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In 1722, when French explorer Jean-Baptiste Bernard de La Harpe and his crew were exploring by way of the Arkansas River, they came upon what they called “La Petite Roche” or “The Little Rock” on the south bank of the river. This “little rock” became a landmark for travelers and gave The Natural State the name for its future capital city.
Now, 300 years later, we are celebrating this discovery and the important place Little Rock occupies in our state’s history and culture. As the capital of Arkansas, Little Rock is an important symbol as well as home to numerous businesses and attractions that bring people from all across the state, country and world.
I was honored to highlight this unique piece of our past that has linked our state with France for centuries during a recent visit with French Ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne.
La Petite Roche’s 300th anniversary is a special time to welcome Ambassador Etienne to Arkansas. In celebration of Little Rock’s long and proud history, the thriving community it is today and its bright future, the La Petite Roche Tricentennial Task Force has organized fitting tributes to mark this milestone.
We continue to build on this connection centuries later with investments in Arkansas’s workforce. Several French-owned firms have located in our state including Dassault Falcon and L’Oréal. The ambassador and I visited these companies which serve to demonstrate our strong ties today and opportunities for the future.
These businesses, and other French-owned operations, have created 6,300 well-paying jobs in The Natural State.
Arkansas is a great example of how our nation’s longtime friendship with France is mutually beneficial. Direct employment in Arkansas is far from the only way our alliance supports job creation in our communities. Many more jobs are maintained through trade between our two nations.
Our economic relationship creates close to 1.3 million jobs in France and the U.S. with two-thirds of those located in America.
It’s critical that we continue to nurture our bond so we can attract additional investment.
While this relationship allows American businesses—both large and small—to compete in today’s global marketplace, maintaining a strong relationship with France provides more than just economic rewards. This partnership reinforces our shared common values, bolstering our resolve and confidence as we stand side-by-side on the global stage and work to mutually keep each other safe.
I am pleased to continue promoting our friendship, strengthening our ties and highlighting our unique relationship and history.
It was an honor to commemorate this important discovery that put Little Rock on the map and share in its historic significance with all Arkansans and the French Ambassador. Ambassador Etienne’s recognition of this landmark is a great way to connect our past with our present and pave a road to a successful future.