As the economy continues to weaken, public CIOs find themselves increasingly involved with economic development. The latest to join this small but influential group of government IT leaders is Colorado CIO Michael Locatis.
Last week, Locatis joined Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter on a two-day economic development mission to Silicon Valley, meeting with investors, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and executives from nearly a dozen information and communication technology (ICT) companies.
Ritter met with officials from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Facebook, Juniper, Google, Adobe, LinkedIn, Sun Microsystems, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP.
Ritter told Colorado reporters the meetings focused on educating companies about Colorado's tech sector, including the health and strength of the state's technology ecosystem.
"Colorado has a very low tax base," said Ritter. "We have one of the best-educated workforces in the country. We have a powerful mix of federal research labs and research universities, and we are No. 1 in the country for software engineers."
Locatis has been working with Ritter to streamline and consolidate the state's highly decentralized information systems. In an interview last year with Public CIO magazine, Ritter discussed how overhauling the way the state invested in IT systems would not only benefit government agencies, but the state overall.
President Barack Obama's appointment this week of Aneesh Chopra as the country's first federal CTO drove home the importance of linking together government, IT and economic development. While serving as Virginia's Secretary of Technology, Chopra focused on growing the state's tech economy. As federal CTO, Chopra is expected to highlight innovative technologies that can boost the country's economic competitiveness.