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Governor Announces Trip to Israel, France, Germany

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Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Mike Preston, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, said they will travel to Israel, France and Germany from June 17-24 on an economic mission.

The two made the announcement in a press conference at the state capitol Wednesday.

They and staff members plan to meet with officials and at least 20 companies with the goal of attracting jobs to the state and retaining them.

This is their sixth international economic mission, which will also include Hutchinson’s first visit to Israel.

Hutchinson and Preston emphasized at the conference that Israel, like Arkansas, has a growing technology sector and the need to market the state to businesses there. They are also interested in Israel’s defense sector.

The governor said the consul general, on a previous trip to Little Rock, invited him to Israel. He told reporters it made sense to take advantage of that invitation now, while he and Preston will be in Europe.

No Israeli companies currently have operations in the state.

In addition to past visits to European countries, Hutchinson and Preston have traveled to China, Cuba and Japan.

The first stop on this trip will be the Paris Air Show. The governor will meet with several prospective companies about the strength of the state’s aerospace sector. There are 13 French-owned companies with 25 locations in Arkansas that currently employ 3,700 people.

The officials will then travel to Germany to speak with companies that have a presence in the state. Hutchinson said at the conference that he and Preston will follow up on leads with prospective companies that the AEDC’s office in Berlin has generated.

Hutchinson said they will meet with the parent company of Little Rock’s Dassault Falcon Jet Corp., which announced layoffs last month.

Germany has the greatest presence concerning total operations in Arkansas, where 23 German-owned companies have 34 locations and employ 1,600 people.

Hutchinson reiterated that foreign direct investment jobs in Arkansas have grown by more than 41 percent over the last five years, and that building relationships on these trips have resulted in several big jobs announcements. “The results have far exceeded expectations,” said Hutchinson.

Asked about President Donald Trump’s views on trade with Cuba, Hutchinson said the first step to selling Arkansas rice and other agricultural products to the country is to level the playing field by allowing credit-supported deals. Cash-only contracts only are allowed now.

Hutchinson said that puts the state at a competitive disadvantage with other countries that export rice and other goods.

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