Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced on Wednesday Col. Robert Ator II (ret.) has been hired as the Arkansas Economic Development Commission Director of Military Affairs effective Tuesday, Jan. 9.

“Robert is the ideal person to carry on the mission of the state’s Military Affairs Committee,” Hutchinson said in a release. “He has dedicated his life to serving his country and his adopted state, and his numerous accomplishments in the U.S. Air Force and the Arkansas Air National Guard will be an asset as our state works to strengthen ties with our congressional delegation and national military leaders.”

Ator recently retired from military service after serving as commander of the 189th Airlift Wing of the Arkansas Air National Guard, the largest Air National Guard C-130 Wing in the U.S. As commander, Ator was responsible for leading the wing’s 14 subordinate units with more than 1,000 members, assets valued in excess of $2 billion, and an annual operating budget of $70 million.

“Under the leadership of the Governor, Mike Preston and the entire AEDC team, the state has seen strong growth in our economic prospects,” Ator said. “I am very pleased to join the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and excited to continue that work as the Director of Military Affairs. The U.S. military is an important economic driver in Arkansas – currently providing 64,000 direct and indirect jobs and a local economic impact of more than $4.5 billion a year. After a career of military service, I look forward to continued work with our men and women in uniform, while also helping to further develop a strong local economy that will benefit all Arkansans.”

Ator is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy where he earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering. His son, Robert Ator, is also at the Academy where he is a member of the football team.