Thursday, October 9, 2008

Arkansas Gets It

In case the stock market hasn't been a clue, we're entering a really tough, competitive era - when only the fittest and most aggressive companies, cities, and states will survive. New York City is already forecasting a huge tax revenue hit, a precusor to what will happen all over the country.

Anyone who has tried to host a tech group meeting at a university or public owned facility knows how much hassle it is. While supposedly public property, it seems most schools and government entities make it difficult, if not impossible for small groups to get meeting facilities and create a positive tech environment (and you wonder why we're losing ground to other parts of the world?).

So last weekend, there was University of Central Arkansas and it's home city, Conway, going out of their way to sponsor a small software conference, pythonArkansas. What started out as a effort to host a small software meeting, ended up attracting 75 programmers from 4 neighboring states. Sure, central Arkansas doesn't exactly have a lot of tech buzz, but both the University and Conway seem to understand that the key to the future is to spur high-tech growth and education. The school waived all the bureaucracy found at most places and not only opened up several computer labs and classrooms, but even installed extra python software that was to be the focus of the meeting. The school even arranged the cafeteria to stay open to accommodate the meeting. And the Conway Chamber ensured hotel facilities and provided some cash sponsorship.

No place in DFW has been that accommodating where tech groups have to pay churches for meeting space. No place in Salt Lake has been that accommodating. Heck, all those places offer is higher costs and universities that could care less about the business community (except to collect donations).

Now that the internet allows small cities to be just as connected as big cities, the cities and universities that are accommodating and recruit tech will be the ones to win out. As a small business owner I came away with a highly favorable opinion of little Conway, AR and the University of Central Arkansas. They get what it takes to be a winner in the new business era. I like being someplace that appreciates us.

No comments: