Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
South Sound Technology 2001 Conference
May 30, 2001
Thank you for that kind introduction.
It's great to be back in Tacoma for this timely and important conference. There was a period of time, not too long ago, when the City of Tacoma was known more for smokestacks and heavy industry than High Tech and Higher Ed. That era has passed.
Now we're focused on growing technology-driven, fast-growing and high-paying businesses. We're focused on innovation as a way of life, and on using technology as a tool to power our prosperity.
Today, Tacoma and the South Sound are models for urban renewal and economic development. There are many people, many partnerships, and many businesses to thank for this transformation: Congressman Dicks, Congressman Smith - I salute you and the conference organizers, and the South Sound technology community for your leadership in bringing together such an outstanding group of speakers and for attracting such a large and varied audience.
If as President Kennedy said, "a rising tide raises all boats," then a vibrant, "Innovation Economy" benefits all citizens. The South Sound is an inspiration for what we need to do throughout the state to sustain and expand a vibrant Innovation Economy.
Regions as Innovators
All of you have wisely recognized the power of regions to generate technology-based economic prosperity.
Recently, the non-partisan Council on Competitiveness in Washington DC issued a report emphasizing that successful regions develop and capitalize on local strengths. These include skilled workers in specialized areas, broadband communications and regional networks connecting business with local innovations.
South Sound Initiatives
The South Sound region is on precisely this path.
Through the proposed Technology Institute at the University of Washington, Tacoma, closely aligned with the region's community and technical colleges and K-12 systems, Tacoma will greatly expand the regional base of tech-savvy employees available to local businesses. Thank you for the enormous support you all have shown for this proposal.
The Tacoma area is providing the bandwidth that technology-based and technology-dependent companies demand through the Click! and I-Net networks and the build-out of fiber optic telecommunications elsewhere in the region.
All of you are creating networks that facilitate access to information, specialized skills, and business support. But that can't be accomplished in a vacuum. Regionalism and partnerships are vital for success. The Tacoma Technology Consortium, the Tacoma Network, the South King County Technology Alliance, and the South Sound and Olympic chapters of WSA are excellent examples.
South Sound's Leadership in UWT Effort
These initiatives represent a combination of regional leadership, hard work and cooperation across political, geographic and sector boundaries.
I'm particularly impressed by the exemplary collaboration to convince the Legislature to create a technology institute at the University of Washington Tacoma.
By opening your pocketbooks to demonstrate real support you have gained credibility in the effort to convince the Legislature to fund the Tech Institute.
We cannot succeed without you.
South Sound as a Model for the State
These regional initiatives are laying the groundwork for technology-based prosperity in the South Sound region.
Over the coming weeks and months, I plan to initiate statewide discussions about the strategic choices we need to make. We all want Washington to become the state that technology-driven, fast-growing, high-paying businesses call home - the state where innovation is a way of life and technology is the tool that powers our prosperity.
But what we need are ideas with teeth and programs that really work. So how can Government act proactively in the new information technology culture?
I believe there are two very basic things that Government can do:
We must address the Digital divide, the disparity in income-levels of technology consumers
We must continue to make Digital Government more meaningful, more relevant by bringing more and more government services online.
The "Digital Divide" is an issue that's been with us since the inception of personal computers. How can we claim to be expanding our reach, identifying and assisting the disenfranchised, when the average Internet user is a young, well-heeled, white male? We have several "Digital Divide" programs in Washington - programs that:
Educate students of all ages in computer use
Have refurbished 8,000 surplus business and government computers and donated them to schools across our state
Allow high-speed access to the Internet and other digital learning tools in nearly 300 public school districts, as well as libraries and colleges
And, using technology, equalize access to advanced education in rural areas
Washington state is leading the country in building digital government, and has been out in front for the last three years as the nation's "Digital State."
All of our technology efforts within state government are important. They keep all of our citizens invested in the technology culture.
Our future-yours and ours-rests on our capacity to adapt and respond to change. We must stay ahead of the curve-which is the essence of the word, "innovate."
The South Puget Sound Basin will embrace all facets of the new culture of information technology.
We must and we will.
Thank you for your commitment, leadership, and persistent efforts to turn our dreams into reality. The people in this region and the entire state will all be better off as a result.