AEDC, City of Rogers, UA and Office of the Governor – to bring together businesses and government agencies in growing international trade and strengthening the worldwide presence of Arkansas.
“Trade plays an integral role in our economy and is critical to economic development,” said AEDC Executive Director Mike Preston. “More than 350,000 jobs in Arkansas are supported by trade and foreign investment, and companies in trade-related industries tend to pay higher than those that are not.”
The new office will allow the Center increased access to the entire state as it seeks to improve foreign market access and trade development, WTCAR officials said.
“We offer our services to companies throughout the entire state,” said Dan Hendrix, president and CEO of WTCAR. “This new office in Little Rock will help increase our effectiveness to serve clients statewide and will initially be manned by existing, rotating trade staff.”
Most exporting companies in Arkansas are small businesses, and the top markets are Canada, Mexico, France, China and the United Kingdom. The state’s largest exporting industries are agriculture, aerospace, and transportation equipment, which combined contributed to nearly half of the $6.3 billion dollars in exports in 2017. Total exported goods and services since 2007 have reached $84 billion.
The Center also builds commercial diplomacy through its regular work with officials, diplomats and business leaders from foreign countries to find opportunities for Arkansas businesses. The Center’s trade directors actively advocate on behalf of exporting Arkansas companies to officials on all levels of government. Several special guests were on hand, including Japan External Trade Organization CEO Toshinaga Hirai and Lenka Horakova, Arkansas District Export Council chairman and Honorary Consulate General of the Czech Republic.
The opening of the new office coincides with the International Trade Administration’s official World Trade Month throughout May. The Center will be participating with multiple trade promotion events throughout the month such as the Trade With Africa Business Summit and the Governor’s Awards For Excellence in Global Trade.