'Evergreen Apps' competition aims to spur regional economic development

Seattle, King County and Washington State are teaming up to offer more than $75,000 in prize money for development of apps that use government data and stimulate economic development throughout the state. State support comes from the Washington State Broadband Office which is a program of the state Department of Commerce. The challenge officially opens today and is open to anyone who lives, works or studies in Washington State.

“We expect to see some great apps that combine the best work of our dynamic private and public sectors,” said Rogers Weed, director of the Department of Commerce. “Washington’s digital economy, from broadband to software to e-commerce, is key to the state’s recovery, growth and resilience.”

Three events are scheduled to build momentum for the challenge and connect developers with like-minded competitors.

Seattle’s Office of Economic Development will host “City Business Casual” on Thurs., Aug. 9, focused on technology start-up businesses. It will be held at the Alexis Hotel’s Library Bistro in Seattle from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event is free and no reservations are necessary.

“Geeks on a Ferry” invites developers to ride the Washington State Ferry from Seattle to Bremerton on Tues., Aug. 14, between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. Participants will have free Boingo wi-fi on the ferry and then spend about five hours at the Kitsap Conference Center working on apps. The registration fee is $35 for professionals and $15 for students and includes the ferry ride for those who need it and dinner. Register online here.

Finally, Spokane is the site of the third event on Weds., Aug. 22, at Riverpoint Academy between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Developers will hear from ESRI and Socrata. Tickets include a light dinner. Registration is available online here.

“We’re coming together to encourage job creation and innovation here in Seattle and across the state,” said Seattle’s acting chief technology officer Erin Devoto. “If you’ve got an apps idea that can improve how we work, travel, play or learn, step forward and join the Evergreen Apps Challenge.”

Among the data sets that will be available for developers to use for their apps are three posted by Seattle, King County and Washington State.

“Apps solve problems for real-world people, written by real-world people,” said King County CIO Bill Kehoe. “Without a lot of investment, this is a great opportunity to take an idea from start to finish with the possibility of a cash reward at the end. It will be exciting to see what people come up with.”

The Evergreen Apps Challenge closes Thurs., Sept. 6, and awards will be presented on Mon., Oct. 1 in Seattle.

The Washington State Broadband Office is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and is charged with coordination, programming, and outreach on broadband issues including opportunities for funding. More information is online here.