Kick-Ass Pricing on High-Speed Internet Access and an Educated High-Tech Workforce May Bring Success to Tacoma

“Kick-ass pricing on broadband Internet access, an educated workforce and reasonably priced office space were cited as keys to Tacoma’s tech success, during yesterday’s SST 2000 Conference.SST 2000, a day-long high-tech conference at the Tacoma Convention Center, brought together hundreds of internationally-recognized, as well as regional, leaders in technology, business, economic development, and government. The purpose was to raise awareness of Tacoma’s connectivity advantages as America’s #1 Wired City; to gain some insight into the city’s challenges and formulate strategies; and to network face-to-face.Keynote speaker Paul Schindler, the editor of Byte and Windows magazines, said he was very taken with Tacoma, but said to succeed in becoming a technology center the city must be bold. Schindler said pricing for broadband services on the Click! Network is excellent now, but Tacoma needs to give it away, if the city expects to really get the attention of new technology firms seeking a home.You’ve got to have the big vision, Schindler said, noting he learned that from Tacoma Internet entrepreneur Scott Bourne. He added the city should seek out new hot technologies that don’t have a home yet and work to become a center for one.Congressman Adam Smith, a member of the Internet Caucus and an active proponent of the benefits of the new high-tech economy, said Tacoma’s advantages include the telecommunications infrastructure, competition and choices created by Click!, AT&T, U.S. West, ATG and others; the low cost of living, office space and homes; and the quality of life in the area.The challenges are clear, Smith said, noting one is the perception of Tacoma as an industrial city. He added he had heard firms in Tacoma had an easier time getting venture capital in the Silicon Valley than in Seattle. Other difficulties for Tacoma to overcome include additional first class office space, a better high-tech trained workforce, and making the city a more hip place to live and more attractive to the young entrepreneurs seeking to locate their start-up firms, Smith said.Trade, and easy access to the Chinese and Asian markets play a critical part in Tacoma’s tech success too, Smith said.Congressman Norm Dicks called the conference tremendously impressive for the South Sound. Dicks acknowledged there is a need for more high-tech training in the greater Tacoma workforce, but added there is a sizable pool of labor currently commuting to jobs in Seattle and Bellevue who would likely be interested in working closer to home as positions open in this area.This industry really represents what’s going to happen in the 21st century, Dicks said. We want to foster this.Dicks also noted Tacoma’s proximity to SeaTac International Airport as being a favorable advantage for e-commerce development, a point echoed by others at the conference as being advantageous for trade – and obtaining venture capital.A daylong training session for economic development professionals covering high-tech-led economic development is underway today hosted by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce and the University of Washington Tacoma, to continue the momentum underway. A group of local Internet startups,, are hosting a high-tech start-up forum, Tuesday, June 6 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The forum will feature six local startups which will each make a presentation and discuss venture capital funding needs and possibilities.The forum will be at the auditorium at 728 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma.”