Governor Mike Beebe Speaks at the Ground Breaking for New Edamame Processing Facility
in Mulberry, Arkansas
[Video shows various pictures of soybean fields with specialists or agents in fields. Music plays in the background]
[Title Slide – Governor Mike Beebe Speaks at the Ground Breaking for New Edamame Processing Facility in Mulberry, Arkansas. Your Arkansas Soybean Podcast. Presented by University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension U of A System, Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board.]
[Governor Mike Beebe, Arkansas State Governor] Thank you, doctor, for being here, and for your investment in Arkansas. And for your belief in our people, and for the opportunity to grow the economic opportunities for the people of this region. To the higher education officials and to the folks who’ve been on the ground with me also, add my sincere thanks for all of your collective efforts that got us to where we are today.
You all probably have heard me say – certainly the media has over and over – about the correlation between education and economic development. Inevitably, a lot of the people’s emphasis has to do with workforce training and upping our skill level of our people in order to be able to retain and/or attract the kind of businesses and industries that tomorrow’s educational demand requires. [It requires] a higher and higher skill level, a higher and higher understanding in so many different fields that traditionally, particularly in manufacturing, weren’t even applicable a few years ago. That’s certainly going to be true here, as well. You’re going to have to, and we will do all we can and we will provide all the assistance we need to provide, to ensure that the workforce that ends up working here is the kind of quality workforce with the kind of additional training necessary to make this company the most successful company it can possibly be.
But there’s another aspect of this marriage, if you will, between education and economic development, that doesn’t get talked about quite as much. It does in smaller circles. It certainly does in our office. And it certainly does in our institutions and higher education. But today’s announcement is a specific reflection of that other aspect of that marriage between economic development and higher education.
What has gone on at the University of Arkansas, the research that has occurred, the collaboration between the educators, the scientists, the research individuals who work day and night without you ever knowing about it, to try to improve existing products and create new ones, is a major component of the reason that we are here today. The whole string, now; this isn’t your normal soybean people. And it’s already been mentioned: we grow soybeans better than anybody in the world. Arkansas knows how to grow soybeans. But the soybeans that we have traditionally been growing across the state, particularly in eastern Arkansas, is a little bit different variety and has a different usage than the soybean that is going to be used in the edamame. It’s a totally different soybean, and the research that has gone on at the University of Arkansas Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the USDA and in cooperation with the Farm Bureau, and in cooperation with all the other entities that have been mentioned, provides another application for that traditional soybean; a different type of soybean that’s used in a different fashion. I didn’t even know what this stuff was a few months ago. Well, maybe a little longer than that. My wife’s hooked on it. I mean, Ginger is hooked on this stuff, and apparently a whole lot of Americans are getting hooked on it as well. And it is really a growing industry that has the opportunity to be able to take its place in our food chain and for our consumers; not just around this country, but indeed around the globe. And Dr. Chung was mentioning the fact that things have changed in China. We are seeing that more and more. And with transportation costs, with increased labor costs in China, they have a very aggressive program in China that ‘up’ the wages they’re paid in China.
America has become a more competitive place, even with our higher wages, with the wages that we have that are still so much higher when you factor in the transportation costs and all the other logistics; we now have a competitive opportunity. Dr. Chung saw that in his vision [and] was actually able to relate that, and he chose this part of America, not just this part of Arkansas. He chose this part of America because of that relationship between our education, because of the research that’s been going on, because of the understanding and the commitment of all of our people. And I can’t say enough about our AEDC people and our ADVO people. I mean, they work tirelessly; they are better than a major-league all-star baseball player. They don’t bat a thousand percent; we lose, we lose to other states, we lose sometimes, but they’re batting so much better than that .333 or .340 that a major-league baseball player gets inducted in the Hall of Fame for; they ought to be in the Hall of Fame, too, because they win a whole lot more than they lose. And part of it’s because of you. It’s you. The ultimate secret strength of this state is its people.
We couldn’t do this without the U of A; we couldn’t do this without the city leaders and the civic leaders; we couldn’t do this without our state agencies; we couldn’t do it without the entrepreneurial spirit that exists. But ultimately, we could not do it if we didn’t have the populace, the work ethic and the values exhibited by the people of Arkansas.
So in the final analysis when you start congratulating these folks – and they need to be congratulated – when we start throwing accolades around – and they need to be thrown around – you do not need to forget that all of the folks in this room and countless others like you across our state are the reason for our success.
I bet you every governor in America feels that way about his people, but they’re wrong. [Audience laughs] There is no place in America, and we’re seeing this every single day.
I made a speech; I wasn’t going to get off into this and I’m going to hush here in just a second, but I made a speech a couple of years ago to Boys State. It’s the first time I’ve ever used this line. I said, your parents, maybe some of you all youngsters have been guilty of it, but your parents have been guilty of it, I’ve been guilty of it; for too long, there was an attitude among our people a lot of times about ‘thank God for Mississippi.’ Anybody here ever said that? Huh? Well, don’t say it anymore. It’s not even applicable anymore. We are now ranked fifth in America in public education. Number five. [Audience applauds] As the mayor mentioned, we are one of four states that entered this fiscal year not in financial trouble. We have been lapping the rest of this country the last four or five years in a number of different areas, not the least of which is the quality of life and the opportunity for growth and expansion of our people. So don’t say that. Let Louisiana or Alabama say ‘thank God for Mississippi.’ [Audience laughs] Let Oklahoma say it, for God’s sake. If you want to say something, you say you’re mad because Maryland’s first in education, and we’re just fifth, and we’re not happy with that. You say you’re unhappy because we’ve, for the first time since they’ve been keeping records, passed four states in four years in per-capita income, when we never passed any state in any per capita income rating in the past 50 years. And you’re not happy with passing four states in four years; you wanted to pass eight states in four years. Set your goals higher, set your sights higher. You people are the reason Arkansas is where she is today and where she is going tomorrow.
This is another example of it. It’s cooperation; it’s collaboration; it’s hard work; it’s Arkansas values; and it’s education and economic development. God bless you, Mulberry. [Audience applauds]
[Narrator with music playing in the background] Your Arkansas Soybean Podcast is a production of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, and was funded impart by the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board. For more information on soybean farming in Arkansas contact your local county extension office.
[Title slide – Your Arkansas Soybean Podcast. Video shows various pictures of soybean fields with specialists or agents in fields. U of A Division of Agriculture Research and Extension University of Arkansas System, Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board. For more information on soybean farming in Arkansas contact your county extension office or go to www.uaex.edu. Your Arkansas Soybean Podcast.]