Commerce’s Lockhart retires after 24 years of helping Alabama firms go global
MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Hilda Lockhart, the international business expert who helped countless Alabama companies explore new markets and opportunities in every corner of the globe, is retiring from her position at the Alabama Department of Commerce.
For the past 24 years, Lockhart has served as director of Commerce’s Office of International Trade, which is responsible for the state’s trade promotion and development efforts in an effort to sell Alabama-made products and services throughout the world and to create jobs for citizens. Her last day at Commerce was Monday.
During her tenure at Commerce, Lockhart coordinated trade missions involving Alabama companies that traveled to 51 different nations, logging well over 1 million miles on her journeys.
“Hilda has been a tireless champion for Alabama entrepreneurs and business owners who dreamed of finding new, overseas markets for their products and building connections with potential partners around the globe,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“Over the years, her service to the state’s business community has been downright remarkable.”
Governor Kay Ivey praised Lockhart for her contributions to Alabama’s long track record of expanding exports, which has created jobs and boosted many businesses across the state. Over the past two decades, Alabama exports have nearly tripled in value, averaging around $20 billion annually.
In 2018, Commerce received the President’s “E” Award for Export Service, the highest recognition an organization can receive for contributing to the expansion of U.S. exports.
“Alabama business owners looking to navigate new export opportunities have long known who they could depend on for assistance — and that’s Hilda,” Governor Ivey said.
“She will be missed, but I know she has steered us on a course that will continue to help Alabama businesses with these endeavors.”
‘BEST JOB IN THE STATE’
Lockhart, who joined Commerce in September 1998, said the most rewarding part of her job has been working with small businesses across the state and seeing them excel at marketing their products overseas.
“It takes a lot of commitment to step into a foreign country and meet with people that sometimes don’t even speak English. But we tried to make that easy for them,” she said.
Lockhart said Alabama’s trade team and the Alabama Export Alliance have benefited from a close collaboration with state and federal agencies, while also enjoying steadfast support from the state’s leadership over the years.
“My career with the State of Alabama has spanned almost 24 years,” Lockhart said. “What a great way to learn more about our world from so many realms, including different cultures and making new friends. Everybody always said I had the best job in the state, and as I look back, I agree entirely.
“I’ve been so fortunate to have served under some of Alabama’s most extraordinary leaders who understood the importance of international trade. That doesn’t happen in every state. I can only thank them for believing in our trade program that helped small and medium-sized companies grow their global footprints,” she added.
Before joining Commerce, Lockhart served as executive director of the Japan-America Society of Georgia for five years and manager of international trade at the Florida Department of Commerce for 16 years.