Illinois governor proposes dollars 1 billion hi-tech makeover

CHICAGO: Illinois has not traditionally been known as a tech hotbed.

CHICAGO: Illinois has not traditionally been known as a tech hotbed.

CHICAGO: Illinois has not traditionally been known as a tech


But if the state’s higher-ups have anything to say about it, its stodgy

image may soon receive a hi-tech makeover courtesy of PR.

Gov. George Ryan is proposing a dollars 1 billion state hi-tech campaign

to build infrastructure and fund new tech projects. Included in that

proposal could be dollars 6 million for PR, marketing and advertising

designed to raise the state’s tech profile.

Area hi-tech PR pros said the effort is long overdue. ’We’ve got leading

universities, we’ve got capital, we’ve got entrepreneurship,’ said

Porter Novelli Convergence Group SVP Michael Young. ’One of the things

we don’t have is recognition.’ By way of example, he pointed to a

November Wall Street Journal story that discussed hot tech markets

without even mentioning Chicago.

Several groups - including The Illinois Coalition, a not-for-profit

state/private organization, and The Chicago Internet Marketing

Association - have ventured to improve the state’s hi-tech image. But an

overall lack of PR coordination has frustrated most attempts.

’Illinois efforts have really lacked focus,’ said Paul Rand, president

of Corporate Technology Communications. Still, he is optimistic that

this is about to change, noting that the governor is providing the

’building blocks’ needed to forge a credible PR message for companies in

the tech sector.

Paul Battaglia, deputy GM of PR21’s local outpost, said PR efforts on

the tech front should ’promote the city as a great place to operate a

business.’ Hill & Knowlton’s James Turano agreed: ’If there is money

going for PR and marketing, I would hope there is emphasis on the

entrepreneurial spirit that is here. This is not a barren wasteland of

technology knowledge and talent - there is a high talent base here.’

Governor Ryan’s program, seeks to funnel money to state universities and

stress biotechnology research. News of the plan broke at the start of

last week and garnered generally favorable reactions from


But some viewed the announcement as an attempt by Ryan to divert

attention away from an emerging scandal regarding his conduct when he

served as secretary of state. Growing questions could damage Ryan

politically and make it difficult for him to accomplish his legislative


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