Technological development took center stage Thursday as three Indiana entities united to work toward a common future.\nThe Indiana Technology Partnership, a statewide organization working to boost high-tech growth, and leaders from IU and Bloomington came together for a day-long conference about improving Indiana's technological culture.\n"Today we are here to listen to what is happening in this community, to understand the start-up companies that are beginning to exist, and to find ways to enable further companies to exist," said Scott Jones, chairman of the Indiana Technology Partnership.\nThe conference included several meetings with Bloomington and IU officials, tours of businesses located in the IU Research Park, and a visit to the Indiana Enterprise Center.\nAs the keynote speaker for the opening briefing, Bloomington Mayor John Fernandez stressed that the future of areas such as Bloomington depends on an increase in technological development.\n"Economic activity has a high propensity to cluster together in regions, and these high technology clusters are going to determine which cities and metropolitan areas are going to succeed or fail," Fernandez said. "It's imperative that we promote high-tech expansion and cluster formation in our region."\nIU, ranked by Yahoo! as last year's fourth most-wired campus in the country, is one of the key ingredients in this recipe for growth.\n"Clearly the presence of IU, a world-class research institute, provides one of the essential foundations upon which we can build our economic development strategy," Fernandez said.\nIU Chief Information Officer and Vice President for Information Technology Michael McRobbie cited the newly christened School of Informatics, Internet 2 and CAVE, an automatic virtual environment, as a few of IU's major contributions to the future of technology. McRobbie, who represented IU in lieu of IU President Myles Brand, lauded the University's five-year plan for improved technology across all campuses, calling it "an excellent start."\nOne of the major obstacles to the city's technological development has been devising a way to grow without disrupting everyday life for Bloomington residents. Several cities around the country have experienced transportation problems and damage to their infrastructures while Internet companies ripped up streets to install fiber-optic cables and other necessary equipment.\n"Our problem was, 'How can we lower the barriers to a competitive market for additional telecom carriers here while at the same time protecting our infrastructure in terms of the traditional economy and transportation?'" said Bloomington Chief Information Officer Michael Chui.\nTo respond to this potential disruption, Bloomington officials came up with two solutions: Bloomington Digital Underground and a concept dubbed "the telecom hotel." The Digital Underground will provide a conduit underneath major streets where Internet providers can install their cables without continually disturbing traffic flow. The telecom hotels ' now under construction in the Indiana Enterprise Center and at Seventh and Walnut ' allow companies to co-locate switches, which saves time and energy consumption. Both of these solutions further Internet provider competition while promoting community continuity.\nAnd, as Fernandez emphasized, the community is the central point of this entire endeavor.\n"Our community provides a safe and affordable location," he said, "blessed with natural beauty and culturally rich environments, for businesses and their employees"