Saturday, December 4, 1999

Western governors
invite Intel, others into
high-tech alliance

By Pat Omandam


The Western Governors' Association -- led by Gov. Ben Cayetano -- has agreed to create a high-technology council to form a strategic alliance among Western states, technology firms and universities.

At the association's winter meeting in Las Vegas this week, Cayetano said the new council would create more competitive economies in the 18 Western states by building a stronger regional base.

"When you read about the knowledge-based economy and how it functions, you are struck by the fact that the nature of competition isn't what it used to be," Cayetano said yesterday in a statement.

"Companies still battle over market share in some areas, but they might just as easily be partners and allies somewhere else."

The governors asked officials from Intel Corp., Silicon Graphics and other companies to work with universities and the association to create a business plan they hope to approve early next year. A concept paper suggested that the council consist of 15 to 20 people from the information, health and bio-technology industries, alongside educators and government officials.

Intel President Craig R. Barrett said the chance to explore the range of issues facing the council will lead to greater innovation. Those include privacy and security of information, ethics, work force development and intellectual property rights.

Phil Englehardt of Silicon Graphics said businesses are interested in working with the governors and their states to provide insight on industry changes and directions that impact public policy.

Several governors urged that the council focus on the needs of rural communities, noting that in a new technological economy, agriculture, tourism and other traditional Western industries can benefit and find new markets and improve competitiveness.

Gov. Kenny Guinn of Nevada said state governments should also be involved with the council, to ensure that future administrations continue the work.

"If we could get direction out of this strategic forum, I think it would be worth its weight in gold," Guinn said.

The Western Governors' Association is an independent, nonprofit organization representing the governors of 18 states. Its annual meeting will be held in June 2000 in Honolulu.

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