Tech leaders remain focused - East Valley Tribune: Business

Tech leaders remain focused

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Posted: Monday, November 14, 2005 5:06 am | Updated: 9:20 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Intel, Google and eBay have announced investments that will bring hundreds of jobs to the Valley. Progress is being made on the road map to making Arizona a bioscience center.

Phoenix-based ON Semiconductor has announced it actually will move some operations from Southeast Asia to the Valley, a rare reversal of the usual flow.

And the Arizona Legislature has approved tax and investment initiatives that will enhance the state’s techfriendly status.

So what more could the Arizona Technology Council, the state’s prime advocate for high technology, accomplish?

The new president and chief executive officer of the Tempe-based organization, Donna Kent, sees her job as building on the momentum.

"We’ve made huge inroads. My job is to advance that," she said.

A major component of her job will be to inform the public about the importance of hightech businesses to Arizona’s economic well-being.

Among her other goals are to expand the organization’s membership, currently about 500 corporate members, and to advance the council’s agenda in next year’s session of the Arizona Legislature. That program includes increasing state tax credits that companies receive for research and development.

Also high on her priority list is expanding training programs to encourage more high-tech companies to move here by offering them a skilled work force.

To achieve all of that will require collaboration with other organizations, including the Southern Arizona Technology Council, which promotes high technology in the Tucson area, she said.

Kent replaces Todd Bankofier, who became manager of Arizona operations of Ensynch, a Tempe-based information technology services company. Bankofier remains as chairman of the council’s board of directors, a nonexecutive position.

Kent is a 25-year veteran of Xerox Corp. and served as the the company’s top Arizona executive from 1996 to 2001. Then she formed her own consulting firm, Scottsdale-based Thunder Bay Consulting, which provided marketing and planning services to business clients.

She decided to pursue the tech council presidency at the urging of colleagues in the high-tech industry.

"I have been in technology for 30 years and was very active in the community during my years with Xerox," she said. "I have a combination of technology, business and community experience and knowledge of the education system, which was a good group of skill sets to move this agenda forward."

Ron Schott, the council’s interim chief executive, said promoting high technology is a job for all of the council’s members, not just the president.

"The president can set the vision and provide the leadership, but it will take the efforts of all the member companies to educate the Legislature and city officials about how important this is," he said.

Bankofier said there is plenty of work for the technology council and its new president to help prepare for the state’s centennial celebration in 2012.

"It’s important to determine what the state wants to look and feel like from an innovation and technology standpoint on our 100th anniversary," he said. "What technology industries will we focus on? What will the education system need to do to produce the type of workers we need to support that? What kinds of capital resources will be needed to fuel entrepreneurial activity?

"There is an important visioning process we need to go through."

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