American Taekwondo Association
|American Taekwondo Association*|
|Category:||Category III (76-300 Employees)|
With the opening last year of the H.U. Lee International Gate & Gardens at the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock, the American Taekwondo Association became a visible force in downtown Little Rock. The tribute to its founder, who died in 2000, became a tangible identifier for the organization that quietly brings more than 10,000 visitors to town each year and infuses an estimated $5 million into the local economy with its ATA World Championships.
“The ATA credits the loyalty of the state and support of the local government for its continued success, which is why in the summer of 2007, ATA built the [memorial] on the grounds of the Statehouse Convention Center,” said Jenny O’Conner, public relations director at the ATA. “Many Arkansans still don’t realize that the ATA is right here in their own backyard, but each June during the ATA World Championships, Little Rock’s largest annual convention, they are reminded.”
Lee came to the United States from Korea and founded the ATA in Omaha, Neb., in 1969 before moving to a more central location in Little Rock in 1977. Teaching his own style, known as Songahm Taekwondo, Lee’s reach was international by 1983. He then developed programs to get kids involved and later added weapons training, and the ATA now thrives on five continents. The ATA announced last year that its program has reached 1 million students.
Lee’s system combines physical Taekwondo training with life skills such as courtesy, respect and perseverance, and was one of the first to open the activity to women and children.
With its Little Rock headquarters managing and licensing more than 1,100 ATA schools around the world, it created its own supply and billing operations so customers have “one-stop shop capabilities,” O’Connor said. The ATA is currently the only martial arts company offering instruction, supplies and billing all under one roof.