Tribute to Pike Powers

By Kirk Ladendorf

American-Statesman Staff

Austin tech development visionary Pike Powers on Monday encouraged a crowd of business, political and academic leaders to keep supporting the tech-related projects that he expects will spur future growth of jobs and business in Central Texas.

Powers, 71, spoke at an event honoring his decades of work as an economic development strategist and leader.

The event promoted the forthcoming Pike Powers Commercialization Lab that is part of Pecan Street Inc., a public-private initiative to make Central Texas an energy technology hub.

Powers kids with Brewster McCracken, Executive Director of Pecan Street, Inc. Photo: Ralph Barrera, Austin American-Statesman.

Learn how you can support Pecan Street and Pike’s vision of a world-class commercialization lab benefitting UT students, faculty and companies.

The event also was sponsored by the Fulbright & Jaworski law firm and the University of Texas Cockrell School of Engineering.

The $1.5 million lab, located in Northeast Austin in the Mueller development, will promote research, commercialization and education tied to smart energy grids, advanced information technology, clean energy and health care applications. It is expected to open late this year. Funds are still being raised to support the operating budget, which is expected to be about $1 million a year.

Powers urged those present to keep supporting Austin’s continued tech development.

“We are in the right place at the right time with the right focus and the right people,” Powers said. “There is nobody in the world that can really compete with us.”

Powers, a former state legislator and executive assistant to former Gov. Mark White, was a vital leader in the successful Austin efforts to recruit the MCC and Sematech research projects to Austin as well as Applied Materials and Samsung Electronics Co.

State Sen. Kirk Watson described Powers as a key leader who helped Austin move from being a promising college and state government town to a rising high-tech center.

“I call him Uncle Pike, the wise uncle of the Austin tech economy,” Watson said.