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State panel visits to hear ideas on how to use Net

Oregon's official advocates for the new economy are coming to Medford.

The Oregon Internet Commission, created by the 1999 Legislature to encourage the growth of e-commerce, will hold a meeting from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday at Bear Creek's Corporate Conference Center.

The group hopes to hear from business people, local government officials and residents about how to best position Oregon to take advantage of Internet opportunities.

Gov. John Kitzhaber has identified three general topics for the commission to report on: education and work force needs; ensuring that no Oregonian is left behind; and ensuring that all Oregon businesses have a fair chance in the electronic environment.

The commission says it wants to hear about any obstacles facing businesses in the new economy.

The commission does include one Rogue Valley business leader — Nancy Tait, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Bear Creek. The commission has 15 members from business and government and one ex-officio member.

It's very interesting and it's been very helpful to me, Tait says of her experience thus far. E-commerce is critical to our business now but even more important in the future.

Tait says she's enjoyed working through various e-commerce issues. She's focused on education and work force, serving on a subcommittee dedicated to those issues. She says companies of all sizes and in all parts of Oregon are having a tough time finding enough qualified technology employees.

The preference is to train Oregonians for those jobs rather than bring in talent from elsewhere, she says. The trick is making sure the education system can prepare workers.

How do we get enough people in the educational system to support the need that all businesses are going to have? she says.

Other subcommittees are addressing business infrastructure, legal infrastructure, electronic government and the advantages Oregon has.

People who wish to address the commission should call Lorna Hobbs at the governor's office in Salem at (503) 378-6549. More information on the commission can be found at

Bear Creek's conference center is at 2836 S. Pacific Highway, and the public is invited.

The commission is putting together a report on its findings for the next legislative session and will then disband. It will also hold meetings in Bend and Pendleton to gather input.

The eight commission members from the private sector come from some of largest and most prestigious companies operating in Oregon, including Intel, Microsoft, 800.com, Columbia Sportswear and Bear Creek. The commission chair is Vince Chiappetta, a professor at the Willamette University College of Law.