World Trade Center Arkansas Receives Nearly $600,000 Economic Development Grant
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – World Trade Center Arkansas, an affiliate of the University of Arkansas that serves as the state’s global business resource, will use a nearly $600,000 grant to expand its outreach services to diversify and strengthen the state’s economy.
The three-year, $597,116 grant is from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, a bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce. It will allow World Trade Center Arkansas’ staff to accompany Arkansas businesses on foreign sales trips and trade missions and cover other related costs that include business-to-business meetings and services through the Gold Key Program of the Commerce Department.
“We are extremely pleased to be awarded this Economic Development Administration grant, which will assist Arkansas companies explore and expand export markets,” said W. Dan Hendrix, president and chief executive officer of World Trade Center Arkansas. “More than 50,000 total jobs in all sectors are supported by exports in Arkansas, including more than 14 percent of manufacturing jobs. Nearly 80 percent of Arkansas exporters are small businesses, which can and will benefit from this grant.”
The key mission of World Trade Center Arkansas is to increase Arkansas-based jobs through trade and encourage strong global partnerships that will grow the state’s businesses, manufacturers, agricultural producers, services and emerging technologies.
The Gold Key Program sets up overseas appointments with prospective trade partners in key industry sectors and assists the trade center in matching companies with buyers, country briefings, embassy receptions and diplomatic meetings. The grant will also offset shipping costs to send products to trade shows or foreign markets and assist the trade center with website updates and market research.
The funding is part of seven grants totaling $7.5 million the Economic Development Administration made to entities in the state to finance projects that will create jobs, promote innovation, increase resiliency to natural disasters and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth. U.S. Sens. Mark Pryor and John Boozman joined U.S. Reps. Steve Womack and Tim Griffin in announcing the grants.
“Infrastructure is the key to economic development and growth throughout Arkansas,” said Boozman, who was instrumental in starting World Trade Center Arkansas. “These grants will help attract businesses to the region, foster growth for existing companies and provide jobs for hardworking Arkansans by expanding and improving infrastructure in our communities.”
In the spring of 2006, Boozman, then a congressman, convened a meeting to discuss the potential for an Arkansas-based organization that would help the state’s business community compete more effectively in the global marketplace. He was interested in replicating World Trade Center Montana, which was embedded within the University of Montana. John A. White, then-chancellor of the U of A, committed to Boozman that the university would establish such a center.
The university became a member of the World Trade Centers Association in October 2006 and World Trade Center Arkansas opened its doors in Rogers in January 2007. The global association includes 300 World Trade Centers in nearly 100 countries.
World Trade Center Arkansas is a non-governmental organization helping Arkansas’ business community compete more effectively in a global market. Its mission is to partner with firms across the state to establish and strengthen their global presence through comprehensive international business services, global connections and professional development and networking events.
The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in a wide spectrum of disciplines; contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research and creative activity; and provides service to academic and professional disciplines and to society in general, all aimed at fulfilling its public land-grant mission to serve Arkansas and beyond as a partner, resource and catalyst. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity.
W. Dan Hendrix, president and CEO
World Trade Center Arkansas
Chris Branam, research communications writer/editor
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