2021 Governor’s Award Winners

The Arkansas District Export Council has announced six winners of the 2021 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Global Trade, ranging from a leather dog collar manufacturer in Conway to a global provider of high-quality vehicle accessories located in Springdale. 

The 2021 winning companies were selected on a more challenging basis than years past. This year, we recognized exporters who through the innovative and thoughtful development of the export market were able to successfully overcome the economic impacts of the 2020 pandemic and retain at least 95% of their workforce. 

The awards were presented at a gala banquet on Wednesday, October 13, at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock, with the Governor and First Lady in attendance. Over 120 business leaders and government dignitaries celebrated at this exciting event to recognize the exporting excellence and successes among Arkansas’ small, medium, and large enterprises. The Governor presented each company with a trophy and certificate during the awards ceremony.  

Also speaking was Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston, who praised the tenacity of the state’s economy, saying, “If people didn’t understand the importance of trade before this pandemic, hopefully it has opened their eyes to just how important it is and really what it means to our state.””Most people, when you talk about Arkansas, they don’t think of us as a big trading state, but we are,” Preston added. “We’re dependent upon trade in so many sectors. People don’t realize the power we have across the country, across the world. When we go meet with [other countries] people are going to know about Arkansas because there is a good chance they have done business with someone in Arkansas.”

Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston

Governor Asa Hutchinson congratulated the winning companies for their “innovation and entrepreneurship,” which he said has made Arkansas “a special place in the global marketplace.” The Governor also addressed the current supply chain and workforce issues brought on by the pandemic that are dominating the country. “We’re in a transition, and we need to do everything we can to accelerate the movement of our workforce back to employment.” He continued, “Not withstanding these challenges that we face, we are through your efforts, expanding our markets and innovating and making sure our market share continues to grow.”

Governor Asa Hutchinson

Hutchinson also issued congratulations following the event, stating, “The companies such as the six winners of this year’s Governor’s Export Awards give me plenty to brag about when I tell others about Arkansas. They not only took care of business during the global health crisis, they took care of their employees. The entrepreneurial and can-do spirit as well as a resolve to look out for one another is in our DNA. COVID-19 brought out the best in Arkansans and was on full display in the leadership of these six companies.”

 The 2021 Governor’s Export Award winners are: 

Many thanks to Lindsey Castrellon for the article in Arkansas Money & Politics

Photo credits to Austin Castrellon