ROGERS — Two of the World Trade Center Arkansas’ export partners are finalists for the 33rd annual Arkansas Business of the Year Awards.
Rock Town Distillery in Little Rock and CAT Squared in Conway are nominated in Category I and Category II, respectively. The categories are determined by number of employees. Category I includes business with 1-30 employees while category II consists of companies with 31-55 employees.
Johnelle Hunt, our partner and a sustaining member of the Center, will also be recognized with an award for Legacy of Leadership. Johnelle Hunt helped her husband, Johnnie Bryant Hunt, build and expand J.B. Hunt Transport Services, which is now one of the world’s largest trucking companies. She is active in several commercial developments in Rogers and a tireless philanthropist.
Rock Town Distillery was founded in 2010 by Phil Brandon. Located in Downtown Little Rock, the artisan craft distillery was the first of its kind in Arkansas since Prohibition, according to its website. The distillery, which has won international awards for its products, uses corn, wheat and rye grown within a 125-mile radius to create its spirits.
Last spring, Rock Town Distillery received recognition from President Donald Trump for helping battle the COVID-19 pandemic. The company produced hand sanitizer that was 70 percent alcohol, according to Arkansas Money & Politics.
The Center incorporated the distillery’s new product into a comprehensive webpage dedicated to Arkansas companies that were creating supplies to fight the pandemic.
CAT Squared is a software company that focuses on food traceability. Founded in 1995 and based in Conway, CAT Squared has customers across six continents.The company “specializes in innovative software solutions designed specifically for the food industry including beef, pork, chicken, turkey, seafood, produce, primary processing, and further processing and handling plants,” according to its website.
The company’s software offers “real-time” data collection and reporting, which improve operations flow, increase yield and throughput, and measurably reduce costs.”
Through assistance from the Center, CAT Squared received funding via the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant to help cover travel costs to trade shows in the U.S. and Latin America. The company said the trade shows generated approximately $1.5 million in revenue.
The STEP program, implemented by the Small Business Administration in 2011, is a trade and export initiative with objectives to increase the number of small businesses that are exporting and to increase the value of exports for those small businesses that are currently exporting.
The Center secures funding for eligible Arkansas companies. The awards fund export initiatives such as inbound and outbound trade missions, trade shows and exhibitions, consulting, web translations and more. For more information on applying for funds, contact Trish Watkins, our STEP Grant director.
Arkansas Business will announce the winners March 3 in a “one-of-a-kind, multi-platorom awards ceremony with live audiences and two stages inside the Robinson Center ballroom and the DoubleTree Hotel in Little Rock.” To view a full list of this year’s honorees, click 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.