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. ### About Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC): Created in 1955 to make Arkansas more competitive in the post-World War II era, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) seeks to create economic opportunity by attracting higher-paying jobs, expanding and diversifying local economies in the state, increasing incomes and investment, and generating positive growth throughout The Natural State. Arkansas is a pro-business environment operating leaner, faster and more focused through a streamlined state government designed to act on corporate interests quickly and decisively. About World Trade Center Arkansas (WTCAR): The mission of the World Trade Center Arkansas (WTCAR) is to grow trade and increase Arkansas exports by connecting Arkansas businesses to the world through international trade services. The Center is part of the University of Arkansas and serves as the trade promotion arm for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC). For more information and valuable updates, please follow the Center on Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to the WTCAR newsletter.
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World Trade Center intern shares experiences, impact on Gateways Podcast

University of Arkansas graduate Jamie Allen of Little Rock, Ark. shared her experiences and the impact of her work as an intern for the World Trade Center Arkansas on the Gateways Podcast this week.

Jamie Allen served as the World Trade Center Arkansas intern from Fall 2016 to Spring 2018 and contributed to 'historic' projects and initiatives as an intern.

University of Arkansas graduate Jamie Allen of Little Rock, Ark. shared her experiences and the impact of her work as an intern for the World Trade Center Arkansas on the Gateways Podcast this week. Allen graduated this month with a dual degree in international business, marketing and international studies in economic development with a Spanish minor.

She served as the World Trade Center Arkansas intern from Fall 2016 to Spring 2018. You can listen to Allen share her experiences on the Gateways Podcast here.

“Being an intern, I’ve been able to work on projects where I can see the impact and outcomes of my work,” Allen said. “Whether it be providing research for an Arkansas company that wants to trade or working with a foreign diplomat to shape their perceptions of Arkansas and the business that we have here.”

 “One of my favorite projects during my time here was working with Melvin Torres and Fernando Marti, the trade and investment commissioner for ProMexico,” she said. “I was asked to help facilitate his visit here and plan meetings with Arkansas companies and people from different organizations within the state.”

As the lead for this project, Allen set up the tight schedule for this entire mission and coordinated meetings with Arkansas companies and government officials.

“Melvin and ProMexico were both very grateful and saw how much work I was doing and the quality of it that they wanted me to come with them and attend these meetings,” Allen said. “So I got to participate and learn from it, which was amazing because I got to meet with large companies in Arkansas – Walmart, Tyson, J.B. Hunt – as well as people from the Arkansas government, Chamber of Commerce, Governor’s office and more.”

Allen said it was a really special part of her internship to be able to participate in these meetings and be recognized for her work.

“With Jamie’s work and contributions, we were able to strengthen even more the relationship between Arkansas and Mexico, our second largest export partner – a relationship that the Arkansas economy depends on,” said Melvin Torres, Director of Western Hemisphere Trade for the World Trade Center Arkansas.

“Right now, NAFTA is at a critical stage and the future with our state’s most important trading partners is uncertain,” Torres said. “NAFTA supports hundreds of thousands of Arkansas jobs and one third of all Arkansas exports. As a part of this project, Jamie was actually coordinating and contributing to a historical meeting between Arkansas companies and organizations with government officials from Mexico.”

“Furthermore, Jamie was involved in helping to grow the relationship between Arkansas and Argentina. In addition, she presented in our Board of Advisors Meeting on Social Media, PR, and Communications accomplishments during 2017,” Torres said.

Allen’s work as an intern included in-depth research for Arkansas companies seeking to penetrate foreign markets, building and making presentations to global business leaders in Arkansas as well as facilitating trade missions with foreign government officials. The opportunity to work on these types of projects is what interested her in the Center’s internship program.

“I really liked their focus on international trade and helping companies to penetrate new markets and participate in global trade,” she said. “Especially with my degree plan, that was an integral part of my studies and I really wanted an internship that really coincided and help bolster that education process towards my future goals to enter a career that is focused on those things.”

Allen graduated this month from the University of Arkansas and will soon serve in the Peace Corps in Colombia. You can listen to her experiences on the Gateways Podcast here.

The mission of the World Trade Center Arkansas is to grow trade and increase Arkansas exports by connecting Arkansas businesses to the world through international trade services. The Center is part of the University of Arkansas and serves as the trade promotion arm for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. For more information and valuable updates, please follow the Center on Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to the World Trade Center Arkansas newsletter.