Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) visited a Plainview technology company Friday to push for expanding a research and development tax credit to encourage innovation and job creation among small businesses.

"By supporting research and development, we really are making the investment where it will have the biggest bang for the buck," she said at a news conference at Clever Devices, a provider of transit technology solutions. The company employs about 170 workers.

The current tax credit, which is temporary but was extended last month for another two years, ranges from 14 percent to 20 percent of research and development costs. Gillibrand proposed making it 20 percent, simplifying complex formulas used to calculate the amount and making the tax credit permanent.

Gillibrand said expanding the credit could create more than 162,000 jobs nationwide, according to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington think tank. "It's a highly complex tax credit that a lot of small businesses just choose not to use because they don't understand it," she said.

Frank Ingrassia, president and chief executive of Clever Devices, said the credits have helped the company grow and compete against European, Asian and Australian competitors over the past several years. But he said the company had to rely on "a small army of lawyers and accountants who analyze this every year for us" to take advantage of it.

The credit has been extended 14 times by Congress since 1981, Gillibrand said. Making it permanent- which President Barack Obama has also called for - could spur private investment in research and development by about $7.5 billion nationwide, she said.

Joining state and local elected officials at the news conference were executives of other companies who would benefit from expanding the credit, including Hauppauge-based aircraft-parts maker GSE Dynamics.

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