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State and Local Tech-based ED RoundUp

October 26, 2001

Jefferson County, Missouri 

Its first economic growth strategy in more than a decade, the Jefferson County Economic Development Corp. has issued a plan aimed at attracting new businesses while supporting existing ones, an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The nonprofit's plan suggests acquiring land for industry and commercial development by working with farmland owners and getting municipal governments to delineate rural parcels. Among the programs detailed by the plan are a nonprofit business incubator which would offer low rent to start-up companies and a loan program for the companies. Much of the plan is geared to assist area small businesses, but it also would market the county's strengths, including its river and interstate access, to businesses across the U.S. The Economic Development Corporation presently is seeking grants to secure funding for the plan. 

Los Angeles, California 

An area in South Los Angeles devastated by riots in 1992 has been replaced by a 54,000-square-foot business incubator and technology center capable of holding 30 start-up companies, according to the Los Angeles Times. The FAME Renaissance Center, with high-speed Internet connections, video conferencing facilities and a 700-seat auditorium for community meetings and business seminars, will offer loans of $1,000 to $500,000 and up to $1 million through a venture capital fund. The creation of the center began in 1997, when FAME Renaissance received a $300,000 grant from the city's Community Development Department to purchase a 90-year-old building that once was a telephone switching station for Pacific Bell. The building subsequently was renovated with $6 million in state and federal grants and contributions. A waiting list of 100 companies exists. 

Newport, Rhode Island 

The state's first Academy of Information Technology – a four-year educational program meant to expose high school students to new technologies and prepare them for high-tech jobs – recently was introduced by the Rhode Island Technology Council (RITEC) at the Newport Area Career and Technical Center at Rogers High School. Students at the academy, the Providence Journal-Bulletin reported, will receive four years of training in high-tech skills and will be placed in internships with area high-tech businesses. Currently, 27 students are enrolled in the academy, where courses including web page design and multimedia skills training are based on a curriculum set by the National Academy Foundation (NAF), a nonprofit organization. RITEC and NAF expect to sign up to three new schools for the 2002-2003 school year. 

West Virginia  

Being encouraged by Sen. Jay Rockefeller in 2000 to increase funding for entrepreneurial development, business leaders will propose an advocacy group instead of a venture capital company, according to the Sunday Gazette Mail. The group will consist of existing venture capitalists and others wishing to help state business owners needing money for new ideas. Although mining and manufacturing traditionally have supported West Virginia's economy, the group serves to give the state a much-needed boost. The West Virginia Venture Connection is being considered as a name for the group.