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Trade director honored for decade of service

Denise Thomas speaks in a meeting with Belorussian economic developers in the Mogilev region.

Denise Thomas speaks in a meeting with Belorussian economic developers in the Mogilev region.

Denise Thomas, director of Africa and Middle East Trade for the World Trade Center Arkansas will be honored for a decade of service at the University of Arkansas, working at the World Trade Center Arkansas. Thomas will be honored at the University’s annual employee service awards banquet on Tuesday, October 10, 2017.

Thomas joined the World Trade Center Arkansas team in 2007 as the Center was launched. She initially served as director of external relations and marketing but as the Center evolved over the decade, so did Thomas’ role into director of Africa and Middle East Trade.

“I’m very thankful to be a member of the World Trade Center family where I can bring people together to accomplish a greater goal,” Thomas said. “Often we encounter small businesses in Arkansas and abroad that have a fantastic vision to create ways where they can improve the lives of other people. I’ve been blessed to work with a team that helps make these visions a reality.”

Thomas draws upon her diverse experience in international marketing and business development to promote trade for Arkansas companies. By developing relationships with diplomats, business and government leaders, she is able to grow commercial diplomacy between Arkansas and other countries.

“Denise has a strong gift to build and harness the power of relationships to increase our clients’ bottom lines and grow trade for the state,” said Dan Hendrix, President and CEO of the World Trade Center Arkansas. “This has made her a sought-after expert. She was recently a speaker on government and institutional support for women at the 6th Global Economic Summit in Mumbai, India.

“She was also a member of the governor’s panel at the Corporate Council on Africa’s annual Africa Business Summit,” he said. “She shared the panel with the mayor Johannesburg and a Kenyan governor but more importantly she also used that opportunity to initiate a new relationship between Arkansas and South Africa.

In addition to these opportunities with Europe, Thomas has been instrumental in developing Arkansas’ new relationship with Belarus, after the Center received an inbound delegation from the country in May 2017.

Thomas’ career in economic development began in 1989 at the Jacksonville, Florida Chamber of Commerce. She created the Small Business Center with the Small Business Administration BIC. When she moved to Northwest Arkansas, she served as a senior recruiter at Walmart until she came to the World Trade Center Arkansas in 2007.

She actively promotes trade for Arkansas through public speaking engagements in the U.S. and abroad and facilitates discussions on global opportunities at colleges, universities and companies. She is an expert on global team building, strategic partnerships, negotiations and leadership where she facilitates business to business partnerships to promote bilateral trade and educational exchange for Arkansas.

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. For more information and valuable updates, please follow the Center on Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to the World Trade Center Arkansas newsletter.