SMART Reproduction has been named as one of 27 finalists in the Dream Big Awards program, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced on Thursday.
Located at 221 S. Gee St. in Jonesboro, the company, owned by Brittany Scott, is one of four finalists in the woman-owned category of the contest.
SMART Reproduction was one of more than 3,000 companies that submitted applications, according to a press release from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which stated the applicants included some of the most innovative, diverse and successful small businesses from across the country.
Specializing in the international export of frozen semen and embryos from sheep and goats, Scott said SMART Reproduction is the only multi-country USDA-approved collection and export center and the first and only approved by the European Union.
“That was a labor of love,” she said of obtaining EU approval.
The company’s foundation was built by acting as an agent between private customers in other countries, such as Australia, Jamaica and France, who wanted to improve their livestock and sheep, and goat producers in the United States.
“By crossing genetics, they are getting a better animal,” Scott said.
In the last couple of years, Scott has been expanding into government contracts to provide goat semen for “breed up” programs.
Scott noted that in many countries goats are in high demand as they can be used for meat, milk and fiber, and in some cases as transport animals to carry loads.
“On the meat and milk side, the genetics in America are better,” she said, noting that while goat is not heavily consumed in the U.S., that is not the case in other parts of the world.
“In other countries, especially developing countries, people can’t afford a cow and it’s not cost-effective,” she said. “Goat meat and milk are the most consumed per capita in the world. Indirectly, we are helping alleviate world hunger and poverty.”
She noted that Heifer International, which distributes animals to families in need around the world as a means of providing self-sufficiency, is an organization they would like to work with to further that cause.
“We reached out to them before, but then COVID hit,” she said. “We definitely would like to reach out to them again and hopefully work with them in the future.”
SMART Reproduction’s first government contract was in Nepal through a partnership with WINROCK International. In addition to goats, the project provided rice, maize, lentils and vegetables.
For the Nepal project, as well as a project in the Philippines, goat semen was imported to increase the number and quality of goats available.
“The Philippines project was the largest goat semen import the Philippines has ever done,” Scott said.
Now, SMART Reproduction is working with Panama and Brazil on future projects.
“Panama wants to offer incentives to farmers to import,” Scott said. “They want to increase the sheep and goat population.”
She said there is an education component, as well, as the University of Arkansas and Arkansas State University would do a student exchange program with Panama.
Scott said A-State has been an excellent partner for SMART Reproduction locally, as well, by providing quality interns who work at the facility.
Providing those opportunities makes sense for Scott, who found her way to this unique business via an assistantship in reproductive physiology at Louisiana State University.
The first to attend college in her family, Scott said what started as a domestic reproduction company expanded to include the global market when she had children and needed a way to work locally, then in Cross County.
“2018 was the first collection season,” she said, noting that the idea of developing the export business was “all brought on by insomnia and pregnancy.”
SMART Reproduction was the result, and the company, along with a complimentary business Delta Livestock Diagnostics, now employs seven.
“We’re very excited and very honored,” Scott said of the Dream Big Award finalist designation. She noted that the company also recently learned that it has been selected for the Arkansas Governor’s Award for Excellence in Exports through the District Export Council.
“For both awards, we are extremely honored,” she said.
The Dream Big Awards program includes eight different Business Achievement Awards to recognize the excellence of leading businesses in each of the following categories: community support and leadership, emerging, green/sustainable, minority-owned, LGBTQ-owned, veteran-owned, woman-owned and young entrepreneur.
Scott said her business is a member of the local chamber, and she is active in the Young Professionals Group. That affiliation is what led Christina Ballard, grant writer for SMART Reproduction, to submit an application to Dream Big.
The awards celebrate the achievements of small businesses and honor their contributions to America’s economic growth. One finalist will be chosen as the 2022 Small Business of the Year award winner and will receive national recognition and a $25,000 cash prize.
Award winners will be announced on Oct. 18 during the Dream Big Awards Ceremony.