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Research, development tax credits vital to NH businesses, Rep. Kuster says

MILFORD — Companies that make products in New Hampshire and export them for sale overseas are exactly what the United States needs more of, and research and development tax credits can give businesses an opportunity to make that happen, Rep. Annie Kuster, D-NH, said during a tour of Airmar Technologies on Monday.

The family-run business, started 30 years ago by Stephen Boucher, manufactures high-tech products, including the portable Airmar WeatherStation used in the fishing and agriculture industries, and other ultrasonic sensors that do everything from detecting lightning to finding fish.

Boucher, CEO of the company, said that some of the projects, including a cooperative effort between Airmar and students at Plymouth State University to create a lightning detector, wouldn’t happen without the research and development tax credit that takes out some of the financial bite of creating new technology.

Last year, President and Chief Operating Officer Matt Boucher, Stephen’s son, estimated the R&D tax credits saved the company $200,000 — enough to fund a medium-sized project.

But because the fate of the tax credit is perennially in question, companies like Airmar can’t rely on it, said Kuster, and that uncertainty prevents businesses from investing in research and development, and also keeps them from hiring employees.

“The R&D tax credit expires at the end of the year,” Kuster said. “But I’m working in Congress to make sure we extend it and make it permanent.”

By allowing companies to grow through new developments in technology and increases in the manufacturing base, the United States can compete with countries like China. Airmar is currently producing equipment to be used by China’s fishing fleet, bucking the trend by exporting to emerging markets, Boucher said.

“We want to see more products being made right here in New Hampshire and shipped overseas to China, Norway and Japan,” Kuster said.

Her push for a permanent tax credit is part of an economic agenda called “Make it in America” that Kuster and other members of Congress are promoting. The four key strategies of the agenda are to establish a strategy for increasing manufacturing on a national level, promoting the export of goods made in America, encouraging businesses to bring jobs back from overseas, and training the American workforce to handle the challenges of the high tech world.

“This is a local family creating innovative products that around going around the world,” Kuster said of the Bouchers and Airmar. “This kind of business is an important part of our quality of life and our economy.”

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