Governor Hutchinson brings this week's report from Tel Aviv while on his economic trade mission to Europe and Israel.
Last Saturday, I embarked on my sixth international trade mission with Mike Preston, director of our Arkansas Economic Development Commission. These trips have been instrumental in bringing foreign investment and creating jobs in Arkansas. Each time we leave on one of these trade missions, it becomes clear that Arkansas is becoming known as a global leader in trade.
On this trip, we met with key people, both with companies who are currently operating in Arkansas and with companies interested in relocating to our state. The first leg of our journey took us to the Paris International Air Show.
The airshow is a unique opportunity to meet with leaders in the aviation and defense sector. More than 180 aerospace and aviation companies create high-paying jobs across Arkansas, making it one of our state’s top exports. After the Paris Air Show two years ago, we announced Aerojet Rocketdyne’s plans to add 85 jobs and invest $18 million in Calhoun County. As Mike Preston says, these international missions have really put Arkansas on the map as an economic contender. The recognition that we get for our record-low unemployment rate and strong workforce is exciting.
During our time in Europe, we also met with the French companies that currently operate in Arkansas. These companies operate 25 Arkansas facilities and employ more than 3,700 Arkansans. The newest, Sediver, opened a plant in May in West Memphis.
From France, we traveled to Frankfurt and Cologne, Germany. German businesses account for 1,600 jobs in our state, and our newly opened office will increase our opportunities. We had meetings with Lanxess, which employs around 500 Arkansans in El Dorado, and SMS Group, which is a key partner in our Arkansas steel industry.
We’ve just arrived in Israel for the last leg of our mission, and this marks an encouraging new opportunity for Arkansas. With Arkansas’s status as a leader in computer science education, we want Israeli tech companies to know they should look to Arkansas when doing business in the U.S. We also continued our efforts to recruit manufacturers in the firearms industry in our state.
You need to look no further than China’s recent investments in Arkansas to demonstrate the value of these international trips. We have forged relationships with Chinese leaders that have influenced four Chinese companies to establish new facilities in Arkansas. These four companies are investing more than $1.4 billion and creating more than 1,500 jobs for Arkansans. Last month we made the largest job-creation announcement in the history of Arkansas’ Delta Region. China-based Ruyi Technology will create 800 new jobs in Forrest City and invest $410 million in the area. I cannot overstate the impact this investment will have in the Delta.
Over the last five years, foreign direct investment in Arkansas has grown over 40 percent, which places Arkansas among the top states in the nation in growth and foreign investment. Nearly 450 global employers have operations in the state, employing more than 46,000 Arkansans. For us to continue to attract higher paying jobs and generate success in the ever-changing global economy, it is vital to meet business leaders who are willing to develop and invest in our state. I’m honored to lead these missions, which are providing Arkansans with more opportunities for prosperity and are maximizing our economic potential. When we have the opportunity to pitch the strengths of our state abroad, companies take notice, and Arkansas reaps the benefits.