Originally Posted Online: Dec. 06, 2012, 9:00 pm
Last Updated: Dec. 06, 2012, 9:05 pm
Q-C honored for high-tech job growth
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By Jonathan Turner firstname.lastname@example.org
Tara Barney, chief executive officer of the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce.
The Quad-Cities ranks favorably in high-tech jobs compared to other metro areas, according to a study released Thursday by theBay Area Council Economic Institute.
The region is No. 16 of all metro areas for high-tech employment growth in 2006-2011 and 18th for growth in 2010-11, according to "Technology Works: Patterns of High-Technology Employment and Wages in the United States." Thehigh-tech sector is defined as industries with most jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
"Innovation continues to be a growing focus of the Quad-Cities region," said Tara Barney, CEO, Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce. "The findings in this report reinforce the chamber's ongoing economic development efforts to support existing or new innovators, as they develop new products and processes in the Quad-Cities region."
The area's largest private employer, Moline-based Deere & Co., was named Wednesday as one of Thomson Reuters Top 100 Innovators in the world, Ms. Barney noted. Also on the list were the U.S. Department of the Army and 3M, both with significant workforces in the Q-C.
Patrick Barnes, Deere's program director of global STEM and a member of the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council, said the high-tech report is "great to see," given the area's increasing emphasis on STEM fields.
"Having the right skills, the workforce available, is very important," he said. "That's why we started John Deere Inspire, a global STEM initiative. Jobs are becoming more technical. This (report) reiterates that.
"Inspire is really about inspiring and engaging, focused on students in K-12," Mr. Barnes said of Deere's global effort. "There are concerning trends in the U.S. and other countries that students are not as interested in technical education and careers. Our goal is to impact that."
The San Francisco-based Bay Area Council Economic Institute found that job growth in STEM careers outpaced gains across all occupations 27 to 1 between 2002 and 2011, and employment in high-tech industries is projected to grow 16.2 percent between 2011 and 2020.
High-tech workers earn 17 to 27 percent more people in other industries, the report says. The creation of a single high-tech job is associated with the creation of an additional 4.3 jobs in the local goods and services economy.
Greensboro, N.C., and Columbia, S.C., led the nation in high-tech growth in 2010-11, while the Quad-Cities had 8.7 percent growth. Boise City, Idaho, and Augusta, Ga., led over a five-year period, while the Quad-Cities had 20.2 percent growth.
That's helped keep local unemployment lower than state and national levels. In October, the Quad-Cities had a 6.9 percent jobless rate, below Illinois' 8.4 percent and 7.9 percent nationally.
"Unemployment in the high-tech sector is generally low, and the jobs typically pay more," Ms. Barney said. "Growth in a stable and robust field like high-tech translates to a stronger economy and an innovative, resilient workforce, which is all good news for our region."
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has cited the Quad-Cities as an important player in advancing STEM education and technologies. Today, the co-chairs of Iowa's STEM Advisory Council — Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and University of Northern Iowa President Ben Allen — will meet at Eastern Iowa Community College's Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center in Davenport.
"We have very strong partnerships between education, business and government throughout the Quad-Cities, which leads to stronger workforce development," Ms. Barney said. "For example, Eastern Iowa Community Colleges and our high schools are closely aligned with the Putnam Museum and others in the community to strengthen STEM education."
Today's 10 a.m. town-hall meeting at the ATEEC Center, Mississippi Plaza Building, 201 N. Harrison St., Davenport, will focus on why STEM is important and gather input from the public, Mr. Barnes said.
For the full report, visit bayareaeconomy.org/media/files/pdf/TechReport.pdf.