by Max Brantley
The opening of the Arkansas office was celebrated with a reception at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin hosted by U.S. Ambassador to Germany John B. Emerson. Cornelius Schnitzler, a German national with a background in economics and trade, will run the new Arkansas office and work closely with Lenka Horakova, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s (AEDC) Director of Business Development for Europe.
This is Arkansas’ third international office. The state has maintained offices in Japan and China for several years.
Schnitzler was chosen because of his established business relationships in Europe. He is fluent in German, English and French. Germany is the largest foreign direct investor in Arkansas with more than 30 German subsidiaries located in the state.
“We are seeing more European businesses interested in expanding in the United States, and this is the ideal time to capitalize on recent momentum and keep Arkansas on the radar,” said Governor Hutchinson. “Berlin was a logical choice due our state’s close business ties with Germany. Gaining access to international governments and business leaders requires well-established relationships, which Mr. Schnitzler has developed throughout Europe.”
German companies located in Arkansas include manufacturers of automotive parts, power tools, plastics, and steel.
In 2015, there were five European countries among Arkansas’ top 20 trading partners (Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and the Netherlands). These five countries accounted for 16.9 percent of all exports from Arkansas. Arkansas’ exports to Germany totaled $102 million in 2015. Imports from Germany to Arkansas in 2015 totaled $419.9 million, an increase of more than 52.9 percent over 2014.
“The growth of European countries interested in doing business in Arkansas has been significant over the last year,” said Mike Preston, AEDC’s Executive Director. “By having someone in Europe to represent the state, we feel that we will be able to better understand the needs of these international companies and can tailor our recruitment efforts to attract more foreign direct investment to Arkansas.”