The information technology industry in Massachusetts can play a leading role in growing jobs and improving the state's economy if IT executives and government leaders work together to keep the industry at the forefront of innovation.
That was the consensus of executives from leading IT companies in the state and area legislators who participated at a forum Monday (April 5) to explore ideas to fortify the industry, create jobs and improve economic conditions in Massachusetts.
Executives representing the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council discussed its recently unveiled MassTLC 2020 Challenge, a call for the state and the industry to work together to create 100,000 new IT jobs in Massachusetts by the end of the decade. Meeting that goal would generate $8.8 billion in new wages for workers in the state.
"It was an exciting, optimistic and inspiring gathering of some of the top players in the industry," said state Sen. Karen E. Spilka, chair of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies and the host of the forum. "We have a strong IT sector in the commonwealth, with thousands of companies investing in the technologies that support our entire economy. Our goal is to find ways to encourage companies to stay, grow and invest in Massachusetts."
Forum participants heard reports from the UMass Donahue Institute and the John Adams Innovation Institute, which last year joined Massachusetts IT companies to complete a study of the IT industry. That study showed Massachusetts is home to some 10,400 companies with more than 178,000 IT workers.
In 2008 alone, the IT industry invested more than $65 billion in new capital in Massachusetts. An additional 50,000 people are employed in companies that support or rely on the IT industry, including those in health care, education and energy. Workers in the IT industry earn an average of $87,748, twice the statewide average wage for all Massachusetts workers.
Other leaders of government, education and business with significant expertise in technology and innovation spoke about current initiatives and plans for 2010. Topics examined at the forum included:
- The vital role the Massachusetts IT industry plays in the state's economy, providing vital infrastructure and technology used in all sectors, and offering one of the best opportunities for economic development and job growth.
- Ways that government, academia and business can work together to develop progressive public policy that creates opportunities for growth.
- The critical importance of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education to the future success of the IT industry.
Donna C. Cupelo, Verizon New England president and a leader in the Massachusetts IT Collaborative, said: "Those of us who work in any of the tech-based industries that are essential to the Massachusetts economy fully understand the power of innovation. Despite a tough economy, our tech sector is filled with companies continuing to do what we do best - investing, innovating and delivering services and value to customers."
Cupelo referred to economists' estimates of 500,000 new jobs that are created for every $10 billion increase in digital investment. For every 1 percent increase in broadband penetration in a state, employment can rise as much as 2 percent to 3 percent, she said.
Spilka reported that a bill she sponsored with Senate President Therese Murray includes many initiatives that support growth in the IT industry and other businesses in Massachusetts.
"We're working to streamline regulation in Massachusetts, encourage growth and competition of Internet-based technologies, and make it easier for business to interact with government in Massachusetts," said Spilka. "The legislation now before the Senate creates the right framework for economic and job growth in Massachusetts. We look forward to working with the IT industry and other sectors on other ways we can create jobs and grow our economy."
Sarah Blodgett for Sen. Karen Spilka, 617-722-1640
Phil Santoro, Verizon, 617-743-4760
Mark Horan, MTLC, 781-993-9000, ext. 210