Radio Column

Asa Arkansas's Governor

Selling Arkansas to the World

06/12/2015

Column Transcript

A few weeks ago, I was in Silicon Valley in California. Last week, I was in Newport and Batesville. Saturday, I leave for Paris and Germany.

The locations change but the business remains the same — economic development for Arkansas.

Jobs.

In 2015, we have to be a national and global competitor. And to compete on a national and global level, we have to market Arkansas at every opportunity. That means being there.

Our work doesn’t end at the state’s borders. So next week, a team from the Governor’s office, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and other partners will attend the Paris Air Trade Show and the METEC trade fair that focuses on steel technology in Dusseldorf, Germany.

I’ll be the first Arkansas Governor to attend both of these major international trade shows. This is a reflection of the way we have to do business — and attract business — in the 21st Century.

Our objective at both places is the same: to meet with prospective companies and with existing, foreign-owned companies in Arkansas to further develop relationships for potential expansions.

Arkansas has strong business ties to both countries. There are 24 German-owned companies with 39 locations accounting for more than 1,700 jobs here in the Natural State. We are also home to 12 French-owned companies with 25 locations and some 3,700 employees.

Most folks know about Arkansas’s growing aerospace industry and connection to France through Dassault Falcon.

But did you realize that Arkansas is becoming a national leader in the steel industry? Mississippi County is one of the largest steel-producing counties in America, and job growth in the steel industry in Arkansas has increased by some 40 percent over just the last five years.

At the trade fair in Germany, we’ll meet with steel-technology companies from all over the world. We’ll get the word out about Arkansas and steel.

On this business trip, as on any other, we’re marketing Arkansas. We’re sowing seeds and competing for future business and jobs. The connections we make next week could pay dividends down the road for years to come.

I won’t be the only Governor of a state in France and Germany next week. At least five other governors are expected at the trade shows. But our presence puts us in the best possible position to compete.

And while I won’t be the only governor there, I will be the only Governor there from Arkansas. Which means I’ll be the only Governor who can tell Arkansas’s unique story. I’d say that puts us at an advantage before I even step on the plane.