Consul General of The Bahamas in Atlanta Astra Armbrister-Rolle visited Northwest Arkansas leaders in business and education from Feb. 6-8, 2019 to strengthen ties between The Bahamas and the United States. This was Armbrister-Rolle’s first visit Northwest Arkansas which falls under the Consulate General in Atlanta’s jurisdiction in addition to nine other states throughout the United States.
The visit was coordinated by officials from the World Trade Center Arkansas and leadership from the University of Arkansas Graduate School and International Education.
Director of Graduate School and International Education Lynn Mosesso coordinated Armbrister-Rolle’s visits with Bahamian students and University personnel.
Trade Support Assistant Matthew Guzak and Director of Western Hemisphere Trade Melvin Torres coordinated meetings with executives at Arkansas businesses like Tyson Foods Inc. to meet with the Consul General.
Goals of the Visit
“The goal from the start was for the Consul General to get connected with Bahamian students at the University of Arkansas as well as Bahamians in the area,” Guzak said. “This can benefit Arkansas companies because The Bahamas wants to increase economic opportunities and find new ways to ship their products faster and cheaper. Bahamian students who enter the workforce can also help Arkansas companies not only diversify their work force but also expand into foreign markets like The Bahamas.”
Guzak is a junior finance major from the Sam M. Walton College of Business. In addition to this, he and Torres met with Armbrister-Rolle to discuss exports, trade and World Trade Center initiatives as well as the business environment in Northwest Arkansas.
Guzak produced briefing materials and coordinated the meetings with executives at Tyson Foods. Guzak said his work on this initiative helped him gain a new perspective on the Bahamas.
“The Bahamas isn’t just sand and sea, rather, it is one of the key power players economically in the Caribbean,” he said. “I was able to learn what trade policies they are actively pursuing both domestically and internationally in places like Arkansas. Meeting with current Bahamian students at the University helped me understand the types of successes and experiences they are having as students in Arkansas.”
Meetings with the University & the NWA Community
Mosesso and University staff in the Graduate School and International Education also arranged numerous visits and events for Armbrister-Rolle to meet with University staff, professors, sports teams and Bahamian students.
In these meetings, Armbrister-Rolle concentrated on promoting increased education opportunities for Bahamians in higher education, improving health and diet and engaging Bahamian expatriates. Her economic concentrations focused on growing a services-based economy in The Bahamas, lowering the cost of shipping and attracting Bahamian talent.
In addition to meeting with World Trade Center officials, Armbrister-Rolle also met with Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse and visited the Springdale Chamber of Commerce during the weekly Morning Brew event to meet local businesses. Armbrister-Rolle also met with multiple deans, professors and students at the University of Arkansas, including Bahamian students and Northwest Arkansas Community members on the evening of Feb. 6.
“The visit of the Consul General of the Bahamas in Atlanta emphasizes the importance of the Caribbean for Arkansas and within the Western Hemisphere,” Torres said. “This type of commercial diplomacy mission helps Arkansas grow trade with other countries.”
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.