The World Trade Center Arkansas (WTCA) recently received almost $600,000 from a federal grant designed to promote trade and encourage job growth and retention in Arkansas.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration awarded the World Trade Center Arkansas a $592,357 grant, which is expected to encourage significant job growth and retention, while also generating private investment and export expansion, in counties impacted by natural disasters.
According to a University of Arkansas press release, the grant is expected to generate $5 million in private investment. Approximately 10,000 new jobs will likely be created as a result of the grant, and 350,000 existing jobs will be kept in state.
World Trade Center Arkansas officials say the funds will be used to aid Arkansas businesses and farmers gain increased access to international markets. Trish Watkins, WTCA assistant director of grants and finance, said, “We can also use the funds for trade missions, educational seminars, market research and to enhance our consultation services that we provide to Arkansas companies.”
Approximately 80 percent of Arkansas exports are agricultural goods and aerospace products, according to the UA press release. Agriculture-dependent regions have been heavily impacted by recent natural disasters, and the grant is aimed at alleviating the burden caused by these disasters.
Over 50 Arkansas counties have been declared disaster zones since 2011 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. These federally recognized disaster zones have been impacted by tornadoes, flooding and other severe weather conditions.
The WTCA grant is part of U.S. Economic Development Administration’s goal of increasing individual states’ ability to conduct trade on an international level. The U.S. Economic Development Administration’s mission is to “promote competitiveness” while “preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy.”