Monday, August 20, 2007


What's in a name?

A lot, according to Eastern's own Grant Smith, a professor in the English Department at EWU.
He's an expert in what's known as name analysis, and is frequently called upon come election time.
Here's his take on the 2008 presidential race.

start something big.

Fayetteville Observer

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Chasing Bonds...and others

Not many people may know it, but the man who is known as the most avid collector of sports memorabilia is an Eastern Alum. As the link below explains, Todd McFarlane owns Mark McGuire's record-breaking 70Th home run ball as well as Barry Bonds' 73rd home run ball a few years later.
Before I send you to the article on McFarlane's interest (or lack thereof) in Bonds' latest home run ball, an interesting tidbit. Last week, McFarlane was a guest on ESPN radio in the morning, hosted by Colin Cowherd. 'The Herd', as his show is named, is one of the most popular sports radio talk shows on the air. And Cowherd also went to school at Eastern. There was a great moment when Cowherd mentioned they both attended EWU and McFarlane responded, "I didn't know you were an Eagle!"
Eastern ended up getting 30 seconds of free publicity on national radio by two people who took what they learned in Cheney and really started something big.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


News and notes

I've been off for a few days, enjoying the coast before we ramp up for fall quarter. Some tidbits about Eastern in the news over the last week.
-The football team has opened fall camp with that optimism we all feel at the start of something new.
-The men's basketball team will take part in the Great Alaska Shootout - a 'preseason' hoops tournament that will give new coach Kirk Earlywine and his team some tough but necessary competition as they try to turn the program around. Let's put it this way, you're not going to get better by playing Vocational Tech State to open the season.
-Still a lot of chatter in Seattle about Seahawks training camp in Kirkland, away from the heat in Cheney. Many players insist they love the cooler temperatures, but some experts say the summer heat on this side of the state made them tougher and could impact them just a bit in some situations this season. Who knows.

Hey, start something big.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Business Incubators

EWU expert weighs in on new report that examines the worth of these start-up programs.

start something big.

Incubator report raises Sirti hackles
Bert Caldwell
The Spokesman-Review
August 7, 2007

A review of Washington business incubators asks the right questions, say two local experts, but the answers lie as much in the social sciences as economics.

Robert Schwartz, who heads Eastern Washington University's entrepreneurship program, says measuring incubator performance using strictly economic criteria is misguided. And looking at the success of businesses developed in an incubator does not fully take into account the benefits to their communities, not to mention supporting businesses.

At Sirti, Spokane's largest incubator, Executive Director Kim Zentz says incubator-nurtured businesses may not generate payroll or other easily quantified gains for several years, sometimes not until after the transition to a management team unaware of what help their company received in its infancy.

A legislative committee has raised questions about the return on state investment in Washington incubators or, more exactly, how that return can be determined. Its central question: "If not for the incubator, what would have happened to the firms using its services?"

That's a good question, Schwartz and Zentz agree, one for which there is no simple response.

To find one, Zentz posits, there would have to be some way of comparing incubated companies with non-incubated peers. You would have to know what services they received, and how much, and whether the business survived or prospered at the end of some reasonable time frame.

Incubators may provide space, utilities, shared secretarial and technical support or other assistance to new companies.

Zentz last week took exception to the study by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee because Sirti was lumped in with independent, nonprofit incubators receiving state grant money. Sirti is a state agency.

The report faulted reporting done by grant recipients, but Sirti files twice yearly to the Office of Financial Management. Sirti tracks the number of jobs, clients, and the financing it has attracted. Since 1995, Zentz says, current and former clients have received almost $180 million in funding on top of $25 million in federal money, plus local matches. They have added 2,423 jobs to the local economy.

The state has provided money for Sirti's operations.

Sirti last year succeeded in filling all the space in both its University District buildings. In 2007, Zentz says, the news will be the graduation of 11 companies into their own space off-campus.

"That's what we should be doing," she says.

Schwartz has spent much of his professional life working for or studying incubators. He continues to run an incubator-without-walls that counsels young Spokane businesses.

He says debate over how incubators should be judged began almost as soon as they were embraced as an economic development tool in the early 1980s. The argument goes on.

Incubators, particularly government-funded incubators, are more than business enterprises, and rightfully so, he says, adding that there is probably no state agency that could justify its existence based on return on equity.

Schwartz says incubators should have an element of social entrepreneurship built in so that non-economic benefits like additions to incomes in distressed neighborhoods figure into assessments of their success. There is value to the education, opportunities and awareness of business that incubators bring to a community, he says.

Some programs have been more about the building than the services, Schwartz adds.

"If not for" is a good question. The answer should be as broad as possible.

Business columnist Bert Caldwell can be reached at (509) 459-5450, or at

Monday, August 06, 2007



If you're not a computer guru, and I am not, the word 'Gigapop' at least sounds big. And it is. It's an ultra-fast internet link that's about to help Eastern get connected to high performance networks around the world.
The benefits: research and economic development.

start something big.

From the Spokesman.

High-speed data link ties Spokane, Seattle
Gigapop network will carry research information among universities

Parker Howell
Staff writer

A new, super-fast data link between Spokane and Seattle is ready to connect regional researchers to distant colleagues after three years in the making.

City and state officials on Tuesday will ceremonially launch the Inland Northwest Gigapop, a $2.5 million project that may tie area universities, schools and hospitals already connected to high-speed fiber-optic networks to national and international high-performance networks. Project advocates bill the link as promoting research and, eventually, driving economic development.

If the Internet is an "information superhighway," the Inland Northwest Gigapop is akin to a private autobahn. It can transmit data at 10 gigabits per second — fast enough to send the contents of a 25 gigabyte Blu-ray disc in 20 seconds — but will be restricted to institutions that get clearance from project administrators at the University of Washington.

The link has been operational for about a month, said Clare Donahue, UW's assistant vice president for networking.

"When we light something, we test it for a long time before we put anything on it," she said.

It may be three or more years, however, before more businesses get involved, said Robin Toth, director of business development for Greater Spokane Inc.

The fiber-optic connection runs several hundred miles between a hub run by Pacific Northwest Gigapop, a nonprofit administered by UW, and the U.S. Bank Building in Spokane, where it is routed to nodes at the Wells Fargo Bank building, Eastern Washington University's Riverpoint Campus and the Liberty Lake Internet Exchange.

The project received about $1.5 million in federal grant money and $1 million from the state, officials said. It came about through a collaboration among the city, UW, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Greater Spokane Inc., area universities, Sirti and others.

Creating the link required activating unused fiber-optic cable and creating nine "huts" along the route to amplify the signal, Donahue said.

The signal speed later could be boosted to as much as 320 gigabits per second by transmitting data on multiple wavelengths of light. Typical T1 lines only support transfers of about 1.5 megabits per second.

The four-year-old Virtual Possibilities Network already ties universities, local school districts, Sirti and Inland Northwest Health Services through a fiber-optic network meant to foster collaboration and economic growth. The new Spokane-Seattle link may extend that connectivity.

"It's sort of a big convergence," said Steve Simmons, director of the Center for Network Computing and Cyber Security at EWU.

Pacific Northwest Gigapop also runs similar nodes in Portland and Anchorage. It provides access to networks such as National LamdaRail and the education-only Internet2."I think you will see heavy usage of that network almost immediately," Octavio Morales, one of four partners at the Liberty Lake Internet Exchange (LLIX), said of the Gigapop.

The Gigapop could be used for data-mining and video-intensive applications. It also may help LLIX, which provides servers and generators for information backup, better serve customers by allowing them to backup data at LLIX, he said.

Simmons foresees using the link for an ongoing project to conduct remote music rehearsals. A professor of computational chemistry, for example, might use it to send data modeling how molecules interact to a supercomputer at PNNL, Simmons said.

"Basically, the science community has sort of percolated up to where it has stuff ready to go," Simmons said, although he added it might take months to clear administrative hurdles for his project.

The Gigapop project also could help incubator development and telemedicine, Donahue said.

"You have institutions in the Spokane area that might want to send radiological images which take up a lot of bandwidth or other medical information, and this is a good way to do it," she said, noting that INHS has expressed interest in the Gigapop.

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