Advertisement

Pennsy governor betting $13 million on high-tech

June 11, 1999

Instead of offering companies land, buildings and sewer hook-ups to relocate to Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Ridge is betting that they'd rather have information instead. It will cost the state $13 million to find out if he's right, but if the initiative succeeds, it could create as many as 1,500 jobs in high-tech industries.

In announcing the plan, Ridge said the state is making a conscious effort not to do job development the way it's been done in the past. Instead of buildings, the state will invest in research and training in a new product called "system on a chip."

According to Associated Press reports, the technology involves replacing several chips that perform individual functions with a single, more versatile chip that can do many things at once. Ideally, it should require less power and make it possible to produce smaller devices, like handheld computers, that can do more than larger machines did in the past.

Advertisement

To begin the process, the state has signed up two Japanese electronics firms, including Sony Corp. and Ohi Electric, Cadence Design of San Jose, Calif. and three state universities to do research and design of the advanced chips.

The universities, including Carnegie Mellon, the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State, will all add graduate and undergraduate programs in the design of these new multi-purpose chips. Graduates of those courses would likely be recruited by the three companies, and if successful, land permanent jobs there.

This program is remarkable because although paying companies to train workers is a common enough "perk" on economic-development circles, this is the first instance we're aware of in which a government has paid for research on a product it hopes will later be manufactured in the state.

Cadence, which manufactures software to take adavantage of the new chip's capabilities, envisions a large design center where companies could work together to make the chips, according to Ridge. That sounds good, but we hope this agreement has clause stating that research paid for by Pennsylvania's taxpayers must be used to create jobs in Pennsylvania.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|