Conference explores high-tech possibilities

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 29, 2000

Diane Bailey welcomed Monday’s technology conference with open circuits.

Tuesday, August 29, 2000

Diane Bailey welcomed Monday’s technology conference with open circuits.

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"What’s coming up, all of it, it will be linked to computers," said Mrs. Bailey, who runs ATM Computer Consultants in South Point.

And, those computers need to be linked to the rest of the world – a major, yet important, challenge to meet, she said.

Mrs. Bailey’s business is Internet-based and could be sped along with more high-speed phone or cable connections, broadband technology, everything that’s in most major metropolitan areas of the country.

"We need that to get us headed in the right direction, to get Appalachia connected with the outside world."

That’s exactly the point, said U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, who organized and emceed the high-tech conference at Ohio University Southern Campus.

"We can’t afford for the region to be overlooked," Strickland said.

It’s similar to the uneasiness people feel about not having a Chesapeake Bypass, he said.

"Five to 10 years from now we will be bemoaning the fact we don’t have the technological roads," he said. "What we need in my judgment is a national commitment to provide universal technology to every home and community, just as we made the decision to make electricity universal."

Strickland specifically wants southern Ohio wired for high-speed Internet connections with entrepreneurs, new companies and educators leading the way.

During several sessions Monday, representatives from FrogNET,, Ohio University, Horizon Telephone in Chillicothe, Buckeye Rural and others spoke about ways to make it happen.

Educators and education leaders spoke about how to prepare children to meet the demands of a technology-driven work world.

An economic development director from Washington spoke by video conference on the importance of changing local economies to meet the high-tech demands of the global economy.

Mrs. Bailey said she found the strategies comforting.

The area needs about anything to help small business take advantage of e-commerce, especially more Internet access at faster speeds, she said.

Ironton schools superintendent Steve Kingery agreed, adding that he appreciated the tough questions asked at the conference.

"I do think the capability is vital if we’re going to grow the economy," Kingery said.

Ironton’s classrooms are linked together but the infrastructure slows the system down, for example, he said.

"We have modern computers but the infrastructure is not capable of handling our load I would imagine businesses are seeing the same thing."

Building that infrastructure, the wires or wireless routes for Internet traffic, was one of the conference’s biggest objectives, Strickland said.

"My goal is not to favor any approach but encourage those who want to make it happen," he said.

Strickland also told those attending that his office would work with individual communities to uncover the needed resources to make technology happen.

"We want to get each county in our Congressional district to begin planning on how to get high-speed Internet access ," he said. "I also will reach out to other members of Congress to create legislative incentives for private companies. We must see ourselves as a region work together to accomplish this."