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New, Clean Technology Will Help Local Economy Turn Around


By Dave Gallagher
The Bellingham Herald
November 30, 2008


Nov. 30--New technology has been the way out of many recessions and economic
downturns, and this area is well-positioned to do just that.

Earlier this month The 2008 State New Economy Index was released, analyzing
which states are most embracing new technology and innovation. Washington ranked
second overall, trailing only Massachusetts. In recent years Washington had
ranked fourth. The study, put together by The Information Technology &
Innovation Foundation, looked at 29 different indicators and Washington ranked
in the top five in 10 of them. This state ranked No. 1 in online agriculture,
alternative energy use and value-added manufacturing. A link to the report can
be found at watechcenter.org.

The fact this state is ranked so highly in alternative energy use hit home for
me at a Nov. 21 TAG -- Technology Alliance Group -- meeting. Graham Evans,
director of Washington Clean Technology Alliance, hit on a variety of topics
about the continued need for new, energy-efficient technology and what
businesses can do to develop opportunities. What was striking to me was the
number of local businesses in attendance, companies that were already moving
ahead with interesting ideas, including Andgar Corporation, which is making
anaerobic digesters and geo-thermal installations, as well as Whole Energy Fuels
Corp., a biodiesel company.

Evans' focus of the presentation was that we're at a point where significant
change is need in order to tackle global warming issues and cut energy
consumption (thus saving money). What's great is that Washington state is at the
point where it can talk about cutting-edge and big-picture technology, whether
it's nanophotonics, smart-grid infrastructure, zero-carbon buildings or wind
mills on the ocean. It's stuff that not only would make a difference, but also
provides state businesses the opportunity to develop this work, creating jobs
and adding to our own economy.

One of the best ways for businesses to take advantage of the opportunities in
the growing clean-tech industry, according to Evans, is to identify niches.
Staying focused and developing that specific segment can make a company a leader
in that area, leading to growth and further development.

Staying on track in the clean-tech industry will also foster growth in other
industries in the New Economy that The Information Technology & Innovation
Foundation refers to in its study. The study noted that in the past, states that
were heavily invested in the New Economy tend to see less severe economic
slowdowns and play a bigger role in the robust growth when things turned around.

"This next wave of information technology revolution not only will transform
states, it will lead to significant new economic opportunities as (information
technology) companies seek out new business opportunities to create this new
digital world.," the authors of the study noted in its report.

So while the current national state of affairs has many dealing with the
economic doldrums, it seems as though Washington state's high ranking in the new
economy can get us out of it more quickly, creating new jobs in industries we
don't even know about yet.

 

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