The U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration has awarded the World Trade Center Arkansas of Rogers a $592,357 grant to promote export expansion, job growth and job retention in 57 Arkansas counties affected by natural disasters.
In a news release, the WTC said the money is expected to spur $5 million in private investment, create 10,000 new jobs and help retain 350,000 jobs in Arkansas supported by international trade.
"We commend the World Trade Center Arkansas for helping to create economic opportunity through the promotion of international trade and business," Dennis Alvord, deputy assistant secretary for regional development at the Economic Development Administration, said. "This project will help expand Trade Center programs to help diversify the state’s economy."
Trish Watkins, the WTC's assistant director of grants and finance, said the center will use the money to help Arkansas businesses and agricultural producers expand their foreign market access.
"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," she said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has declared dozens of Arkansas counties as federally recognized disaster zones on multiple occasions due to weather such as tornadoes and flooding since 2011. Many of the regions that were declared disaster zones rely heavily on agriculture as their primary economic driver.
"This grant allows us to provide a great resource to Arkansas companies, especially small businesses, that have been burdened by disaster recovery," said Dan Hendrix, president and CEO of the World Trade Center Arkansas.