Business Owner & Indian Immigrant Advocates for Little Rock’s Economic Development

Indian native Rajesh Chokhani spent 13 years with Indian steel and textiles giant Welspun, before the company gave him an important new project: to open a $150 million pipe plant in the United States.

Chokhani came to America and traveled the country looking for the ideal spot. In 2006, he chose Little Rock for the city’s central location, its rail and waterway connections, and its welcoming business community. “Everyone was very, very welcoming, and eager to help, going out of their way to see that we were comfortable and happy,” he says.

In the last decade, Welspun has invested more than $100 million to expand its Little Rock location, where Chokhani is now Chief Operating Officer. The site employs more than 1,000 people—most of whom are U.S.-born. The plant generates revenues of up to $650 million a year.

“It’s a multiplier,” Chokhani says. “Any business that comes in creates lots of indirect jobs, and taxes, and revenues for the state and the city.” Chokhani believes Welspun has helped attract a host of new businesses as well. “When we came here, Little Rock wasn’t known,” he says. “We started a manufacturing revolution in the area.”

In 2015, Chokhani was proud to become a United States citizen. “I’m as American as other Americans are, except that I wasn’t born here,” he says. “We’re an American company, run in an American way.”

In addition to the jobs he has helped create, Chokhani has found other ways of giving back to his adopted city. He has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local healthcare clinics, and serves on the boards of Pulaski Technical College, the Museum of Discovery, and the Harmony Clinic, which extends free medical treatment to underserved and homeless. He is also on Executive Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, where he frequently meets with investors and entrepreneurs who are interested in relocating to Arkansas.

“Whenever business prospects come in, I tell them about my experiences, and how well we were treated,” Chokhani says. “I try to be an advocate for the economic development of Little Rock.”

About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…