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WTC Chair testified to House committee on proposed budget cuts

Washington Technology Center board of directors chair Robin Halliday testified January 15, 2009 before the Washington State House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee on the Governor’s proposed 2009-11 operating budget and the proposed 30% reduction in state funding for WTC.

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Video from TVW (Testimony begins at 1 minute 15 seconds into the video)

[Prepared Remarks]

Madame Chair and members of the committee. My name is Robin Halliday. I am a retired small business owner from Bellingham and currently serve as the Chair of the Washington Technology Center Board of Directors.

The proposed budget calls for a massive reduction in the support for WTC’s work with small businesses across the state -- a reduction of $1.7M, or more than 30% of WTC’s total state funding.

Members of WTC’s board of directors and I are puzzled.

We understand that the state faces one of the most serious financial difficulties in memory. We also believe this is exactly the time to invest in those organizations with a proven record of positive economic impact.

WTC has just such a record. Over the past 13 years, WTC has leveraged the state’s annual investment of less than $3 million, by assisting companies in all parts of the state to attract an additional $600M for research, manufacturing and new jobs.

WTC has also done its part to attract other sources of support. Six years ago the state provided more than 80% of WTC’s funding, today the state provides about half.

Without restoring state support, WTC will not be able to attract the private and federal funds that now make up 50% of its budget.

Other state economic development investments have not declined at this rate. In fact, CTED’s proposed budget for 2009 is reduced by only 8.9% and WTC’s sister organization SIRTI, also considered a state agency, is reduced by only 5.4%.

In hard times it appears easy to make significant reductions by cutting grants and contracts to organizations such as WTC. However, these are often the organizations that most efficiently and effectively deliver economic development services, specifically by leveraging these state dollars to create partnerships with the private sector

In a handout, I am providing examples of economic growth and new jobs created in your communities through your investment in the Washington Technology Center.

I ask that when you consider the state’s economic development budget, you take time to consider how WTC has positively affected the state for the past 25 years and then reinstate full funding.

Thank you.

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