Gov. Asa Hutchinson met with members of the media today to discuss his upcoming trip to France and Germany to lure businesses to the state.
Hutchinson, along with a team from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, aerospace companies and others, travel to Paris on Saturday, June 13 for the Paris Air Show, the largest aviation and aerospace trade show in the world. Arkansas has a booth at the show where state officials will meet with international aerospace companies in an attempt to attract them to Arkansas.
Aerospace is Arkansas’ top export, accounting for about a quarter of all of the state’s exports and totaling $1.6 billion in 2014.
On June 16, Hutchinson will travel to Germany where he will attend the METEC International Metallurgical Trade Fair in Dusseldorf, an event for the steel industry featuring more than 480 exhibitors from 33 countries. He’ll also meet with representatives from German software company SAP.
While in Europe, Hutchinson said he has formal meetings scheduled with 17 companies, and will make contact with 15 to 20 more. He said the majority of the companies are new prospects for Arkansas, but he would not identify the specific companies. He said his group is also hosting a dinner for the Arkansas-based companies.
“I want to make sure they know Arkansas is open for business,” Hutchinson said at the news conference.
“I think it is very important for the goveror of this state to compete with other states in bringing business to this state, showcasing Arkansas, talking about what we’re doing in the steel industry, aerodefencse and agriculture as well as in the retail world.”
The goal, Hutchinson said, is to expand existing companies in the state and recruit new ones.
While in Europe, Hutchinson said he also plans to meet with officials at Lockeed Martin. Earlier this month, a special legislative session provided $87 million in incentives for the company to expand its Camden plant, pending its receipt of the U.S. Department of Defense contract. Read more here.
Hutchinson said he plans to tout the benefits of Arkansas while in Europe, including workforce initiatives and the state’s coding and computer science education initiatives. He said he also plans to showcase the state’s potential for becoming a “micro hub for technological investment.”
“We have a good story to tell,” he said. “These are great opportunities to really introduce myself as governor to the leading executives in the aerodefence and the steel industry that have great opportunity in this state and opportunity for expansion.”
Hutchinson said he has no planned announcements when he returns from Europe, but there will likely be some “down the road.”