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High-Tech Heats up Arkansas

Learn more about the projects, programs, and incentives that make technology thrive, in exclusive conversations with Tom Chilton, Director of Technology Development, Arkansas Economic Development Commission

Southern Tech Sites 2008
Q. What sectors of technology are growing in Arkansas?
A. Technology growth is centered around our two centers for nanotechnology, University of Arkansas-Little Rock and University of Arkansas-Fayetteville. Nanotechnology is used in the development of medical appliances and tissue regeneration, and also involves nanotechnology particles known as "quantum dots," markers that help facilitate the development of other science and technology products.

The state's investment in nanotechnology research was integral in the growth of Duralor LLC, a producer of high performance coatings for cutting tools and machine parts that is establishing its headquarters in the Springdale with plans to hire ten employees in its first year, and to add 100 more within five years. In quantum dot development, Nanomaterials and Nanofabrication Laboratories, a member of our Genesis Business Incubator out of the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, has already made breakthroughs in quantum dot technology, resulting in the award of a second phase SBIR research grant to continue to expand their research.

Q. What are the incentives for investment?
A. We have tweaked the Consolidated Incentive Act
of 2003, one of our most popular incentives for research and development, by adding language that targets smaller companies with payrolls ranging from $100,000 to $1 million. A targeted business research and development tax credit provides smaller companies with a tax credit that can be sold to other companies. Small businesses generally do not have a tax liability, and since it is transferable, we found this to be an incentive that will stimulate small companies' growth.

Additionally, exciting news from the last legislative session involves a public-private organization called Accelerate Arkansas, which unveiled a comprehensive plan containing five different strategies to encourage knowledge-based job creation and to facilitate more innovative science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education in our K-12 system, as well as a business-friendly environment for small to medium-sized business.

Accelerate Arkansas will put our state on the technology development map. The administration of Governor Mike Beebe is not the Arkansas that people have known in the past. We have progressive programs designed to specifically to stimulate technology development.

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