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Arkansas: An In-Depth Look at the Southern States
The Southern states are thriving, thanks to entrepreneurs with innovative high-tech ideas, strong public and private investment, and enthusiastic support from state and local governments.
Mali R. Schantz-Feld (Southern Tech Sites 2007)
 
Arkansas
Arkansas' state legislature is in the process of developing a comprehensive portfolio of state-supported technology-based economic development (TBED) initiatives that are expected to result in $140 million in public funds for Arkansas's TBED community over the next two years.

In 2007, every component of the legislative agenda proposed by Accelerate Arkansas was accepted. The General Assembly also passed additional TBED legislation, including authorization for research parks, broadband access, and R&D tax credits, complementing the already operational programs of the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority.

Also during the 2007 General Assembly, the Consolidated Incentive Act was amended to provide Arkansas' payroll rebate incentive on new full-time permanent employees to targeted businesses for up to 10 years. A targeted business may now also earn an income tax credit or a sales-and-use tax credit of up to 8 percent based upon new investment if the business meets certain criteria.

"The Arkansas Science and Technology Authority funded our company in 2001 with $200,000 seed capital. Over the seven-year period, the return on investment in state tax revenue through payroll and corporate income tax is well over 20 percent per year."

Chuck Chalfant, President and CEO, Space Photonics
Fayetteville, Arkansas

Governor Mike Beebe has also authorized a portion of Arkansas's revenue surplus for TBED initiatives, such as the Arkansas Risk Capital Matching Fund for early-stage knowledge-based companies; STEM Supplemental Income Grants for teachers who specialize in science, technology, engineering, and math; and funds for research matching, centers for applied technology, bioscience research grants, the Seed Capital Investment Program, and Innovate Arkansas, a new nonprofit organization that supports startup companies. Funds can also be directed to assist in the establishment of the Arkansas Research Alliance, a not-for-profit corporation designed to identify and encourage job-creating scientific research and recommend strategic investments at universities. And the surplus can be directed toward the Task Force for the 21st Century, at which 17 individuals will study the state's economic development and global competitiveness.

Economic development entities have encouraged the biosciences sector by providing an impetus for networking opportunities. Both in 2005 and 2007, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) enabled the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) to host annual UAMS Private Equity Roundtable events, that invite Mid-South-based venture capital executives to review UAMS' newest technologies and startup companies. Those presenting at the event are prescreened and chosen by the venture capitalists as being the most innovative and having the best potential for successful commercialization. Additional research institutions from across Arkansas have been invited to join UAMS in submitting new life sciences technologies for venture capital review. Governor Mike Beebe has also authorized a portion of Arkansas's revenue surplus for TBED initiatives, such as the Arkansas Risk Capital Matching Fund for early-stage knowledge-based companies; STEM Supplemental Income Grants for teachers who specialize in science, technology, engineering, and math; and funds for research matching, centers for applied technology, bioscience research grants, the Seed Capital Investment Program, and Innovate Arkansas, a new nonprofit organization that supports startup companies. Funds can also be directed to assist in the establishment of the Arkansas Research Alliance, a not-for-profit corporation designed to identify and encourage job-creating scientific research and recommend strategic investments at universities. And the surplus can be directed toward the Task Force for the 21st Century, at which 17 individuals will study the state's economic development and global competitiveness.

Economic development entities have encouraged the biosciences sector by providing an impetus for networking opportunities. Both in 2005 and 2007, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) enabled the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) to host annual UAMS Private Equity Roundtable events, that invite Mid-South-based venture capital executives to review UAMS' newest technologies and startup companies. Those presenting at the event are prescreened and chosen by the venture capitalists as being the most innovative and having the best potential for successful commercialization. Additional research institutions from across Arkansas have been invited to join UAMS in submitting new life sciences technologies for venture capital review.

 
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