Tuesday, March 27, 2001

Come Invent the Future!

Sitting in Silicon Alley, it's easy to hear about everything our city and state governments are (or are not) doing for those interested in the Internet, technology, new media and other related fields. And as much as we may read about industry-specific news, it's not always as easy to learn about what other city and states are doing. For instance, our largest neighboring state, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, has innumerable initiatives and incentives for business and economic development. I had the enviable opportunity of spending a solid 90 minutes with the distinguished and charming Governor on Tuesday, March 27th. We discussed the state of the industry in New York, the nation, internationally and in Pennsylvania. It was invigorating to speak with someone so forward-thinking about technology and its importance in our world (business, education and socially) - not to mention someone who also has the ability to implement many of these ideas.

There is, for instance, the Link-to-Learn program started by Gov. Ridge as a multi-year, $166 million initiative to expand the use of technology in the classroom. It includes new and upgraded computers for schools and high-tech training for teachers. Link-to-Learn is also developing a network of community-based networks called the Pennsylvania Education Network. On Thursday, the Governor announced that another 21 public and private colleges and universities will receive approximately $5 million in Link-to-Learn grants to expand and strengthen information-technology (IT) training for all of their students. Gov. Ridge also established enterprise applications for the entire state government and an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tool to replace its current integrated computer system. Now the entire organization can communicate and operate on a single, standard platform. There are high-tech councils in every region, tax-free KOZs (Keystone Opportunity Zones) and scores of websites with links, forms and more information about starting and maintaining a business in Pennsylvania than you could possibly know what to do with. The state's digital incubators, statewide, are successful examples of government assisting business growth. There are plans for more incubators in new technology areas like bio-tech. Gov. Ridge is also working with the top universities in the Commonwealth to establish more business-fostering relationships between education and business.

As we finished off our demi-plates of fruit and chocolate during our meeting room at the St. Regis, our chat ended with plans to meet again to explore more of what the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has to offer the citizens of the world (and the web)!