WASHINGTON MAKES FORTUNE'S LIST
After a two-year campaign by the Greater Washington Initiative, Washington finally made Fortune magazine's list of the best cities to live and work.
The city has never made this list, said John McLean, managing partner of the Greater Washington Initiative, which is funded by 100 public and private local organizations to promote economic growth. The strategy was to lobby for the entire region -- Northern Virginia, suburban Maryland and the District of Columbia -- rather than push one part over the other, McLean said.
The survey, which is based on a city's business opportunities, the economy and standard of living, ranked Washington eighth in a list of 15 cities.
"We're thrilled with the ranking. It's the top 10," said McLean. "Somebody else has noticed us and recognized we are not a government town anymore."
GARTNER FORECASTS GROWTH IN EXTERNAL SERVICES
The Gartner Group, Stamford, Conn., predicts that in the next five years there will be a threefold growth in the external services providers market, which Gartner defines as a combination of consulting, systems integration and IT outsourcing. To tap into the growing market, Gartner recently introduced a suite of services, known as External Services Providers Government. ESPG will focus on the challenges emerging trends present for government users, who will benefit from the services when evaluating buying decisions, negotiating and managing contracts and gathering information from all government levels.
REGIONAL IPO MARKET HEATS UP
The initial public offering market for the Washington region's high-tech companies has picked up in the fourth quarter.
Digex, an Internet service provider in Beltsville, Md., started selling 3.75 million shares of common stock at $9 to $11 per share on the NASDAQ stock exchange Oct. 17. According to its underwriter, Friedman Billings Ramsey, Arlington, Va., the company raised $45 million on its first day of trading.
Rockville, Md.-based CTA is expected to come to market in the next week. The company filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission Sept. 10, signaling its plan to sell 3 million shares of common stock. That offering will be led by underwriters Lehman Brothers, Cowen & Co. and Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc. And we hear that Erol's, another Internet access provider in Springfield, Va., is gearing up for an IPO soon.
The Washington-based Federation of American Research Networks is promoting its new plan to accelerate the use of advanced Internet technology by nonprofit research and education establishments. The industry-backed association will hold a series of meetings next year to push its plans, including an April conference in Washington.
On Oct. 11, President Bill Clinton declared he would earmark $100 million in 1998 to develop a "next-generation Internet." The improved Internet would boost communications capacity up to one-thousandfold. However, Clinton didn't earmark any funding for the program after 1998, despite an estimate from the president's Science and Technology Council that the next-generation Internet would need up to six years and $650 million to develop.
LOCKHEED TRIES OUT TELECOM IN CANADA
Lockheed Martin Telecommunications, Sunnyvale, Calif., will be the systems integrator for a $60 million interactive multimedia trial run by Telus Multimedia, a division of Telus Corp., which is the third largest telecom company in Canada.
The project is expected to offer television, movies, home security, video games and high-speed Internet access to customers in Edmonton and Calgary, Canada, by the end of 1997.
The first phase of the trial -- building the fiber optic network -- will happen this month. About 3,400 households will be offered the service in the test.
YEAR 2000 SOFTWARE CHECK
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has begun to check whether the year 2000 software problem is being tackled by the many stockbrokers, investment advisors and stock exchanges under its purview. The checks are needed to ensure that their computers don't crash, leaving many stockholders in the lurch.
POSTAL SERVICE TO OFFER ELECTRONIC ACCESS
Network security company Cylink Corp., Sunnyvale, Calif., has formed a partnership with the U.S. Postal Service to develop a national electronic commerce system.
Expected to be running by next year, the Postal ECS system will offer services such as electronic postmarking, which proves that a piece of mail was sent at a certain time; electronic delivery of legal documents, medical records and bill payments; and archival storage of records.
The Cylink technology, for its part, is supposed to provide security and privacy for those using the services. Specifically, Cylink uses public key cryptography.
The security company expects this deal will lead to similar arrangements with other post office organizations around the world, as well as some commercial customers.
NRC READIES RADIATION REPORT
Watch out for an upcoming report on the health effects of electromagnetic radiation. Consumer worries about the radiation, which is produced by every known electronic device including computers and communications wires, have powered a steady stream of scare stories over the last two decades. The new report, to be released Oct. 31 by the Washington-based National Research Council, will combine data and results from 500 separate studies on the topic.