Arkansas Photonics Industry Alliance Holds Statewide Conference

The Arkansas Photonics Industry Alliance held its first statewide conference in September.

According to a news release, the conference was focused on growing and strengthening the state’s 13 photonics companies.

The meeting was attended by 25 industry representatives, including members of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and other state officials.

“The Arkansas Economic Development Commission is proud to support the Arkansas Photonics Industry Alliance,” AEDC’s director of technology development, Tom Chilton, said in the release. “The photonics industry is a very important, enabling technology in Arkansas with tremendous growth potential.”

The alliance estimates the industry employs more than 500 people in the state, delivers about $27 million in wages and contributes more than $77 million yearly to the state’s economy.

Paul McManamon, former president of SPIE, an international photonics association, spoke at the conference.

“There seemed to be strong interest in developing the appropriate workforce education programs in Arkansas, especially at the two-year technician level,” McManamon said. “I doubt most states would have received this level of interest across the various economic development agencies.”