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Tech sector enters Park City

Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

David Spann and Jim Banister envision Park City becoming a hotspot for the smart and creative, a place that draws people wanting to learn about and produce digital media.

They are executives for the Center for Applied Media and say the center, which they plan to base in Park City, will teach people the techniques of using technology like the World Wide Web, wireless networks and gaming.

Park City, they insist, will be a player in the expanding digital revolution.

"It’s teaching them what’s going on, from a societal standpoint," Banister, the creative director of the center, said in an interview on Thursday, after a presentation to Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council.

The City Council approved an $18,000 grant to the center, a not-for-profit organization, to assist with the center’s start-up costs in Park City, deciding that the organization could be beneficial to Park City’s desire to diversify the economy. The money, the center says, will secure office space.

The center, supporters say, would essentially work as a think tank. Within two years, they say, Park City could be hosting a global technology summit, up to five seminars for executives and a lecture series.

Within a year, they want to offer what they are calling ‘Webheads,’ described as "multimedia lectures by digital media mavens, offered to individuals, universities and professional associations" through the Internet.

The center would organize at least two free events for Parkites to hear from digital-technology experts.

The executives say that there is not another center like theirs in the world and on Thursday the upstart center was compared to the Sundance Institute in its early years. The center expects that it would have about 10 people working at the Park City offices, which they want to be located near a hotel.

The center, the executives say, wants to target professionals and students, from high-schoolers studying technology to graduate students in the fields. Over the next three years, the center wants to bring 500 executives and their families to Park City.

The technology that comes from the center, they say, could stay with the people that create it or could be shepherded into the marketplace by venture capitalists teamed with the center.

Banister sees Park City as an entrepreneurial town and one that fits with their mission.

"The digital media sector has in the past been overshadowed by digital film and traditional advertising and communication channels like TV and radio," the organizers say in its grant application to City Hall. "The future, however, is in delivering content through web, wireless and game technology."

In the application, they say that a Park City headquarters will provide the city with "worldwide visibility," would create jobs, and be an "ecologically friendly" addition to the city.

The application claims that a global summit it would host has drawn interest from British, Chinese and Indian companies.

"We intend this event will have the same, if not larger impact on the Applied Media worldwide economic sector as Sundance plays in independent film," the application says.

During the City Council meeting, the center’s executives touted Park City’s location near an international airport and the city’s resort feel as reasons why they want to have their offices in the city. They also said Utah has lots of smart people.

The government is supportive, with officials saying that the center would create more buzz about Park City. Marianne Cone, a City Councilor, said the center is " a perfect fit for Park City," which she said should attract creative people.

City Councilor Candy Erickson questioned whether the center will keep up with technology but the center’s officials said they would by hiring young people who are engrossed with the advances.

"It’s moving so fast," Erickson said about the high-tech sector. "Can you keep up or will you be eclipsed?"


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