Thank you, Governor King, for hosting this event and for the partnership we are about to launch. Your actions – and those of your colleagues in the state legislature such as Senator Kontos and Representative Cowger, as well as the partnering organizations represented here today and around the state – demonstrate well-founded interest and insights into our technology-based future.
I think it is clear that Maine gets it when it comes to the role of technology in our New Economy. You are to be congratulated.
Once it was clear that discussions between Maine and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which I oversee, were leading to an expanded partnership, I made it clear that I wanted to be here for the official launch.
I said that because I consider this to be a rather historical event, perhaps a watershed in the federal government's relations with the states when it comes to matters involving technology.
For an awfully long time, too many Washington agencies and leaders active in science and technology paid little more than lip service to the states' interests in this area. And it was easy to do that because relatively few states put science and technology high up on their agendas.
That has changed during the 1990's, and more states now understand just how big of a difference technology makes to the health and well-being of their companies, their universities, their workers, their taxpayers and citizens.
And they understand that their competition is not just the companies which operate across the state line. They understand that their competition may well be a plant or an office on the other side of the world. And they understand that investments in science, technology and education literally can spell success or failure for their companies and citizens.
Organizations representing the states, including the State Science and Technology Institute and the Science and Technology Council of the States, have become much more vocal – and active – in seeking closer ties between federal agencies and state organizations.
That's why U.S. Commerce Secretary Daley serves as the lead in the U.S. Innovation Partnership, an agreement that the federal government entered into with the nation's governors two years ago to foster a truly national innovation system.
This effort has focused attention on improving federal-state linkages on technology matters. I am the primary federal official responsible for making certain that this partnership succeeds. So that explains, in part, why I am so excited about the prospect of this new teaming arrangement we are forging today.
We in the Technology Administration already have a good record of working with Maine. For instance, last spring we selected Maine as one of the early winners in a competition we ran under the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Technology, or EPSCoT. This pioneering program is designed to enhance the development of technology assets in states and regions traditionally under-represented in federal R&D funding.
The EPSCoT project in Maine brings together several partners to provide technical assistance to small businesses in remote parts of Maine. Participants include the Maine Science and Technology Foundation, the Eastern Maine Development Corporation, the Maine International Trade Center, the University of Maine at Orono, and the Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
I am pleased that NIST, which makes up by far the largest part of our Technology Administration, has had some very productive relations and experience with an impressive variety of organizations in Maine. And that's the foundation that we expect to build upon. Maine and NIST have selected practical, focused initiatives based on previous experience. They play to the strengths of each partner, and – if successful – they are likely to yield positive returns not only to Maine, but to other parts of the country which will benefit from the results of this cooperation. And we have a clear parochial interest at NIST: we know that Maine's technology resources can help us to accomplish our mission. I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention the strong support that several Members of Congress have offered to Maine's intensifying technology focus. In fact I was in Maine just last August as part of a Technology Administration team, including several NIST officials, who met with companies in cities across Maine to address the much-talked about Y2K computer problem. That tour was put together at the urging of, and with the active support from, Senator Olympia Snowe. NIST's affiliate in Maine, the Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership, did much of the legwork.
You should know, by the way, that your Maine MEP has quite a reputation back in Washington for the fine work it has been doing on Y2K solutions. Your center has set the standard in trying to help small manufacturers to deal with this vexing problem.
In a few minutes, Dr. Katharine Gebbie, director of the NIST Physics Laboratory, and Dr. Shyam Sunder, chief of NIST's Structures Division, are going to give you more insights into some of the projects we and Maine are now launching.
I will end by simply thanking you, Governor King, your colleagues here today, and other Maine organizations for teaming with us. I look forward to seeing this new partnership prosper and serve as a model for the rest of the nation to learn from.