AEDC Moves Its Focus to Quality

by Mark Hengel  on Monday, May. 11, 2009 12:00 am  

Maria Haley: The goal of the AEDC ?is to work together to provide the services that businesses need.?

“This does not necessarily create news because the news is always in a major announcement or retention,” Haley said.

Haley pointed to the development of the Arkansas Aerospace Alliance, headed by the AEDC’s Robin Pelton. The alliance has worked with aerospace companies in Arkansas to meet the needs of Arkansas largest industry in terms of exports. The alliance worked with Dassault Falcon Jet and Hawker Beechcraft Corp., both of which operate private jet completion centers at the Little Rock National Airport, to develop training programs at local two-year colleges.Our goal “is to work together to provide the services that businesses need,” Haley said.

The Recession
Despite the recent economic downturn, the AEDC continues to cultivate contacts and search for opportunities to grow business in the state.

“It doesn’t stop just because the economy is down,” Haley said. “In fact, this is the time for us to be more aggressive.”About one month ago, AEDC officials visited both Europe and China, Haley said. The officials met with companies and pitched Arkansas as a possible site for businesses, she said. Two weeks after the overseas excursions, a contingent of AEDC officials, including Haley, jetted to Chicago for an event.

“Next week we are going to have a major event in Chicago, and we are trying to be ready for when the economy will be back up,” Haley said. “We want to be constantly in front of site selection authorities. We want Arkansas to be a player.”

Recruiting companies to Arkansas is much like sales. And sales are about connections and relationships, Haley said.

“We are not only developing the connections; it is constantly nurturing those contacts,” Haley said.

Contacts are one thing Haley has brought with her to the AEDC. When asked about her acquaintances, Haley balked at answering the question, believing it to be presumptuous. After Joe Holmes, the AEDC’s marketing and communications manager, assured her the question was not, she answered obliquely.

“My international background has given me the resources to fulfill my job,” Haley said.

Haley worked in the White House under President Bill Clinton and was a senior direct at Kissinger McLarty Associates of Washington, D.C., an international economic development firm.

Her connections include Arkansans with whom she remained in contact during her Washington days, many contacts throughout the United States and many beyond the nation’s borders.

“I pick up the telephone and I call,” Haley said. “And if I need something from Asia, they help me. Sometimes getting the right information is helpful.”



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