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    "Hawaii - Could We Be
    the Next Silicon Valley?"

       (Ghostwritten article)

        Time for a quick quiz: where's the best spot in the world to plant a high-flying, high technology company? One that's making a big noise in the computer industry, on Wall Street, and in world markets?

        That would be the fabled Silicon Valley in northern California, right? Not any more - if you're a local reader, you are sitting in the state that could be the best possible answer to that question. It's the State of Hawaii, due to a very fortunate confluence of factors, that has the opportunity to be the next super-corridor of the high tech world.

        The global economy is fundamentally shifting, from manufacturing- to information-based, because of the Internet. This means we are interconnected as never before. More and more, all the people around the world that log on to the Internet are doing so to buy something.

        You have companies that connect all their employees with all of the corporate data. There's enormous use by banks and other financial services that move their ATM and inter-company transactions over the Net. The Internet today has already become a backbone of the world economy.

        Technology industries, and specifically Internet companies, run the whole show in the back room by plugging all the pieces together and charging what amounts to billions of dollars for the services. This presents Hawaii with an opportunity that carries many gifts.

        The industry's workers are educated, prosperous professionals, who by the nature of their education and skills are welcome, responsible and respectful additions. It's an industry that needs little from Hawaii's natural resources, while it adds significantly to the state tax-base and other avenues of economic growth.

        Silicon Valley's Limitations

        Santa Clara County, California, better known as Silicon Valley, has costs of living and real estate that are the highest in the country. Its cost of living index is 2.27 times higher than the U.S. average and the price of a typical three bedroom home falls in a range over $604, 000.

        That, in turn, affects by one of the industry's biggest problems - the scarcity of the skilled professionals required by this field. There's a tremendous demand and very short supply of these workers, the vital cogs in this highly profitable machine. Companies are scrambling to entice the high tech educated and skilled.

        Finally and very importantly, Northern California's vaunted Internet bandwidth (MAE West specifically,) is beginning to be overtaxed. Silicon Valley is bursting at the seams, and its information industry needs to expand into a new environment that can support its full growth potential.

        The companies that are driving this phenomenal information economy are actively seeking new locations. One thing the Internet changes is the eternal value of "location, location, location" - it doesn't matter where a high tech company is any more. Customers on the Internet don't know, and don't care, if it's located in Palo Alto, NYC, or Maui. What's important are how people know about a website and, crucially, that it's always online and quick to load.

        Hawaii's Unique Advantages

        Internet companies are a new breed, "fast" companies that serve their customers from anywhere and everywhere at any time. Location is irrelevant to them, as demonstrated by Amazon in Seattle, Dell in Austin, and Lycos in Boston.

        Fast companies look to three major issues in regard to location, relocation or expansion.

        1. Network infrastructure
        2. Work and life environment
        3. Real cost of doing business

        Hawaii has such extraordinary advantages in each of these categories that it's a treasury of riches waiting to be tapped. Wisely managed these riches will multiply into further economic opportunities. This state has an immense resource in its fiber-optic cable network; is a geographic gold mine by virtue of its location between the mainland and the Pacific Rim, and it has a natural environment that is second to none.

        Its major appeals drawing Silicon Valley companies are:

        • Property costs are in many cases as much as one-third less in Hawaii than in Silicon Valley.
        • The cost of living index is around one-third higher in Palo Alto, California, than in Honolulu.
        • Hawaii's four undersea fiber optic cables directly extend to and connect North America, the four major Asian markets, Singapore, the Philippines, Australia, Malaysia and more. Not only is it underutilized at this point, it's available to expand.
        • Its centralized geography between the Far East and the mainland makes Hawaii an attractive locale when face-to-face meetings must occur - and the quality of life it offers isn't too shabby, either, for those that choose to stay.

        As a series of islands, the state is not only physically disconnected from the rest of the country but even from itself. This unique geography allows Hawaii to be an example to the other states by demonstrating innovative solutions to universal challenges. The Internet is waiting to prove itself the perfect glue to pull the disconnected pieces together.

        The time is now for the state to create a totally comprehensive, sophisticated method to gather information about the wonderful opportunities it offers. Hawaii, if it understands what advantages it has and how it can leverage them, can redefine itself from Paradise Island to the "High Tech Paradise."

        An article ghost-written by Bill Ross for the President of Redline Media, who was promoting this cause back when Silicon Valley was too busy. It was published, in print only, in a Hawaiian newspaper in October, 1998.


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