Deputy Secretary Poneman tours Arkansas Power Electronics International as part of National Small Business Week. | Energy Department photo by Teryn Norris.

America’s economic leadership depends on small businesses, which create two out of every three jobs in the U.S. and help drive the technological innovation that ensures our long-term competitiveness.

Earlier this week, Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman traveled to Northwest Arkansas and toured Arkansas Power Electronics International -- winner of the Small Business Administration’s 2012 “Small Business Person of the Year” award and an ARPA-E grantee. In honor of National Small Business Week and as part of the Department’s commitment to job-creating startup companies nationwide, the Deputy Secretary also announced $11 million in innovative research and technology grants for nearly 70 small businesses nationwide.

These Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants support entrepreneurs like APEI -- companies that are developing the new energy technologies that will create new jobs around the country and improve American competitiveness around the world.  

APEI manufactures state-of-the-art power electronics used in electric vehicles, renewable energy systems and military aircraft. This game-changing technology has the potential to dramatically shorten the charging time for electric vehicle batteries while reducing their size by 10 times. The success of this startup company is just one example of how the Obama Administration’s energy programs have unleashed small business growth, and demonstrates the broader potential for energy innovation across the country. As the Deputy Secretary told Arkansas Business News, "The level of innovation and creativity here is equal to any I've seen.” 

To help support Arkansas’ full potential in the advanced energy sector, the Deputy Secretary also met with dozens of representatives from the state’s clean energy small business community to discuss ways in which the government and business sector can better partner to strengthen the state’s leadership in clean energy. The roundtable was organized by the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association, and participants included key players from across industry and government, including Mayor Lioneld Jordan of Fayetteville, AR; representatives from U.S. Congressman Steve Womack’s (R-3rd) office; the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce; and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

The Energy Department is committed to supporting small business innovation in Arkansas and across the country -- and with ongoing federal investments, the United States can lead the global clean energy race.

Read more about the Deputy Secretary’s Arkansas trip in this article in the Arkansas City Wire and the Fayetteville 5 News.