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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 5, 2000

Governor Ryan Presents Illinois VentureTECH Funding Report To General Assemby

SPRINGFIELD - Governor George H. Ryan today pushed for support of his budget proposal to allocate $1.9 billion in state spending over the next five years through his Illinois VentureTech program.

"With the $1.9 billion in state spending- plus an additional $800 million in state-directed venture capital - we can help nurture science education, biotechnology, R & D, information technology and advanced physics," Ryan said. "I hope the General Assembly finds this report helpful and informative. It's our investment in our future," he said.

Ryan presented to the legislature his VentureTECH report, which describes each of the many elements of the program and demonstrates how each piece fits together in the initiative. The report is broken down into the five components of VentureTECH: Education and R&D, commercial information technology, health science and biotechnology, government technology projects, and venture capital.

According to industry experts, the five fastest-growing occupations in the next decade will be computer engineers, computer support specialists, systems analysts, database administrators and desktop publishing specialists. As technology changes employees, Ryan believes government can lay a strong foundation to stimulate and support the private sector.

Studies show that 68 percent of adults "occasionally" use a computer at home, at school, or in the workplace, an increase of 59 percent from just four years ago. In all, the workforce spends an average of 21 hours every week online.

"Productivity at work is increasing, thanks to technology," Ryan said, with an average annual increase of 2 percent for the last several years. "Those are all good numbers, but in Illinois we recognize that to stay current with those trends," he added. VentureTECH is expected to expand Illinois' role in the New Economy of the 21st Century.

Illinois expansion in this five-year plan provides for $343 million to enable the state to build the Illinois Century Network. The Illinois Century Network will link schools, libraries, museums, laboratories, businesses, homes and government offices throughout the state. In addition, VentureTech provides:

  • $192 million over five years for technology education programs in elementary and high schools;
  • $80 million for a new post-genomics biotechnology institute at the University of Illinois in Urbana;
  • $30 million for a biomedical research facility at Northwestern University's Chicago campus, a project that will leverage $170 million in other funds;
  • $19 million at the University of Illinois for a new microelectronics laboratory, $8 million for a new computer engineering lab and $31 million for a new building to expand the National Center for Super Computing Applications;
  • $8 million for rural health telemedicine systems run by Southern Illinois University and $3 million for the Center for Safe Food for Small Business at the Illinois Institute of Technology; and lastly,
  • $400 million in technology management improvements within state government to boost productivity, increase taxpayer access and make our offices more efficient.

"To me, the most exciting part of the VentureTech program is the "venture" nature of it," Ryan added. "Over the next four years, state government will put its money where my mouth is and commit $800 million in venture capital toward new and emerging high-tech businesses in Illinois. And it is expected that VentureTech will spur an additional $1.9 billion in private investment within the Illinois economy," he said.

State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka and officials, who run three of this state's public employee retirement systems, will direct funding toward start-up technology firms. "Success takes a partnership between government and the private sector to jump-start research, manufacturing, education and the workforce. And that's what we're doing in Illinois," Ryan said.


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