The state of Arkansas is investing $1 million in discretionary funds over the next two years in a 50-50 partnership with the financial tech company FIS, to continue a program meant to bolster start-ups in the industry.
Governor Asa Hutchinson said he’ll also ask the legislature for $2 million to expand the accelerator concept to industries beyond the financial sector. He made the announcement Wednseday at FinTech’s Accelerator Global Investor Demo Day at the Clinton Presidential Library.
Speaking to reporters, Hutchinson made the case for investing state dollars in private ventures like the FinTech Accelerator.
“We’ve identified what we believe will be benefits to the state. One, it strengthens a great corporate citizen and job creator in FIS. It also has spin-off technology companies that we hope will result from it,” said Hutchinson. "It brings talent here and this is a reasonable cautions approach to help build that technology investment and sector in this state.”
The Republican governor said the investment and use of state resources like the Arkansas Economic Development Commission is akin to other tech incubation projects he’s pursued. Hutchinson has made access to computer coding courses a hallmark of his stump speeches and mentioned this initiative on Wednesday as well. He emphasized that early-phase tech development is a sector that Arkansas has a chance to compete in.
“What this means is that we’re bringing the best talent from around the globe right here to Arkansas to help make the case that we ought to be the technology hub for our region,” said Hutchinson.
The accelerator program, facilitated by the Venture Center, engages 10 tech start-up companies for 12 weeks and provides an initial $50,000 investment. The state and FIS have committed to keep the program running through 2018.