Executive Council Members

Rudy Ortiz, Vice Chair
Robert Coon, Treasurer


Jim Aardappel, Executive Secretary


Keith Smith, Vice Chair

The Arkansas District Export Council 

The Arkansas District Export Council is a private, non-profit organization, whose members are appointed for four year terms by the Secretary of Commerce. The ArDEC brings together experienced international business people who provide support, advice, and assistance to Arkansas companies interested in entering into or expanding into international markets. 

Mission Statement


The Arkansas District Export Council encourages and supports: 

  • Arkansas exports that strengthen individual companies, stimulate Arkansas economic growth, and create jobs;

  • Arkansas export promotion & expansion activities by working with the Arkansas U.S. Export Assistance Center; and

  • Programs & services to promote increased Arkansas agricultural and manufactured exports in the global marketplace. 

We help Arkansas companies in the following ways: 

  • Provide counsel & advice to Arkansas companies interested in exporting for the first time or expanding their international markets;

  • Identify sources for export financing & insurance for Arkansas exporters;

  • Foster & promote greater awareness of the economic impact & benefits to Arkansas companies and business organizations;

  • Identify tariff & non-tariff barriers that keep Arkansas products and services from selling into international regions or markets;

  • Provide constructive ideas/comments to U.S. Government officials and Congressional representatives on leveling the playing field for Arkansas companies overseas;

  • Support the programs and services of the Arkansas U.S. Export Assistance Center;

  • Expand local export assistance partnerships with Arkansas State Government and business organizations;

  • Promote international education & awareness at all education levels and institutions throughout the State of Arkansas.

History of the Arkansas District Export Council

The Arkansas District Export Council has grown exponentially since its conception. The ArDEC was not funded for the first few years of its existence in Arkansas. The main event of the year was a conference held at the Red Apple Inn.  Members would arrive and meet in the afternoon of the first day, have a dinner usually with a speaker, and the next morning  would included a program followed by a quick sandwich lunch and a round of golf. The participants paid their own expenses. While it was a good thing to get together in "retreat" mode, that was about the only significant activity of the ArDEC for the year. Patricia Gonzales was responsible for revitalizing the ArDEC with a small fundraising effort.  With the renewed involvement of the USDOC, the renewed commitment of the Executive Committee, the ArDEC started having regular meetings. The ArDEC has continued to grow and has become active through statewide interest and programming. 

Currently, ArDEC members meet every quarter. Most of the meetings are held in Little Rock but at least one of them is in another part of the state. ArDEC typically hosts a networking reception for Arkansas exporters in the evening prior to ArDEC's meeting. A company tour is held on the day of a meeting and non-members can join in this activity as well.


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