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Local robotics manufacturer York Exponential is leading the way for the next industrial revolution John A. Pavoncello, York Dispatch

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As emerging technologies shift toward robotics and artificial intelligence, John McElligott sees York City positioned to be a leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

"We're not trying to be trendy or trying to be cool, but we're actually trying to solve our own real world problems," said McElligott, CEO of York Exponential, a robotics company based in the city. 

Without trying to be the next Silicon Valley, York garnered national attention and set itself apart from other cities looking to host the second VentureBeat Blueprint conference, he said.

Blueprint York will take place on March 26, 27 and 28, bringing leaders in technology — and prominent investors — across the nation to the Appell Center for a series of discussions, workshops and tours.

McElligott is one of six featured speakers at the event. He attended last year's event in Reno, when he thought to make the pitch for York.

"After the 2016 election, it sent a ripple effect through Silicon Valley. A lot of folks woke up to the fact that stuff is happening outside of the coasts," he said. 

While Reno has done a good job at reinventing itself as a technology rich region — it "truly wasn't the heartland," he said. 

According to the Blueprint York website, "Blueprint Reno laid the groundwork for accelerating tech prosperity across America with higher paying jobs. Blueprint York will continue this critical conversation with a focus on AI and automation and how the heartland can prepare for these innovation."

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Others featured speakers include Gov. Tom Wolf, Michael Kratsios, White House deputy assistant to the president for technology policy, Jason Ilian, managing director of Koch Disruptive Technologies, Kristi Knack Riordan, chief operating officer of The Flatiron School, and Steve Catt, deputy director of education and workforce development at Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing. 

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Throughout the three day event there will also be tours of innovative York projects, such as York Exponential and United Fiber and Data.

Blueprint York will showcase York's latest projects, while also allowing York's innovators to "learn from people on the outside,"  McElligott said. 

Many of the speakers and attendees will be venture capitalists that can help continue pushing York's projects forward, he added. 

"Hopefully this won't be the last time we see a lot of these folks," he said. 

— Rebecca Klar can be reached at rklar@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter @RebeccaKlar_.

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