Two months after outgoing Mayor Karen Stepper alluded to it in a public forum, the Town of Danville has announced its push to create a technology center.
iGATE is one of 12 centers across the state , said Tai Williams, Danville's transportation services and economic development director.
"The idea is to create new areas like Silicon Valley all across the state," Williams said. iGATE is in Livermore, based out of Sandia and Lawrence Livermore labs.
Danville's plan is to create a virtual boardroom, with life-sized HD video and spacial audio to let people collaborate across distances. The Danville plan will also give business owners 24/7 access to meeting spaces and offices to work with employees and clients across time zones all over the world, and provide support -- everything from packing and shipping to copying machines.
"People don't live in the same time zones," Stepper said.
The final piece of the plan would be a network club lounge, stocked with refreshments, magazines and newspapers and satellite TV.
Williams said a 2005 study showed very small firms with five or fewer employees generated more than $218,000 per employee, and that Danville is home to nearly 20 percent of those firms.
She pointed to one local company, whose owner regularly travels to New Jersey -- home to the bulk of his business, including his warehouse and employees -- which would benefit from being able to teleconference instead of flying there for meetings.
That owner chooses to live in Danville for the quality of life it provides, and by basing his home operations here, he can do business and still watch his child play soccer.
Another CEO could avoid traveling to Los Angeles by taking advantage of the space.
Stepper said many CEO choose Danville as their home because of what it has to offer and have made the trade-off of traveling to allow them to live here.
"These firms are not very traditional firms," Williams said, explaining that their partners are often geographically separated. "They're connected primarily by technology. Â… What they don't have is the ability to meet in a larger office space than a table at Starbucks."
While the town hopes to have something up and running in three to five years, Stepper said it would require a public-private partnership to pay for the space and the technology.
The town is looking for a real estate firm to help find a space, hopefully near downtown, and looking for partners in technology, such as AT&T or Sisco.
She said a partner with the city would have the ability to showcase the space as potential sales tool.
"The town is involved at every level, (but) this is not going to build itself," Stepper said. "This idea is going to require partners."
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