Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Silicon Shenandoah ... why not?

An idea that has been bantered around for a few years is the suggestion of developing the Shenandoah Valley into an eastern version of California's Silicon Valley, bringing clean technology and employment for our college graduates who often find they must go elsewhere to find jobs.

With companies fleeing California at a time that finds the state bankrupt and ever-increasing taxes breaking the backs of industry, is the time right to advance the idea of a Silicon Shenandoah?

James Madison University's ISAT computer school (Integrated Science and Technology) could anchor the northern end with Virginia Tech's computer science school anchoring the southern end.

Talking with young 20-something computer science majors, their first concern was the level of education and the fact JMU, if not Tech, would need to toughen its computer courses to compete with the likes of Berkeley and Stanford who have years of experience on Valley schools.

But could it be done? Would companies and higher education be willing to partner to bring that type of clean technology east?

Bob Kirchman, an architectural artist from Staunton, VA, who works with a variety of computer programs while pursuing his profession, weighed in on the possibility of offering more for our college graduate children:
Sadly, we're seeing a systematic attack by cash-hungry government on the engines of creativity that normally drive human progress.

Nowhere is this more true than in California, where increased taxation and regulation strangles all but the best and brightest. Still, Silicon Valley is home to a surprising number of start-ups. Human ingenuity always finds a way to excell even in the direst of times. Sadly, the growing burden narrows the number of winners. Here is where Governor McDonnell's Pro-Market Virginia needs to be promoted with increased vigor. Virginia could well become known as the state that refused to let opportunity die.
Using Governor Bob McDonnell's "Bob's for Jobs" as a base, Kirchman continued:
Governor McDonnell can continue to promote policies that allow many start-ups that would be impossible in California to gain traction in the Old Dominion. We've already become competitive with wine, why NOT technology too. Northrup-Grumman just placed their future growth here. Why can't the trend continue?

We have world-class universities, the Langly NASA facility, and an existing tech industry in Blacksburg and Herndon already. We have empty manufacturing plants in the valley that could be part of this creative renaissance. We have a good workforce that would allow some industries to localize their operations for both economic and strategic advantage.
Daring to dream the impossible ... why not? After all, Virginia was settled by those who dared to dream the impossible.

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