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Legislator outlines goals for state's success in Info Age

A chance to talk about technology and learn where Minnesota may be headed turned out a large diverse crowd at a special meeting Tuesday. City and county staff and officials were joined by industry reps, business leaders, techies and others intere...

A chance to talk about technology and learn where Minnesota may be headed turned out a large diverse crowd at a special meeting Tuesday.
City and county staff and officials were joined by industry reps, business leaders, techies and others interested in the topic.
The Northland Technology Consortium (NTC) and the Minnesota High Tech Association put on the event, which featured State Sen. Steve Kelley, DFL-Hopkins.
The NTC is a nonprofit organization which provides the local technology community with a chance to learn, network and collaborate. The High Tech Association is a statewide technology trade group, representing all sizes of companies across a variety of industries.
Kelley is the industry acknowledged leading legislator on technology issues. He authored the Minnesota Telecom-munications Act and was behind appropriation legislation for Internet access for rural Minnesota.
"I love talking about this stuff," said Kelley, whose goal is to make Minnesota a technology state.
He outlined four goals to assure the state's success in the information age:
* Reform the telecommunication system by reducing costs for customers, increasing choices and access to advanced services.
* Invest a lot more in telecommunications infrastructure, especially in education, health care, libraries and law enforcement.
* Invest in the knowledge infrastructure. Kelley cited the new UMD library as an example, and said the state needs to invest in a virtual university.
* Invest in people. "We need to invest in English proficiency and literacy," he said. "Every single Minnesotan needs to be operating at full speed if we're going to succeed in the future."
Kelley also discussed the high technology initiative he authored with Sen. Richard Cohen, DFL-St. Paul.
One of its proposals calls for waiving out of state tuition to Minnesota universities for students with a B-plus or better average. He believes if Minnesota can attract the quality students they are likely to stay.
Finance is a big part of the initiative. "We need more research and development in Minnesota," Kelley said. He proposes putting $75 million in a research coalition with a goal of having it matched by private funds.
The initiative also advocates industry clusters especially in out state Minnesota, such as the aerospace industry in Duluth. "Adding software to Duluth also makes a lot of sense," he said.
Kelley concluded that technology is changing too rapidly for regulation. "Let the marketplace make the choices," he said, noting that was "a very un-DFL" position.

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