Frisco mayor picked for tech panel |

Frisco mayor picked for tech panel

BOB BERWYNSummit County CorrespondentGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY – Frisco Mayor Bernie Zurbriggen will be part of a sweeping statewide effort to spur advances in Colorado’s tech industry.Zurbriggen was appointed recently to the state’s first Innovation Council, bringing together 34 leaders from around Colorado. The panel, including private tech experts, academics and public officials, will focus on consolidating and reforming the state government’s fractured information technology operations.”I am honored that Governor Ritter invited me to join the Innovation Council,” Zurbriggen said. “This feels like déjà vu. We worked so hard from 1993 until 2002 to bring high speed broadband to the rural parts of Colorado. In most cases we succeeded, but there is so much more to do to deploy it effectively for all the citizens of Colorado. Telecom is a passion for me after my 36-year career in the industry.””We can vault Colorado into the nation’s technology elite,” Gov. Ritter said. “We’ll do it by using technology to save taxpayers millions of dollars and more effectively deliver services to people all across Colorado.”Zurbriggen said part of the plan could be the creation of a statewide video-conferencing network.”There’s a lot of gas and time being wasted by people driving around the state, going to meetings,” Zurbriggen said.The council will also work with communities that may not have the resources and the technical know-how to maximize the benefits of electronic connectivity, Zurbriggen added.Government involvement can help speed up private sector investment, he said, using Summit County as an example.Zurbriggen referred back to similar efforts in the late 1990s, when development of backbone infrastructure and community beanpole grants stimulated the competitive markets by using government as an “anchor tenant,” Zurbriggen said.”We drove the private sector to come in and provide services that we otherwise still might not have,” Zurbriggen said. Providers like Comcast and Qwest were dragging their feet on providing high-speed access in Summit County, he recalled. The council will have three primary subcommittees that will: n assist the state as it reforms and improves its use of information technology;n develop a strategy for spurring broadband deployment throughout the state, and; n support state government’s economic development efforts for the technology sector.The council will be co-chaired by venture capitalist Brad Feld, managing director of the Foundry Group; entrepreneur Juan Rodriguez, who founded StorageTek and Exabyte; and national telecommunications policy expert Phil Weiser, who teaches law and telecommunications at the University of Colorado at Boulder and is executive director of the Silicon Flatirons Program.The Innovation Council is expected to hold its first meeting this fall, with periodic recommendations submitted to Gov. Ritter beginning in 2008. Zurbriggen will serve as part of the broadband working group, which will have its first meeting on Nov. 16 in Castle Rock.Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at

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