July 10, 2022
Governor Hutchinson’s Weekly Address | New Center to Help Forest Businesses
Governor Hutchinson’s weekly broadcast address can be found in MP3 format and downloaded here.
small stone – Today I want to talk about a new academic center that recently opened to promote the forest industry in Arkansas.
Agriculture is our state’s dominant industry, and wood plays a vital role in our state’s economy. When you think of agriculture in its natural state, the first commodity that usually comes to mind is rice, cotton, poultry, soybeans or cattle. But forestry is vital to our state’s economy and agricultural production.
Last week, I traveled to the University of Arkansas campus in Monticello for the grand opening of the Arkansas Forest Business Center. The purpose of the center is to provide technical assistance in addressing forest resource challenges, degree programs, and information on wood supply, market conditions and efficiency.
Forestry accounts for $6 billion of Arkansas’ economy. Our state is the most wood-dependent economy in the South and the third largest in the nation. Our forests are planted twice as fast as they are harvested, we can double our timber production and remain a leader in forest sustainability.
The Forest Business Center will provide substantial resources to Arkansas’ lumber industry. The center will not only provide additional educational opportunities at UA-Monticello, but will also provide opportunities for larger economic development projects in South Arkansas.
Companies like Drax and Highland Pellets choose to expand in Arkansas because of our abundant and sustainable forest products. The Forest Business Centre will not only help our timber producers maximize their profits, but will also help attract more businesses that utilize this resource.
But the forest business center will not only benefit South Arkansas lumber producers. Peter MacKeith, dean of the Fair Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, has long had a vision for a statewide effort to promote the state’s forest products. According to Dean MacKeith, the Forest Business Center will focus on the economic and financial aspects of the timber industry, while the Anthony Timberlands Center in Fayetteville will focus on the development and promotion of forest products.
UA-Monticello is home to Arkansas’ only forestry school and UA-Fayetteville is home to our state’s only architecture school, so these two programs complement each other.
Our state is even more successful when all corners of Arkansas work together to create economic success. The Forest Business Center will benefit not only South Arkansas lumber producers, but any Arkansas state in the forest product supply chain.
Congratulations to Michael Blazier, Dean of the UA-Monticello School of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and thank you for helping Arkansas stay natural.
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