"Don't let Ohio fall behind in the global economy," was the message sent to more than 50 of Ohio's business, industry and government leaders today during a special press conference at the Ohio Statehouse.
During the kickoff, key leaders in government and industry offered their commitment to work together to position Ohio as an e-commerce state through a project called ECom-Ohio. ECom-Ohio will assess Ohio's readiness for the digital economy of the future.
"E-commerce is creating a new and distinct boom in the global economy, and Governor Taft recognizes the need for Ohio to work in this area, " said Dr. Glenn Brown, the Governor's Science and Technology Advisor. "We must work together to become leaders in commerce and industry if the state hopes to compete in the global economy of the 21st century."
Members of Ohio's private sector echoed Brown's message.
" I strongly encourage my peers in the private sector to join in this endeavor to ready the state for e-commerce. Ohio must have the necessary electronic infrastructure to be a full and active partner in global electronic commerce. We have to be sure that Ohio is not left at the starting gate," said Lars Nyberg, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, NCR Corporation and co-chair of the ECom-Ohio statewide steering committee.
"Many small and medium size companies don't participate enough in e-commerce, but the Internet now allows any company of any size to participate in global commerce, said Kevin Sibbring, Director of Corporate Communications, Sterling Commerce. " We want to make sure that Ohio companies have the necessary electronic infrastructure in order to compete in the global marketplace."
Because E-commerce will be a key driver of the new economy, it is essential that Ohio develop and deploy e-commerce capabilities to ensure Ohio firms are globally competitive in the 21st century.
Ohio is the first state in the country to take on the challenge of developing the tools necessary to invest in its economic structure.
"ECom-Ohio provides one of the first opportunities to assess in depth a state's readiness to conduct e-commerce," said Joseph Lewis, partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers. "The project also will serve as a roadmap for other governments as they work to define their roles in the digital economy."
Recent statistics from the State New Economy Index adds emphasis to the need for Ohio's public and private sector to commit to this project, said Roderick G.W. Chu, Chancellor, Ohio Board of Regents. The study ranked Ohio 33rd out of 50 states in transforming to the new information economy.
"We must take the Ohio economy off 'auto and move forward to a new economy that is knowledge based and idea based." Chu said.
ECom-Ohio will use benchmarks established by the Computer Systems Policy Project in 1998. Still in formation is a statewide steering committee co-chaired by the Ohio Board of Regents' Chu and NCR Corporation's Nyberg. The founding members of the committee also include, among others, the Governor's Science and Technology Advisor, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Keane, Inc., Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Sterling Commerce, Cincinnati Bell and the Ohio Cable Telecommunications Association.
A consortium of Ohio institutions will help implement the project using six basic tools to gather data and real-time observations on the operation and use of Ohio's digital economy. The Implementation Team includes: OSC (Ohio Supercomputer Center), The Ohio State University, University of Akron, Cleveland State University, Youngstown State University, Ohio University and the CAMP-Access Center for Electronic Commerce.
Support for the project comes from the Ohio Department of Development ($150,000 per year for three years) and Ohio industry partners (each will offer $20,000 support per year for three years). The project is housed at OSC, the state's flagship high performance computing and networking resource.