State Senators David Long (R-Fort Wayne) and David Ford (R-Hartford City) hosted a legislative forum on economic development and technology at the Indiana Government Center. The daylong meeting included a series of 15-minute presentations from Indiana University, Purdue University, Ball State University, the Indiana State Library, as well as other interested groups.
“The Indiana General Assembly will convene for what promises to be a challenging session devoted to creating the state’s two-year budget,” said Ford. “Given Indiana’s $800 million structural deficit, legislators must focus more attention to revenue-generating projects. Technology is increasingly critical to any economic development plan.”
Nationwide, the information industry generated $1.2 trillion in 2001. Today, that number is $6.6 trillion. Part of the forum focused on ways to ensure Indiana capitalizes on the growth potential inherent in this broad industry, which includes cell phones, Geographic Information Systems, and the Internet.
“Online sales jumped from $500 million in 1998 to $500 billion in 2003,” said Long. “Clearly, Indiana must claim its share of this enormous pie. That’s exactly what this event was about.”
Statistics show that over 75 percent of Indiana households currently have Internet, but only 20 percent have broadband. This disparity demonstrates just one of the areas of the information technology market that the state possesses a large amount of untapped potential. Leaders discussed specific projects designed to bring broadband into every home and classroom.
As a part of the seminar, members from Indiana’s major universities updated legislators on the progress of the I-Light 2 project. A system of fiber optic networks connecting all of the state’s colleges and universities to IU and PU via a high speed internet connection, the project is designed to increase research capabilities and connect the state and its communities as a whole. Ford sponsored the bill that funded I-Light2 and maintains that this new network will put Indiana at the forefront of computing networks.
Long represents Senate District 16, which includes portions of Allen County.
Ford represents Senate District 19, which includes Adams, Blackford, and Wells Counties, as well as portions of Allen and Grant Counties.
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