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Governor Asa Hutchinson presented the leaders of six Arkansas companies with the 2022 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Global Trade on Wednesday, October 5. The award ceremony took place following a gala dinner at the Governor’s Mansion, with over 150 people in attendance. Roby Brock of Talk Business & Politics moderated a lively roundtable with Governor Asa Hutchinson and Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. 

Arkansas’ international business profile continues to grow as a result of the companies honored with this award,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “I encourage companies throughout Arkansas to look to the innovative ways in which those awarded are doing business around the world. Support and resources, including the Arkansas District Export Council, are in place to support companies of all sizes interested in exporting.” 

 “These homegrown companies exemplify the diversity and possibilities of the Arkansas economy,” said Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. “We are more connected with our global neighbors than ever before, and it’s great to see that Arkansas has the business climate and entrepreneurial support from organizations like the District Export Council that companies need to succeed on the world stage.” 

We celebrated the following companies who received the 2022 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Global Trade:

Riceland (Stuttgart) – Agricultural Exporter Award

Slim Chickens (Fayetteville) – Franchise Development Exporter Award

Power Technology (Alexander) – Innovation and Impact in Manufacturing Exporter Award

Virco (Conway) – Resilience in Manufacturing Exporter Award

White River Hardwoods-Woodworks (Fayetteville) – Rising Star Exporter Award

SMART Repro (Jonesboro) – Woman Owned Exporter Award


Watch the Ceremony




Freight Industry Update: Concerns of Strike Still on the Horizon

by Michelle Rock,  International Business Development Advisor, AVP


Cell: (972) 896-9427 | SWIFT: ARVTUS44

There has been a lot of buzz surrounding the potential for a strike from railroad worker unions. While it was said that the potential for a strike had been avoided, details of the proposal were released that seem to say otherwise. The pains of inflation, like limited raises and increasing healthcare premiums, were addressed, but according to the New York Times and Mother Jones, the more pressing concern for workers was penalties for sick time in conjunction with little to no time off. The proposal states that workers will be allowed up to three medical visits a year if requested 30 days off in advance. While this may fit the need for routine visits like preventative exams and procedures, it does nothing for unexpected illnesses that you can’t quite plan. Given the release of this new information, it appears we may in fact be full-steam ahead for a strike that will cripple supply chains and cost us billions of dollars a day.


Rudy Ortiz,

Management Consultant,

Strategic Business Services

Mr. Ortiz is former Executive Director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), and the Minority Technical Assistance Center (MTAC) in Corpus Christi, Texas as well as Assistant Director of the Salt Lake Region SBDC in Utah.

He has owned technology and consulting businesses and has 20 years of experience in business consulting and 8 years as an Operations Manager. He has assisted over 1500 clients from the start-up phase to firms in the $20 million revenue range.

He has taught marketing, entrepreneurship and other business topics at conferences, workshops, colleges and universities. He is currently one of only 46 Certified Technology Consultants in the country as well as a Certified Global Business Professional and Certified Incubator Manager. He is an active mentor to Ark Challenge participants and is a judge in the Arkansas Governor’s Cup Business Plan Competition.

He provides consulting and training services in the areas of:

  • Capital Acquisition
  • Financial Analysis
  • Government Contract Procurement
  • International Business
  • Marketing
  • Operations Management
  • Plan Development
  • Technology Commercialization

Rudy serves as the Education Chairman for the Arkansas District Export Council, recruiting speakers and serving as the Moderator for the webinars. He can be reached at rudy@sbs-west.com, cell 501-749-7484.

US Commercial Service Opportunities

Did you know? International travel trade consists of transactions involving goods and services acquired by nonresidents while visiting another country. Non-U.S. residents purchasing goods and services while in the United States is export income for the U.S. economy. Increasing international travel trade is good for the Arkansas economy!

FITUR 2023, January 18-22 in Madrid, Spain is the global meeting point for tourism professionals, where you will have hundreds of opportunities to make contacts, start projects and establish agreements with decision making professionals! Check it out here!

Access ASEAN: Explore Business Opportunities in Southeast Asia and Beyond!

Bangkok, Thailand |  March 13-15, 2023

Join us in Bangkok, Thailand for the largest U.S. government-led trade mission and business development forum. Organized by the U.S. Commercial Service, Trade Winds will feature meetings with U.S. commercial diplomats from over 20 countries in Asia, exciting conference programming, and plenty of networking. The registration fee for the forum is $750 per attendee, and you may qualify for STEP grant funding to cover the fee.

Arkansas exports $5.6 billion in goods around the world and supports 39,000 jobs in the state and nation! Our top three exports are transportation equipment, processed foods and chemicals, primarily to the nations of Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom. 

The mission of the Arkansas District Export Council is to promote and support international trade activities and awareness throughout the State of Arkansas.

Please feel free to contact us with your questions and suggestions:

Heidi Whitman, Administrative Coordinator

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