Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Technology Alliance Annual Luncheon
June 4, 2001
Thank you Bill [Gates Sr.] for that generous introduction. You, Ed [Fritzky], Steve [Davis], Susannah [Malarkey], and the entire Technology Alliance board, staff and members have created a model forum for addressing the technology challenges and opportunities facing our state.
I am very pleased to be part of this forum today to take stock of Washington's technology-driven Innovation Economy -- where we are, where we want to go and how we will get there.
Where We Are Today
We can take great pride in Washington's accomplishments. The Innovation Economy is creating tremendous opportunities for our citizens. Technology anchors our largest, fastest-growing, and highest-paying industries. Technology is the engine of growth for the entire state economy. And technology is making every kind of business more competitive -- from Weyerhaeuser to Starbucks to the family farm.
Through a combination of smart choices, hard work, and -- let's be honest -- good luck, our state has become a leading center of innovation. The Progressive Policy Institute ranks Washington fourth in the nation as a "New Economy" state and it ranks Seattle third in the nation as a "New Economy" metropolitan area.
And the best is yet to come. We have many of the key ingredients for sustained growth - first-rate research institutions, a skilled and educated workforce, an entrepreneurial culture, a growing venture capital community and leadership in digital government.
Of course, some key challenges remain. The "Digital Divide," for example, 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 our state of Washington -- programs that:
Educate students of all ages in computer use.
Have refurbished 8,000 surplus business and government computers using prison inmates trained by our community colleges, 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 to our libraries, colleges and universities.
Collectively, these efforts are making a meaningful difference.
Despite our many assets, despite our impressive track record, we cannot take our technology-based prosperity for granted. Many other states are taking aggressive steps to create, attract, and sustain their own technology-based industries. They are raising the competitive bar.
Where We Need to Go
Therefore, we must act now to solidify Washington's role as an internationally competitive leader in technology, for both the short and long terms.
That's why I ask you, as the state's technology leaders, to join me in making the strategic choices necessary to make Washington state the 'Innovation State' -- the state that places like Massachusetts, Texas, and Virginia wish they could be.
The brochure that each of you received at your table outlines the basics of a strategy to realize this vision. Our state, our office developed this strategy in consultation with organizations such as AeA, the Technology Alliance and WSA, as well as many individuals too numerous to list.
Our strategic objectives are simple, but ambitious:
To expand all citizens' opportunities to participate in the Innovation Economy, wherever they live, whatever their background
To encourage the appropriate application of technology throughout all sectors of the state's economy
To foster the development, growth and retention of the state's current technology clusters as well as the emergence of new technology clusters.
How We Will Get There
To achieve these objectives, we need to move decisively to implement this Action Agenda:
We must strengthen our research institutions -- so that they continually renew our industrial clusters with cutting-edge science and technology, while creating the industries of the future.
We must build a workforce for the 21st century -- so that our companies can find the skilled employees they need and our citizens can find the satisfying, well-paid jobs they seek.
We must educate our children for the Innovation Economy -- so that every child has access to advanced courses in English, math and science, is fluent in information technology, and is prepared for lifelong learning.
We must expand telecommunications infrastructure -- so that every business and every individual has high-speed, broadband access.
We must encourage technology transfer, entrepreneurship and new business creation -- so that great ideas routinely become great businesses.
We must move our award-winning Digital Government to the next level -- to meet the ever-growing expectations of business and the public for responsive, effective, real-time government.
We must forge strategic partnerships among the business, government, education and nonprofit sectors -- to leverage the resources and foster the trust that will be necessary to take these actions.
We must communicate with key state and national audiences -- so that all of our citizens see their personal stake in a thriving Innovation Economy and so that nationwide, Washington is known as the place where every innovator in the country wants to be.
Over the coming weeks and months, I plan to engage in discussions throughout the state to define the specifics of this Action Agenda. I invite all of you to participate. We need you to help us really make a fundamental difference for everyone is our state.
Together, we can make Washington 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.
Thank you very much.