Arkansas Photonics Industry Alliance to Align Optics Companies

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Aug. 12, 2013 12:00 am  

But that’s not to say the companies aren’t interested. It’s just a slow process. Nicolas Mayerhoeffer, marketing director at Laser Tools Co. Inc. in Little Rock, for example, thinks cooperation in the industry is a good idea.

“I think that will be perfect,” Mayerhoeffer said. “I think relying on alliances, and I said this to some of our partners in Chicago and Milwaukee, that’s what we need to do. Absolutely.”

Since the first meeting, Burgess and Warden have also begun work on attaining nonprofit status and are preparing a website.

They’ve also reached out to several governmental entities, and have obtained oral support from the office of U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

“The [cluster] is in its infancy, but it has a growing number of very enthusiastic members lending their expertise to lay the foundation for promoting effective growth of the industry in Arkansas,” Griffin said in a letter to the AEDC.

Joe Holmes, director of marketing and communications at the AEDC, said the commission is in favor of the cluster’s formation, and noted that it had put some incentives into attracting photonics companies as part of building out Arkansas’ technology industry.

“When it comes to recruiting these type companies, we are seeking to play to our strengths and pursue any advantage that university research, private company expertise and Arkansas ingenuity might provide us,” Holmes said. “Whether photonics, nanotechnology, agricultural science or logistics, we want to build on the things that firm up our tech and research infrastructure.”

In particular, the AEDC supplied Space Photonics Inc. of Fayetteville with an equity investment tax credit, and Vivione Biosciences of Pine Bluff received $292,000 from the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund.

The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce in Little Rock also voiced its approval in a letter to Burgess.

“We trust this alliance will give Arkansans a better understanding of the industry and its economic impact to our economy,” Susie Marks, the chamber’s vice president of programs, said in the letter. “As you move the alliance to the next step and lay out the groundwork for what it is seeking to accomplish, we offer whatever assistance we can give to help make that happen.”

‘Unsung Hero’

Burgess said that when the cluster is formed, it will be among the top 10 of its kind in the country, and, he hopes, will help attract other businesses to the state.



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