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AADA WhyArkansas AerospaceAerospace consistently ranks as one of Arkansas’ top exports, accounting for more than $1.8 billion. Commercial airports generate about $2 billion to the state’s economy each year, and general aviation creates an economic impact on Arkansas of almost $500 million annually. There are currently about 180 aviation and aerospace-related companies in the state.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is the “jobs” Governor. He has promoted Aerospace and Defense throughout the country and around the globe. More and more industries, including aerospace and defense sectors are looking to Arkansas for supplier network growth and relocation. The governor has pursued a pro-business, pro-growth agenda through regulatory and tax reform. 

What makes Arkansas a good candidate for Aerospace? First, our location is ideal.  We are well positioned to supply aerospace and defense corridor stretching from Texas to Iowa. We also have a quality workforce and a governor committed to improving training and education opportunities for Arkansans.   

A very strong aerospace and defense base already exists in Arkansas, as well, and is positioned for growth.  Dassault Falcon Jet anchors a large business jet cluster in Central Arkansas, and projects are showing growth prospects for 2018. The Camden area is home to many defense contractors that are also well positioned to grow with the recent investment in our military infrastructure at the national level. 

The economic impact of the aerospace and defense industries in the state is great. The Little Rock Air Force Base is the fourth-largest employer in Arkansas and has a local economic impact of more than $813 million each year. More than 3,400 indirect jobs have been created as a result of LRAFB, paying an average of $42,000 per year. In addition, approximately 57,000 military retirees and their dependents utilize LRAFB services.

“The nation’s military presence in Arkansas through our bases and our defense contractors plays a vital role in the economic stability of our state,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “We have several groups around the state who have an interest in seeing our military prosper, and this pro-active initiative will allow us to combine our strengths and pursue common objectives and opportunities. I’m proud of the steering committee we’ve assembled and challenge them with directing this initiative successfully.”

The Pine Bluff Arsenal provides specialized equipment and critical manufacturing capability to the Department of Defense and military allies. The Arsenal currently employs about 727 personnel with a $60 million annual payroll and $23 million annual procurement impact. As servicemen leave the military, they are a ready workforce looking for careers within Arkansas.

We still have work to do with our tax code to become more competitive with our neighbors, but the governor is moving us in that direction. Arkansas has consistently been recognized as a state with low costs of doing business. Governor Hutchinson is working to lower business taxes, reduce regulations, and increase the speed to market by cutting permitting time. This helping to grow new sectors and expand traditional ones.

To help Arkansas flourish, Governor Asa Hutchinson created a statewide initiative specifically to support and promote the state’s military installations and related economic development interests. The Governor’s Military Affairs Committee brings together public and private leaders around the state who advocate for Arkansas on a national level to accomplish short and long-term defense strategies. The Arkansas Economic Development Commission has a Military Affairs Director, currently held by Co. (Ret.) Robert A. Ator II, to also aid these efforts.

As the state’s aerospace industry continues to grow, Arkansas will need a well-trained workforce to support it. This includes engineers, technicians, skilled machinists, and craftsmen, all of which are high-paying jobs that will raise the per-capita wage and provide more tax revenue. In addition, the aerospace industry attracts businesses of all sizes, large and small, to provide both direct and indirect jobs to the industry. The growth in good paying jobs in Arkansas means an increase in the quality of living for many, many Arkansans. Arkansas is enjoying both low unemployment and an increase in wages throughout the state, helped in part by business-friendly policies that benefit aircraft companies and suppliers.

“Most people don’t have a perception about Arkansas one way or another—we just aren’t on their radar,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “We definitely want to change that. Arkansas is a great place for business; we just have to keep telling our story and get the word out. Once people learn about what we have to offer, especially if they come here in person, they are more likely to think about living and working in Arkansas.”