To Build a Region, High-Tech is Top

Technology brings a positive balance of payments into a region. In our introduction to the Building a Region series on Handshake 2.0 – in which we're exploring the definitions of regional economic development and related issues - we asked several questions, one of which was:

"What is the relationship of the development of a local technology industry to regional economic development?"

Jim Flowers, Director of VT KnowledgeWorks answered:

High-tech companies produce top-of-the-food-chain jobs.  Their highly-educated workforce, producing high-value products and services, earns above-average wages, and fuels the local/regional economic engine by consuming the products and services of the various enterprises that involve less intellectual property, such as restaurants, specialty stores, remodeling shops, lawn services, etc. 

In addition, high-tech businesses are commonly green (no belching smokestacks); they have a long life-expectancy (being grounded in the latest stuff); and they sell principally to customers outside the region (the technology world is really flat), thereby creating  a positive balance of payments for the region as a whole.
 
So, it’s reasonable to emphasize high-tech as a catalyst for more general economic growth.  High-tech companies produce high-paying jobs.  They are green.  They are connected to the earliest stages of new markets, and thus have long life-expectancy.  They contribute positively to the regional  balance of payments.
 
Should all entrepreneurship be supported?  Of course, that’s why we have Small Business Development Centers, SBDCs and community incubators.  Each sub-sector of the overall economic “system” has unique challenges.  No one has demonstrated a successful one-size-fits-all approach to business acceleration.  In many respects, business is business, but there are very real market sector nuances to be addressed.  The metaphor is weak, but you might compare broader economic development and developing a technology industry to the practice of medicine - family practice versus specialists.

Photo credit:  Jennifer Greger

Jim Flowers and VT KnowledgeWorks were featured in the Tech Showcase on Handshake 2.0, sponsored by Rackspace.  VT KnowledgeWorks and Jim Flowers are clients of Handshake Media, Incorporated.

In our Building a Region series, are we asking the right questions?  What are better questions?  What are the answers to those better questions?  We welcome guests posts and comments.  With a guest post or an idea for one, please email us at [email protected].

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