Where do we go from here?
That’s the question Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer addressed at the annual Bellevue Chamber of Commerce dinner Sept. 24.
It’s something his software-development teams ask themselves every day.
The answer, Balmer said, is to seek more progress.
“As we look out, as far as the eye can see, there’s going to be innovation driven by technological advances,” he said.
Ballmer’s advice: stay at the forefront.
It’s a message that rings as true for Microsoft employees as it does for Bellevue as a whole.
Ballmer noted how much the city has changed since he first came to town 28 years ago to join Microsoft.
The once-quaint burg now attracts people in droves thanks to its new urban developments, acclaimed school system, and thriving businesses.
Fortune Small Business magazine recently rated Bellevue as the nation’s number one place to live and launch a business.
But the goal is to forge ahead, Ballmer said.
Speaking before a crowd of more than 750 people, he stressed the importance of developing a highly-skilled workforce through education.
“We have to invest in all of the things that enhance and grow this area.”
Ballmer again stressed the importance of a highly-skilled work force when a guest asked about his stance on immigration.
“It should be a principle for our government that we encourage the best and brightest to come work in this country,” he said.
Ballmer also spent time talking about advancements that Microsoft is working on for the future.
He suggested that people would soon read from electronic screens as thin and flexible as the speech outlined on a piece of folded paper in his hand.
Ballmer also predicted that all technology would be digital within 10 years.
Prior to the keynote speech, the Chamber announced that it would be taking over management and operations for the Bellevue Entrepreneur Center, whose mission is to help emerging businesses grow.
Wayne Ottum, Chief Operating Officer for the Bellevue Chamber, said the move will likely provide a more consistent and stable funding source for the center.
“We’ve had a successful history with that as a chamber,” he said.
Ottum also noted that the entrepreneur center plans to re-emphasize its past commitment to helping female and minority businesses thrive.
“We want to get the word out that we’re actually reaching out to those diverse populations in this community,” he said.
The entrepreneur center started in 2003 as a resource that provides marketing, financing, and operations assistance to small businesses.