The Future of Tech in New England
The message I took home: New Hampshire is thinking harder than the other New England states about how to remain competitive and retain the smart young people who grow up here, or come here to get an education.
UNH economist Ross Gittell kicked things off with a presentation: tech workers in NH earn an average of $75K a year... compared to $26K for people who work in retail...and $43K as an overall state-wide average.
But... NH tech employment seems to have peaked in 2000; today's level (48,756) is a bit lower than it was in the early 1990s.
Also, the entire New England region, Gittell said, is losing young people.
The current lock-down on credit will likely have a dramatic impact on high-tech, he predicted... financing will be in short supply for start-up companies (I suspect he was focused on non-venture capital backed start-ups)...and fewer businesses will be making investments in new hardware or software.
Gittell ended by pointing to two growth areas for the future:
> Healthcare IT and defense (two "stable industries," as he termed them)
> Green businesses (a growth industry)
We then had a panel discussion with a number of NH execs. I asked them what one issue we ought to focus on to ensure that tech continues to prosper in NH (and the wider New England region).
The two things we spent the most time talking about:
1. How do we create a stronger connection between students and the innovation economy (through internships, company visits, entrepreneurs and execs visiting campuses, etc.)?
2. How can we better spread the word outside of the region about all the innovative things that happen inside the region? That'd help attract both people and businesses.
(For once, no one was blaming VCs for being too timid and risk-averse, or complaining that no one in New England ever networks...)