For tech enthusiasts worldwide, Christmas really doesn’t come until early January, when the Consumer Technology Association holds its CES trade show in Las Vegas. The four-day gadget fest, formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show, always promises exciting news and the debut of next-generation innovations from the 3,800 companies that participate.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, CES drew more than 175,000 people this year, including a team from the Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona and City of Flagstaff.
Why did we go? Well, while it’s great to keep up with the latest in self-driving cars, virtual reality applications and the growing “internet of things,” our real target was the 600 or so start-up companies featured at CES’s Eureka Park Marketplace in the Sand’s Expo.
For every established concern at CES – the Sonys, Samsungs, and Casios – there are entrepreneurs who have not decided where they will locate their fledgling businesses.
Some are searching for incubator or accelerator space. Others are looking for support from a community that “gets” the importance of the tech sector. Many were seeking a location that speaks to their active lifestyles.
The CES show gave us the unique opportunity to showcase the many benefits of making northern Arizona their new home. We talked about the facilities and mentoring available from NACET, the strong educational partner we have in Northern Arizona University, and the unparalleled lifestyle here.
It was exciting to talk with these young men and women, who seemed boundless in their creativity and enthusiasm. As my colleague Carol Covington noted, our tech future is in good hands with them.
Equally exciting was the knowledge that they will be the source of the high-wage, low-impact businesses ECoNA seeks to bring to the region as part of our multi-faceted approach to a strong and diverse economy in northern Arizona.
We are looking forward to continuing the conversation with the entrepreneurs we met at CES, and keeping locations such as Flagstaff, Williams, Winslow and Page top of mind as they plan the future – and future homes – of their companies.