Visions of High-Tech Sugarplums

By Potts, Gregory | THE JOURNAL RECORD, November 23, 1998 | Go to article overview

Visions of High-Tech Sugarplums


Potts, Gregory, THE JOURNAL RECORD


As a recent Newsweek cover story pointed out, Silicon Valley is no longer the be-all and end-all of the high-tech industry.

Large chunks of the software industry have always competed from Boston, and others have moved to Seattle, Austin, Washington, D.C., and smaller and lesser-known high-tech centers such as Salt Lake City, Champaign-Urbana, Ill., and Boise, Idaho.

Steve Kreidler, executive director of the Edmond Economic Development Authority, hopes Edmond will similarly be on the map someday as a small yet significant technology center. He believes the city is already on its way and will achieve a "critical mass" of 5,000 high-tech jobs and maybe 200 firms within 20 years. Of course, even Boise -- the smallest of the cities featured by Newsweek -- is twice the size of Edmond, so Kreidler is realistic about the scope of his vision for the city. "Our vision is not that Edmond would be Austin or Silicon Valley or Research Triangle {in North Carolina}," says Kreidler. "We want to be the Oklahoma equivalent of that. We are in a state of 3.3 million people. And geographically, we are not located next to mountains or beaches that would attract people." Since launching the high-tech Edmond HQ -- or "high quality" -- initiative three years ago, the city has become home to 1,600 jobs at about 35 high-tech firms, notes Janet Yowell, project manager for Edmond HQ. Boise and Salt Lake City also had HQ-type central plans for their high-tech development. Nonetheless, Kreidler and Yowell say Edmond HQ is not directly modeled after similar initiatives in other cities because Edmond's situation is different. This places the project ahead of schedule, already achieving what Kreidler expected would take between five and seven years to reach. Yet Kreidler knows that the city has to stay in it for the long haul. "It took Austin 20 years to get where they are now," he stresses. Kreidler points to several successes. * MasterMind Technology, recently named one of the nation's top Web design firms in Internet World magazine, serving such Fortune 500 clients as Fleming and MCI WorldCom. * Vialink -- formerly known as Applied Intelligence Group -- has a service which connects convenience store retailers with suppliers. * Avant Digital is working in the area of webcasting -- the broadcast of video on the Internet. The company also designs Internet banner advertisements for America Online and designed a promotional CD-ROM with the AOL software and a tie-in to the X- Files film. In addition, Avant designed the Web site for the Republican National Committee. * Dobson Communications and its Logix subsidiary provide wireless and land line phone service as well as Internet service. In addition, Seagate and Lucent have set up local customer service operations in the Edmond area. Kreidler believes Edmond has several of the key characteristics for success. One thing all high-tech cities seem to have in common is that they have a major research institution. While Kreidler realizes that Edmond's University of Central Oklahoma and north Oklahoma City's Oklahoma Christian University of Science and Arts are not in the same league as a Stanford or a Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he also figures in the city's equidistant proximity to Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma. Standout programs include UCO's new digital graphics major as well as OCUSA's engineering. …

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