State of Ohio Commits Funds to Keep Up With E-Commerce Tide

Ohio government officials and private industry leaders will commit more than half a million dollars over the next three years to developing an e-commerce plan for the state. The program, which is intended to keep Ohio ahead of the e-commerce curve, will receive $450,000 (US$) in state funds.

More than 50 Ohio business, industry and government leaders held a ceremony at the Ohio statehouse in Columbus to kick off the initiative, called ECom-Ohio. The ECom-Ohio group claims that Ohio is the first state in the country to launch a cooperative effort to invest in an electronic commerce structure for the entire state.

Statistics from the State New Economy Index rank Ohio 33rd of the 50 states in their transition to an information economy. “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,” Taft Science and Technology Advisor Glenn Brown said. “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.”

Building E-Roads

The cooperative effort will start with an assessment of where Ohio stands in the e-commerce universe today and what companies and the government need to do to foster growth. ECom-Ohio will use benchmarks established by the Computer Systems Policy Project in 1998.

A consortium of Ohio institutions will help implement the project by gathering data on and observing the operation and use of electronic infrastructure in Ohio. The implementation team includes Ohio Supercomputer Center, The Ohio State University, the University of Akron, Cleveland State University, Youngstown State University, Ohio University and the CAMP-Access Center for Electronic Commerce.

“Ohio must have the necessary electronic infrastructure to be a full and active partner in global electronic commerce,” NCR Corp. Chairman Lars Nyberg said. In addition to upgrading its infrastructure, other participants argued that the state must work to involve small and medium-size Ohio companies in electronic commerce.

Nyberg and Roderick G.W. Chu, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, are co-chairmen of the ECom-Ohio steering committee. Other members include PricewaterhouseCoopers, Keane, Inc., the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Sterling Commerce, Cincinnati Bell and the Ohio Cable Telecommunications Association.

The Ohio Department of Development will provide $150,000 in funding per year for three years, and the Ohio companies each agreed to supply $20,000 per year for three years. The project is housed at Ohio Supercomputer Center, a computing and networking resource company.

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