May 14, 1998

Lila White
(804) 692-3110

Jill Lawrence
(804) 371-0049
Virginia Steps Up Support of High-Tech Companies
-- State to host the 1998 World Congress on Information Technology June 21-24 - -

Richmond - More than 1,500 of the world's top information technology leaders will gather in Northern Virginia for the 1998 World Congress on Information Technology in June 1998. Northern Virginia has the highest concentration of IT firms in the nation.

"With 2,500 technology companies and an industry that is growing almost 10 percent annually, we are proud to call Virginia the 'Information Technology State,'" Governor Jim Gilmore said. "With so many high-tech firms in our backyard, it's only natural that the World Congress be held in Virginia." Statewide, the number of technology firms has increased 9.2 percent annually in the past four years.

The 1998 World Congress on Information Technology, the biennial conference of the World Information Technology and Services Alliance, will be held June 21-24 on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax County, located 20 minutes from Washington, D.C. The conference provides senior-level executives the opportunity to meet and establish business relationships while learning about industry trends, emerging technologies and innovative industry developments. The conference attracts world leaders and leading industry executives, and this year's speakers include Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, Steve Forbes, Michael Dell, Alfred R. Berkeley, James L. Barksdale, Lawrence Ellison and Don Tapscott.

Conveniently located on the East Coast, and equidistant between Boston and Atlanta, Virginia employs nearly 290,000 in the high-tech sector. Technology jobs earned $13.8 billion in 1996, with an average annual wage of $47,507. U.S. Census data indicates that Virginia ranks sixth in technology jobs on a per capita basis, and its 14,000 technology establishments (defined as units with plants or operational centers, not firms) position the state in the nation's top ten in employment and establishments. By the year 2002, employment in Virginia's technology sector is expected to reach 413,000, with more than 24,000 establishments.

Internet service providers, including America Online, PSINet, and UUNet, have located operations in Northern Virginia, which is the birthplace of the Internet, a Federal initiative launched 20 years ago by the Pentagon. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership, through its ongoing recruitment efforts in recent years, has attracted world-class companies such as Motorola, Siemens, IBM, Toshiba and Gateway 2000. Last year, 261 companies announced expansions or relocations to Virginia, resulting in more than 20,000 direct new jobs and nearly $2.6 billion in capital investment.

At this year's 1998 World Congress, Virginia will invest $1 million as a Pinnacle Sponsor. "The Commonwealth of Virginia has long recognized the role information technology will play in local, national and international business," Governor Gilmore added. "Virginia's sponsorship will give its IT firms a first-rate opportunity to showcase their products and services, to ensure future success and prosperity for this great state."

In addition to hosting the 1998 World Congress, the state is initiating a number of programs to support and encourage growth of the information technology industry. Governor Gilmore will soon appoint the state's first-ever, Cabinet-level technology post to work with existing companies to service and promote the IT industry in the state. Organizations such as the Virginia Center for Innovative Technology, the Virginia High-Tech Partnership and the Virginia Microelectronics Consortium further support Virginia's existing information technology companies and work to link these companies with educational institutions across the state to prepare students for high-tech jobs in Virginia.

"Our programs and services will ensure jobs for all Virginians," Governor Gilmore said. "Our companies and our qualified workforce underscore Virginia's position as the 'Information Technology State.'"

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