Getting Arkansas ready to work

Getting Arkansas ready to work

This session, the House has passed a number of bills aimed at not only creating jobs, but sustaining them and ensuring our workforce is ready.

Act 166 creates a state matching grant for small businesses that have received a federal Small Business Innovation Research grant.

The federal Small Business Innovation Research Program encourages innovative small businesses to engage in federal research and commercialization that has the potential for technological innovation.

Stimulating research and commercialization grows the economy by creating and retaining high-wage, hightech jobs in moderately and highly skilled occupations. Arkansas consistently ranks poorly among states in the number of federal Small Business Innovation Research grants awarded. Matching grants will encourage Arkansas businesses to apply for the federal grant and realize economic benefits of commercialized research.

To qualify, the business would have to be principally engaged in one or more of the following:

• Advanced materials and manufacturing systems

• Agriculture, food, and environmental sciences

• Biotechnology, bioengineering, and life sciences;

• Information technology

• Transportation logistics;

• Bio-based products.

The matching grant would be limited to 50% of the federal grant up to $50,000 for Phase 1 and up to $100,000 for a Phase II award.

Act 165, the Arkansas Business and Technology Accelerator Act, creates a $2 million accelerator grant program for startup companies. Similar programs throughout the country have been found to impact success rates of start up businesses. The Arkansas Economic Development Commission will seek out corporate sponsors to provide the matching funds.

And just this week, the House approved HB1442, the Personal Finance and Job Readiness Act. This legislation requires the Department of Career Education and the Department of Education to write standards for a curriculum to teach students skills such as how to create a household budget, credit management, and retirement planning.

It also requires that students learn basic job skills including resume building and how to fill out a W-4. It requires the instruction of soft jobs skills such as time management, communication and meeting basic employer expectations.

The legislation requires the classes to be taught to students before graduation.

The House now enters the 8th week of the Regular Session. Remember you can watch all House floor proceedings and House committee meetings held in the Capitol at www.arkansashouse.org.

From State Representative Milton Nicks

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