High-Tech Takes Center Stage as Economic Development Training Focuses on Tech Issues

“New tools, greater cooperation between government, economic development entities, higher education and the private sector – and even a closer relationship with Seattle – are steps to attract and keep high-tech firms in the South Sound.Following on the heels of the SST 2000 Conference Wednesday, a daylong training session for economic development professionals met yesterday at the University of Washington Tacoma.The session brought together around 50 economic development specialists from government, the private sector, and development agencies around the South Sound region, and beyond. Attendees came from as far away as Aberdeen and Bellevue, according to Paul Ellis of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce.There were two purposes for the session, Ellis said. Number one was to help all the economic development people understand what technology firms need to locate here, or to retain them once they’re here. Number two was to get economic development specialists together so they could talk with each other.I think we were extremely successful in both regards, Ellis said.The session pointed out just how critical it is for economic development professionals to learn the specific needs of high-tech firms if an area is to successfully attract and retain them, Ellis said. The tools utilized traditionally by economic development specialists to attract industry are not the right ones anymore, Ellis said. He added more contact with Seattle, not less, might help overcome perspective problems, and lead to attracting more business south down the I-5 corridor.The training, led by Walter Plosila, vice president for public technology management at the Battelle Memorial Institute, covered topics including new economy entrepreneurs; the role of government; higher education, technology transfer and commercialization; high-tech workforce issues; the area’s business climate and financing issues.Plosila was joined by Nhanced Media Corporation’s CEO, Scott West, and President, Jon Taber. The training session was capped by a tour of Nhanced Media’s offices in downtown Tacoma, with presentations by staff on marketing, sales, and technology.The training session was sponsored by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, the University of Washington Tacoma, and the City of Tacoma Economic Development Department.”