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Mark Pryor connects with local entrepreneurs.

U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor's words resonated with Arkansas entrepreneurs at a recent roundtable discussion in Little Rock's River Market when he said the national deficit was a national emergency that demanded action.

Pryor, Arkansas' Democratic senior senator, hosted the invitation-only event in the Cox Building. It included 28 startup CEOs and state officials. Pryor solicited their thoughts and feedback on how to spur innovation and small-business job creation.

Pryor stressed the importance of eliminating the deficit, which he said would take 10 years or more, and restructuring the tax code, both of which were well received by the small-business owners in attendance.

"The fact that he recognizes that this is a national emergency--that's the mindset that we need," said Tery Baskin, CEO of Little Rock startup RxResults

Pryor asked for and received positive feedback on his jobs legislation package, which includes:

* The Small Business Savings Account Act, which would allow entrepreneurs to create a tax-free savings account of up to $10,000 for their startup businesses;

* The American Opportunity Act, which would create a 25 percent federal income tax credit for investing in qualified small businesses; and

* The America Competes Reauthorization Act, which was passed into law and seeks to promote science research parks; innovation through cash prizes; the use of entrepreneurship in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math; and a plan for advanced manufacturing investments.

Jeff StaInaker, CEO of Conway's PrivacyStar, told Pryor that his business chose to base its operations in Arkansas rather than Massachusetts because the state's overall incentives program was "much, much better."

Pryor said his angel investing bill was modeled after Arkansas' Equity Investment Tax Credit of 33 and a third percent and which was heralded by several in attendance as crucial to development of their startups.

"In Washington, the reputation of Arkansas is, it's a good place to do business," he said. Pryor said the business community in Arkansas was one of the best kept secrets in the country.

Startups represented at the forum included RxResults, Infusion Marketing, Stage 1 Diagnostics, Moon Distributors, Insight Ecosystems, EquityNet, Vertical Studio, BioStrategies, Black Oak Partners and PrivacyStar.

Other organizations represented were the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, Innovate Arkansas, Accelerate Arkansas, the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, Diamond State Ventures, UAMS BioVentures, the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, the Stephens Group, the city of Little Rock and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
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Title Annotation:Innovation Briefs
Publication:Arkansas Business
Geographic Code:1U7AR
Date:Mar 7, 2011
Words:406
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