The Triangle has been a national center of technology excellence for decades, thanks to visionaries, the intellectual power that flows from our top-tier universities and the global companies that have established their research divisions in our backyard.
Over the years, strong collaboration among the public, private, nonprofit and education sectors at both the state and regional level has been a catalyst, and we are well-positioned to build on this momentum.
The North Carolina State of Technology Industry Report released by the North Carolina Technology Association last month revealed that North Carolina’s technology sector is not just growing, it’s evolving.
Key findings revealed that North Carolina ranks sixth in the country for technology sector employment growth, with a 7.1 percent increase from 2008 to 2013 (well above the national average of 2.1 percent). Also, North Carolina ranks first out of all states in percentage of the technology workforce that is female.
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The NC STIR identifies about a dozen other metrics where North Carolina ranks in the top tier among states, including patents issued, growth in high-tech establishments and state funding for public research universities.
To add to NCTA’s NC STIR findings, recent data compiled by Wake County Economic Development indicate that from February 2014 to February 2015, more than 29 technology companies moved to the Triangle and that 53 local technology companies expanded their workforce. WCED also finds that the average annual wage of knowledge workers in the Triangle is $105,000 per year.
Other important ingredients that will continue to drive the Triangle’s technology-sector growth and evolution include strong education systems, a growing network of startup incubators and accelerators, and an increasing list of companies spanning diverse industries that are choosing to establish their technology operations in the Triangle, resulting in numerous high-quality jobs.
Recent accolades that support these drive.rs include Raleigh’s being named the best city in the country for IT professionals (InformationWeek.com) and the second-most-educated city in the U.S. (WalletHub). These rankings are illustrated by the three tier-one research universities within 30 miles of one another and the seven additional institutions of higher learning in the Triangle alone. Also, 48 percent of Wake County residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and the Triangle boasts the country’s first master’s program in analytics through N.C. State University and the first associate’s program in analytics offered by WakeTech.
What’s paramount to the Triangle’s continued success is clear: developing and retaining an outstanding knowledge-based workforce. As part of collaborative efforts to match companies with the skilled talent they need right here at home, NCTA partnered with WCED and the Council for Entrepreneurial Development to create a job fair called Come Tech Out the Triangle. This one-day job fair has connected thousands of individuals with dozens of companies over the last two years by giving employers access to job seekers and highly skilled conference attendees.
Our region’s continued success will be built on the strength of our knowledge-based workforce.
Adrienne Cole is executive director of Wake County Economic Development. Brooks Raiford is president and CEO of the N.C. Technology Association.