Little Rock’s Venture Center is launching a new program called VCTech, an effort to strengthen the organization’s commitment and support to technology-focused businesses and entrepreneurs in Arkansas.
Apptegy, an educational technology company that started in Little Rock and now has offices in the Riverdale area serving 2,700 customers, is partnering with the Venture Center in the effort, which will begin next month.
VCTech will host quarterly networking events and is designed to promote awareness of Arkansas-based tech startups and build on the state’s tech innovation heritage.
The Venture Center, recognized globally for its efforts to promote and improve financial technology start-ups, says the initiative is an effort to highlight that it offers support for the wide range of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the financial sector. State and that it is not limited to a fintech orientation.
“As we’ve evolved as an organization, we’ve felt like we were a little myopic in focusing on fintech,” said Venture Center executive director Wayne Miller. “It’s not that we’ve lost track of more tech-focused start-ups, but we’re just not seeing the statewide participation in the Venture Center that we’ve seen historically.”
The initiative will offer meetup-style events to promote networking and mentorship opportunities and raise awareness of the support system offered by the Venture Center and other technology-focused companies operating in Arkansas.
“We know the tech companies are out there, but sometimes it’s like the needle in the haystack trying to find them,” Miller said. “We want to open that door for companies that are more technology-driven and forward-thinking so those people know there’s a place they can come to access the resources that will help propel them to success. “
VCTech kicks off Aug. 2 with an initial event from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Venture Center offices in Little Rock Technology Park, 417 Main St. Tech-focused start-ups or entrepreneurs — or those looking to mentor attendees – – can get more details at venturecenter.co/vctech.
Each quarterly session will feature an Arkansas tech startup founder, the company demonstrating how their product works and telling the story of their journey from founding to operational success.
Apptegy is a great example of a success story in Arkansas. The company was started by founder Jetson George in his home and was sparked by George’s discovery that local schools lacked a centralized tool to share course information and educational efforts with students’ families. . The company now has more than 200 employees supporting school districts in all 50 states and internationally.
These stories can be vital in stimulating interest in the state’s tech community, Miller notes. “We want that energy to replenish around the sector,” he added. “If what you’re doing is good contractor work, we want the ability to be helpful and useful.”
PPP: DID IT WORK?
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has released a new report examining the effectiveness of the Federal Paycheck Protection Program, an $800 billion lending initiative launched shortly after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in the spring of 2020.
As businesses closed and employees were laid off, Congress implemented the Loan Forgiveness Program, administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration, to provide financial relief to small businesses and help them maintain payrolls. , to rehire employees who have been made redundant and to cover key overhead costs. expenses.
The Fed’s report, which draws on a study of PPPs published by the American Economic Foundation, focuses on two key questions: whether the program was timely and whether it was targeted.
The verdict? Timely, yes, coming as many small businesses have been shut down completely for public health and safety reasons. Targeted, not so much.
“The PPP was a very significant and very timely fiscal policy intervention, saving around 3 million jobs at its peak in the second quarter of 2020 and handing out a good $800 billion within two years of the onset of the covid-19 crisis. “, said the Fed. reported. “But it was poorly targeted, as nearly three-quarters of its profits went to unintended recipients, including business owners, creditors and suppliers, rather than workers.”
Rank and file workers were at the bottom of the list of major beneficiaries of PPP spending. Small business owners, their suppliers, and banks that increased loan volumes and collected loan fees gained more financial benefits.
The results noted that PPP loans boosted business employment by 4-10% in mid-May 2020 and 0-6% by the end of the year. “Only about a quarter of PPP funds supported jobs that otherwise would have disappeared,” the Fed analysts wrote.
The report indicates that around 2.97 million jobs per week were preserved in the second quarter of 2020 and 1.75 million jobs per week were preserved in the fourth quarter of this year.
In Arkansas, SBA records show that 102,054 loans were made under the program, totaling about $5 billion. The average loan size was $49,000.
SUPPORT FOR WORKFORCE TRAINING
Workforce training efforts in central Arkansas were boosted last week with the announcement that North Little Rock’s Pulaski Technical College is set to receive $1.35 million in grants from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.
Four technical programs will be supported: the collision repair and tractor-trailer operations programs received $400,000 each; the tractor-trailer maintenance and diesel technology program received $300,000; and the aircraft maintenance program received $250,000.
The school says it will use the funds to buy equipment, upgrade technology and improve virtual reality trainers and simulators.
“The items purchased will greatly benefit students by providing high-quality education that exceeds industry expectations,” said Angela Kremers, dean of the School of Technical and Career Studies. “Students will be well prepared for the job market and employers will benefit from an exceptional pool of employees.”
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