There is a recipe for technology-based economic development and state governments must delve into how to intermingle those characteristics for businesses to succeed, according to Mark Schill, co-author of the National Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Economic study titled Enterprising States: States Innovate, released Oct. 20.
While only a handful of ingredients comprise the recipe, it’s not easy for states to determine the right amount of each element to ensure economic success in the technology sector, says Schill. The five ingredients are:
• A research base that generates new knowledge • Mechanisms for transferring knowledge to the marketplace • Sources of risk capital • A technically skilled workforce • An entrepreneurial culture
The report, which took Schill, his co-author and a team of researchers three months to complete, surmised that while locales that are traditional innovators in the tech world, such as Silicon Valley, are still leaders, other areas of the country are making headway.
Schill labels it “an important trend” that places other than traditional strongholds are making a name for themselves in the tech world. This shows “you don’t have to be in the Silicon Valley to be relevant,” says Schill.
This year marks the sixth in a row Schill and his team of researchers at Praxis Strategy Group have completed a comprehensive marketing report for the National Chamber of Commerce’s Foundation. According to Schill, “The report highlights some of the best practices in state policies, such as growing the tech market, so states can see where they stand and compare with other states.”
The shift in the dispersion of the tech industry to locales other than the Silicon Valley or North Carolina’s Research Triangle was a major discovery of this year’s study, says Schill. He attributes this change to a growing recognition that industries that once succeeded without technology are now becoming dependent on it. For example, whereas agriculture once relied solely on large machinery to help accomplish various tasks, today, technology is increasingly becoming an important partner for completing those jobs. Drones fly over fields to help farmers see which crops are withering, flourishing or are ready for harvest. Today’s manufacturers rely heavily on computerized machinery that have modernized factories.
So just which regions were shown to have demonstrated the greatest uptick in tech-related job growth since Schill’s last report? Utah scored high in several categories as did the Great Plains and western states, in general.
For those entrepreneurs who don’t happen to live in one of the current or upcoming hotspots in the tech industry, Schill offers this advice: “Engage in the local entrepreneur culture with businesses like yours. If it doesn’t exist, create it. Reach out to your local chamber of commerce. Strong networks really help entrepreneurs.”