Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Coming Soon: The Killer Regional Portal

With the web, things are often comically circular. A few years ago, back when Yahoo bestrode the universe and Google was little more than a bunch of Stanford geeks playing with algorithms, portals were the thing. More recently, of course, search has been the big killer app, and portals were left in the dust. But now they're back, seemingly with a vengeance. The Web Association has an upcoming program devoted to portals and even bloggers are talking (and some of them whining) about regional portals as a kind of meta-blogging exercise. But I'm encouraged by something just over the horizon that promises to be one hell of a useful web portal for the region. Finally, it seems, some actual substance may come from what until now has been mostly p.r. by TeamNEO. Listen in to a recent TeamNEO newsletter:

Team NEO is working extensively with groups of economic development organizations, real estate firms and site selectors, to finalize requirements for a regional economic development portal that will be accessible through the Internet. The system will provide a plethora of tools and data, including a GIS based land and property database; labor pool mapping with drive times and wage rates; demographic information; interactive credits and incentives survey; infrastructure, environmental, and zoning maps; data on existing businesses; and the location of education institutions, transportation structures, and workforce programs. The portal is expected to be up and running by early summer.

Let's hope this regional tool ends up being half as interesting and useful to economic developers as this description would suggest. But I also can't help wonder why a couple of institutions with all the right resources and expertise (plus years, even decades of head start) never got around to doing this: CSU's Urban School and the Weatherhead School's Center for Regional Economic Issues.


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