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Gov. Hutchinson speaks on future of state economy at Aerospace summit

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston spoke Thursday at the summit about the future of mobility in the state.

ROGERS, Ark. — The Mid-America Aerospace and Defense Summit finished its 2022 event on Thursday.

Governor Asa Hutchinson spoke at the event as a keynote speaker. He mentioned how aerospace is crucial to the future of mobility in the state of Arkansas.

“Advanced modes of transportation are urgent for creating a supply chain that works,” said Governor Hutchinson. “Spending has accelerated inflation in our country but it has also increased inflation because of the constraints on our supply chain. We have not only increased demand but we reduced supply and made supply more difficult.”

Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston also spoke at the summit. Serving on the Arkansas Council of Future Mobility, he focused on what Arkansas can do to remain leading as a transportation state.

“We’re looking at these things as, how is the aerospace and defense industry in Arkansas leading the future of our technology when it comes to transportation,” said Secretary Preston. “What regulatory barriers do we need to remove to make sure that we can have drone delivery, that we can support Walmart and their efforts in what they’re trying to do to get drone delivery to that last mile?”

Both Hutchinson and Preston recognized the 70 aerospace and defense companies in Arkansas that impact its economy. In fact, they both mentioned how aerospace is the number one export in Arkansas. 

From equipment being used in Ukraine in their effort against Russia, to the F-35 mission in Fort Smith, officials said Arkansas is playing a key role in spreading freedom.

“It's impacting, you know, not just Arkansas in our economy and jobs here but it's helping to protect freedom around the world,” said Preston.

Hutchinson also highlighted three keys to growth in the state of Arkansas for the Aerospace and Defense Industry.

First, he says that Arkansas must remain a state where business is easy. He told a story about his conversation with U.S. Steel CEO on why they chose Arkansas for a new operation. According to Hutchinson, the CEO Would’ve had the operation up and running before even receiving a permit in Pennsylvania.

Secondly, a goal for the state is to continue developing skilled workers. He explains how Arkansas has grown in computer science with classes being taught in high school through a mandate and more certified teachers to teach the classes.

Third, he highlights that business needs sales for successful operation. He indicated that it was important to continue marketing Arkansas and its businesses not only around the nation but around the world.

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