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State and Local Tech-based ED RoundUp

June 06, 2003

Arizona Legislation to Encourage Tech Transfer Awaits Voters' Approval

House Bill 2403, a measure that ultimately would encourage technology transfer, has been signed by Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano and now awaits approval by voters. Passing the Arizona State Legislature in late May, the legislation provides that Arizona's universities may partner with private companies in business ventures. State agencies and organizations would be able to take equity investments in firms wanting to market products developed at the universities. Arizona voters will decide at the next general election whether to approve the change in the state's Constitution. The complete text of HB 2403 is available at: http://www.azleg.state.az.us/

Shreveport, LA Receives $1.05 million for TBED

The Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana has secured $1.05 million in federal funding to jumpstart tech-based economic development in Shreveport, The Times recently reported. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Economic Development Initiative Program is providing the funding, which will go toward obtaining land for the Foundation's InterTech Science Park and purchasing equipment for a $10 million wet lab incubator. Construction of the 60,000-square-foot incubator is expected to begin later this year. The Foundation promotes economic development by supporting enterprises that advance healthcare delivery, medical research and medical technology.

North Carolina's TDA Dissolution Approved

By a unanimous vote, the board of the North Carolina Technology Development Authority (TDA) has decided to dissolve the 11-year-old organization, unable to overcome the political and financial fallout from a 2002 state audit finding of financial mismanagement and inappropriate spending of $1.5 million. The organization, which runs a seed capital fund and a network of incubators, had received $19 million from the state over the years. "The Governor supports the dissolution of the TDA with the return of the assets to the state," Governor Mike Easley's spokesperson said in the May 31 issue of the News Observer (Raleigh). Several proposals are being floated to establish a new entity to provide similar tech-based economic development services for North Carolina.

Rural Utah to Get Broadband with $1.3 million from USDA

Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Thomas Dorr and U.S. Senator Bob Bennett recently presented checks totaling $1.3 million to two Utah businesses that have committed to developing rural broadband services in Utah. Skyline Telecom in Fairview, Utah received an $850,820 grant to provide broadband connectivity to the Goshute Indian Tribe Reservation located in Skull Valley in Tooele County. Uintah Basin Telecommunications Association, Inc. (UBTA), received two separate grants totaling $468,385 to provide broadband connectivity to the Northern Ute Tribe in Whiterocks, Uintah County, and the community of Altamont, Duchesne County.

Communities selected do not have access to broadband connectivity for essential services of police, fire protection, hospitals, libraries and schools. In return for receiving a grant, the communities will provide community residents with computer and Internet access. The grant program supplements USDA Rural Development's standard high-speed telecommunications loan program.

Vermont Creates Department of Information and Innovation

Vermont Governor Jim Douglas recently signed into law a bill creating the Department of Information and Innovation as part of the state's Agency of Administration. The creation of the department aggregates the efforts of Vermont's information technology (IT) employees, provides them with a prominent seat at the table of government, and creates a Technology Advisory Board made up of public, private and academic experts who will assist in guiding the state's technology development and implementation. State employees from existing departments will comprise the new Department, whose commissioner will also be chief information officer.

Entrepreneurs, Small Businesses to Benefit from VCEDA Programs

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) has approved two programs that will enable it to more effectively promote entrepreneurial development and small business growth in the coal-producing region, according to the Bristol Herald Courier. "The Entrepreneurial Development Matching Grant program, funded $50,000 annually for the next five years from the authority's undesignated money, would give matching funds to help entrepreneurs in the coalfield region grow businesses," the Courier reported. The second program, the Seed Capital Matching Loan Fund, will help startup and emerging small businesses by providing matching loan funds. Money for the fund, $50,000 a year for five years, also will come from the authority's undesignated money. VCEDA was created by Virginia’s General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the economic base of seven counties – Lee, Wise, Scott, Buchanan, Russell, Tazewell and Dickenson – and the City of Norton.