Export Council pays tribute to state-owned enterprises that survived covid pandemic


After more than a decade of recognizing exporters primarily for their success in trade-related activities, this year the Arkansas District Export Council rewards companies for innovative approaches implemented to survive the pandemic.

Last week, the 2021 Governor’s Export Awards went to companies that have survived the economic effects of the pandemic and retained at least 95% of their workforce. The export awards were presented by Governor Asa Hutchinson to the winning companies in the large, medium and small categories.

Brazilian steel producer Gerdau, which has a manufacturing facility in Fort Smith, won the large business category. The company has facilities in 10 countries and its operations in North America serve the agriculture, energy, industrial, automotive and manufacturing sectors.

Alliance Rubber Co. has been producing rubber bands at its Hot Springs plant since 1923. The company, recognized as the leading exporter in the medium-sized business category, sells its products in more than 55 countries.

North Little Rock-based Ecojohn has been making waste management products – purpose-built toilets – for more than 30 years for off-grid sites that include cabins, guesthouses and RVs. Its products include waterless incinerating toilets and wastewater incinerators that eliminate the need for a septic tank or emptying black water tanks. The company was recognized as the state’s leading small business exporter.

Like most industries, the exporting community suffered from the 2020 pandemic as goods shipped overseas declined in all but two states – New Jersey and Oregon.

Census Bureau data shows Arkansas exports declined nearly 17% from 2019 to 2020, with total exports declining to nearly $ 5.2 billion. Weapons-related products – planes, engines and parts at the top of the list – remained the state’s main export, while rice was next. The first five were supplemented by chemical wood pulp, eggs and frozen poultry.

Arkansas isn’t alone in exporting planes – this was the most common export category in the United States, as 17 states had their largest exports from this group.

The Arkansas World Trade Center in Rogers reports that the state has exported more than $ 68 billion in merchandise since 2008 and that 350,000 jobs in Arkansas are supported by commerce.

In the United States, an estimated $ 1.43 trillion in goods was exported last year, and Texas was by far the largest state with nearly $ 280 billion in goods exported, or about 20% of the country’s total. .

Canada and Mexico are the two main export destinations for goods produced in Arkansas and the country.

The top exporting companies to the United States in 2020 were ExxonMobil, Apple, Ford Motor Co., Chevron, and General Motors.

At last week’s awards show, Leather Brothers Inc., which produces pet collars in Conway, was recognized as a rising star; Lycus Ltd., a chemical plant in El Dorado, won the Resilience in Manufacturing award; and Chandler Equipment, a producer of fertilizer, seed and rock spreaders in Springdale, was recognized for its innovation in manufacturing.

Members of the Arkansas District Export Council are appointed by the US Secretary of Commerce. The council is a non-profit organization run by exporters and business leaders who regularly provide support services to exporting companies.


The US Small Business Administration is promoting its low-interest disaster loans as a financial solution for businesses still seeking economic relief from the ongoing pandemic, now that the Check Protection Program agency payroll is complete.

The Economic Disaster Loan Program offers long-term, low-interest loans that can be used as working capital to cover operating expenses, including salaries, rent or mortgage, utilities and other daily business expenses. Loans can also be used to pay off debts.

Arkansans interested in the program can attend an information webinar at 3 p.m. Tuesday to learn more about the initiative.

Earlier this month, the SBA raised the loan limit and borrowers can now apply for up to $ 2 million. The 30-year loans have a fixed interest rate of 3.75% for businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits. Payments can be deferred for the first two years, but interest will be charged.

Security is required for loans over $ 25,000 and personal security is required for borrowing over $ 250,000. The deadline to apply for a loan is December 31 or earlier if funds are depleted. For more information or to apply, visit sba.gov.


Learn more about protecting your IT infrastructure from cybersecurity attacks at a Friday noon seminar, available through Little Rock Venture Center.

Cyber ​​experts Chris Wright and Bob East of Sullivan Wright Technologies of Little Rock will lead the session.

The program will offer guidance to entrepreneurs, business leaders and the investment community and is part of Cyber ​​Security Awareness Month, which is a national effort to increase security against online attacks.

IBM reports that the average cost to businesses of a single cybersecurity breach in 2020 was $ 3.86 million and the cost of business lost due to a data breach was $ 1.52 million.

More information about the session is available at venturecenter.co.


Three experts from a nationally recognized organization that promotes fairness in the workplace will host a half-day seminar on October 27 to help Arkansas business leaders set up diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

The in-person session, sponsored by the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the school’s office at 702 SE Fifth St. in Bentonville.

Seminar facilitators will provide insight on how to continue the momentum of a diversity, equity and inclusion program after its initial implementation.

The interactive session will use the people, processes and power framework of the Ideas Institute, known as P3, to help leaders identify ways to integrate the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion. in current practices and daily interactions with colleagues and key stakeholders.

The session costs $ 325 and is part of the university’s executive education efforts. For more information or to register, visit execed.uark.edu.

Ideas for columns or recommendations? Any thoughts or reflections to pursue? Contact me at [email protected] or at (501) 378-3567.

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