Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Press Conference on Technology Education Initiatives
January 16, 2001

Thank you Chancellor Carwein. It's really great to be here and to know that just last year was the 10th anniversary of the University of Washington Tacoma. There are many legislators here who served in the Legislature at the time we embarked upon the branch campuses. There are two in the audience that I think we ought to recognize, and those are Former Senator Marc Gaspard and former state representative and former mayor of the City of Tacoma, Brian Ebersole. Thank you very much for your vision for UW Tacoma.

Well, America's Wired City of Destiny is fast becoming a center of excellence for Washington's knowledge-based economy.

And technology is really creating tremendous opportunities for the citizens of Washington. Here we have to my left some 30 students who are in the computer science program. Just a year ago there were only 30 students in the entire program and now we have 30 students in just in one class alone. And so we know of the great potential of the knowledge-based economy and the impact it has in our state of Washington.

In the past five years, the household median income in our state has jumped by 20 percent, and much of that growth in the median income per family has been driven by technology. Forty percent of the total wage growth in the past five years has come from wages earned in the information technology sector.

But we simply cannot rest on our laurels. If we want to continue to spawn new technology companies, retain and expand the ones we already have, and attract new ones, we must wisely deploy our strategic resources, and that means in our kindergarten through 12th grade education system, our college systems, our broadband communications systems as well as our government.

And this knowledge-based economy depends on investments in higher education.

Of all of our strategic resources, none is more important than our higher education institutions. For example, the University of Washington's Computer Science and Engineering Department is ranked among the top 10 in America. It has spawned 10 new companies in just the last four years.

Both the University of Washington and Washington State University have outstanding biotechnology programs. Our regional universities have created innovative programs like the Internet studies center at Western Washington University. And they are all helping to advance this information technology industry.

We need to continue to build on these strengths. One way is to help secure the private funding that, added to state funding, will enable construction of much-needed facilities such as the Computer Science and Engineering Building at the University of Washington Seattle campus. Another is to increase the supply of knowledge workers.

In 1998, the Washington Software Alliance found the lack of skilled employees a huge obstacle to the growth of our information-based economy. Since 1997, the state has increased the number of high tech graduates and certificates from our community colleges by some 50 percent and from our public universities by 40 percent, so we are trying to respond to this need.

But we can still do a lot more.

In 1999, more than 6,000 high tech jobs were filled by citizens from outside the state of Washington. These are jobs in the state of Washington filled by people from outside the state. And an equal number of jobs went completely unfilled. So we have an opportunity to provide good paying jobs for the people of our state and we still have many more that need to be filled.

A technology institute at the University of Washington Tacoma can make a major contribution in meeting this need.

In this biennium, over the next two years of our budget cycle, I'm proposing that we invest some $7.5 million in state funds, matched with $4 million from the private sector, to establish the University of Washington Tacoma Technical institute. Do you support that? (applause) This public-private partnership will put us on the path to produce 1,000 graduates per year in the emerging and expanding areas of technology. And we hope to have those thousand graduates a year by the end of this decade.

This proposal will also yield other valuable dividends.

The University of Washington Tacoma and the region's community and technical colleges have agreed to provide for seamless transfers from our two- to four-year institutions. Smooth academic transitions will ensure that students can learn valuable skills and work efficiently toward a four-year degree as they move through the system at their own pace.

This, combined with a strong mission of outreach to communities, will create new technology career opportunities for women, minorities and disadvantaged citizens.

And the Tacoma location will help cement the city's role as a technology center, while serving as statewide resource for technology graduates.

This technology institute is only one of the key technology investments that we've proposed for the next two years. We are also proposing to invest $22 million to expand and start up new high-technology programs at all of our colleges and universities.

We're also proposing $20 million to help to keep tech faculty salaries and in fact the salaries of all of our four-year faculties competitive, to bolster technology interest and proficiency at the high school level, and to promote advanced research.

All of these investments are enormously important if we are to keep our tech economy booming and to give more of our citizens an opportunity to participate in this great new economy.

I want to just take a moment to thank many of our legislators who are here for their great support and their interest. I particularly want to mention Senator Kohl Welles and Representative Phyllis Kenney as well as the American Electronics Association because they really deserve some particular credit for understanding the challenges that we face. You know they got the ball rolling last summer and helped put together a group that eventually culminated in the technology education summit last September. And coincidentally that summit was held here in the state's most wired city, Tacoma. So they are true higher education leaders -- thank you.

I also want to thank the Washington Software Alliance, the Technology Alliance and the University of Washington for crystallizing the vision of a technology institute in Tacoma.

And finally, I want to thank the Intel Corporation for being the first private-sector investor in this proposed institute, in which they have pledged computer equipment valued at some $270,000 toward that $4 million private sector match and goal. Thank you very much. In fact, I understand that Intel's contribution to the University of Washington Tacoma this year alone is some $500,000 of which this $270,000 is a part. So thank you, Intel, very much.

Well we've laid out the plan. We have a lot of work to do. We need to convince the rest of the Legislature to support this and you've got a great start already with those legislators who are here -- Democrats and Republicans -- from not just the Tacoma-Pierce County area but from throughout the entire state of Washington. They understand the significance, the importance of information knowledge and how we need to increase the availability of information knowledge to our graduates -- people who are coming to school right out of high school, out of the community colleges or those who have been away from school for quite some time.

But we need your help in convincing other members of the Legislature to make this vision a reality.

I look forward to working with all of you here to achieve this vision of a knowledge-based economy… an economy that provides good paying jobs for every member of our society in every part of our state -- that's our goal, that's our mission. And so together we can expand high tech opportunities and economic growth for the citizens of our state.

Thank you all very much.
Related Links:
- Governor Locke's Proposed 2001 - 2003 State Budget
- Expanding Enrollment and Technology Programs
- Spreading the Benefits of High Tech Prosperity
- Washington's Promise Scholarships

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