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February 28, 2014

Phoenix working on bipartisan technology roadmap, tech summit

By Hayley Ringle, Reporter | Phoenix Business Journal

A bipartisan group of current and former Phoenix, county and state leaders want to bring a technology summit to the Valley later this year after creating a plan to discover best practices, gaps and areas Phoenix can excel in.

The Phoenix City Council Finance, Efficiency, Economy and Sustainability subcommittee approved the initial plans Wednesday, and the roadmap report could be completed by September, said Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio.

“Our ultimate goal is to get the City of Phoenix prepared for the new global economy, create job stability and diversify our economy,” DiCiccio said. “That’s really what we’re looking at. It’s exciting.”

DiCiccio collaborated on the proposal with former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, County Vice Chairman Steve Chucri, State Representative Tom Forese, Linda Rizzo, director of community outreach for U.S. Representative David Schweikert’s office, and Phoenix Councilman Michael Nowakowski.

“Utilizing the newest technologies available will not only create efficiencies, but will also attract new business development to our city,” Nowakowski said in a statement.

In preparation for the tech summit, committee members will first put together a best practices assessment to check out what’s working around the country and the world.

An internal assessment will come next, figuring out how the state matches with these identified best practices.

Then, once the committee discovers those gaps and areas the state excels in, two or three subjects will be chosen that the state can really focus on and expand, such as education or medical, DiCiccio said.

“We asked the committee to view technology just like you’d view streets, water and sewer,” DiCiccio said. “Technology needs to be part of our infrastructure plan. The idea is to pull it all together and see what we need to do.”

Phoenix Councilman Bill Gates, the subcommittee chair, said the work will likely be done by the Advancing Technology Task Force, a group that has not yet been appointed but could be rolled over into his subcommittee.

“How can we improve tech infrastructure to save money, provide better services at a lower cost and how can we create an environment to get the best possible services?” Gates said. “And finally, how can we create a friendly environment where tech employees want to live and tech companies want to locate?”

Once the roadmap is completed, the Phoenix City Council will decide whether to approve it, and then the tech summit can be organized, DiCiccio said.

The best thing about the plan is the bipartisan collaboration, DiCiccio stressed.

“It’s a great start,” he said. “Think of the messages you’re sending. Every level of government is putting together a plan to bring in new jobs and help expand the jobs we have.”

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