FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) - A local candle manufacturer has long been rooted in Fayetteville.
However, following an invitation to go to Cuba, ownership said they now see a great opportunity for trade.
In early August the president of Hanna’s Candle Co., Burt Hanna, received the invitation to travel to Cuba with around 50 other business leaders and elected officials from Arkansas.
"Cuba is a [trade] market that we are exploring,” Governor Asa Hutchinson told 5NEWS.
The trip was organized to explore trade opportunities with the nation.
"I’ve always wanted to go to Cuba. I was excited about it," Hanna said. “What I was hoping to find was wax.”
The governor acknowledged trade opportunities with Cuba are still in the future, and Arkansas has the opportunity to be at the front of the line when those opportunities emerge.
"Hopefully [trade] will open up in the next 20 years," Hutchinson said.
Hanna said he wanted to be there with the governor in order to set his company ahead in future trade.
"50 percent of success is just showing up,” Hanna said. “I wanted to be the first one to show up, I wanted to get my hat in the ring if they ever wanted a partner outside of Cuba with a candle factory.”
Hanna said the demand for candles isn’t strong in Cuba. Hanna hoped to capitalize on Cuba’s workforce in order to expand his business to South America.
"I’m also interested in partnering with them, and starting a candle factory in Cuba,” Hanna said. “There are all those people down there that need jobs down there. I think that's where the real value lies. Their labor rate is where China used to be in 2000.”
Hanna told 5NEWS he wanted to maintain a strong workforce in Fayetteville, one of the nation’s largest candle manufacturers, while also exploring the expansion to Cuba in the future.