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Public Statements

Governor Beebe's Weekly Column and Radio Address: Opportunities for Small Business Jobs


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I have always believed that entrepreneurship and education play a vital role in the economic success of our State. Our history of business success is built on stories of the personal initiative of Arkansans whose ideas led to the creation of companies like Walmart, Tyson, Stephens, Murphy Oil, JB Hunt, and many others.

Today, small businesses are still the lifeblood of the state's economy, employing more than half-a-million Arkansans and accounting for 97 percent of all businesses in Arkansas. Much of our growth comes from the prosperity of small businesses, and fostering entrepreneurship is part of our state's Strategic Plan for Economic Development.

The uncertainty of our national economy, however, has made it increasingly difficult for small businesses to obtain loans and attract investments. Many Arkansans have found opportunities for growth or seen a chance to serve the marketplace in a new way. But, all too often, they've been unable to obtain the capital required to expand staff, purchase equipment or develop new products and services. Over the years, the Arkansas Development Finance Authority, or ADFA, has helped businesses acquire financing. And now, ADFA will be able to expand its loan and equity programs, thanks to new money obtained from the federal government.

Arkansas has received up to $13.1 million by the State Small Business Credit Initiative of the United States Treasury Department. The money will help create jobs through loans to small and minority businesses, and support for capital investments in technology-based enterprises. Each dollar is expected to leverage at least another ten dollars in private funding, resulting in an additional $130 million to help build Arkansas's small businesses.

The involvement of our private lending institutions is essential to the success of this program. Arkansas has a history of successful public-private partnerships, and I'm confident that this program will become another example that fares well.

The programs these federal dollars will fund have proven to be effective in creating high-paying, knowledge-based jobs fit for the 21st century economy. In one such program, $2.5 million in public investment has produced $14 million in private funds for 11 different companies, including Nanomech, a nanotechnology firm created from research at the University of Arkansas. That investment created more than 100 jobs, which pay an average of $39 an hour. Nanomech is now internationally known as a leader in its field. These new federal dollars have already helped businesses, ranging from Allen's Cut and Styles of Hughes to American Vegetable Soybean, which is building an edamame plant in Mulberry.

Dreaming big is an Arkansas tradition, and the continued commitment to small businesses by capital investors will help that tradition flourish and remain strong for years to come. Our national economy cannot fully recover until lenders and investors are comfortable getting their money off the sidelines and into the game. In Arkansas, we're doing our part to make small-business investments a good bet.

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