Leading the Charge Toward Innovation

Welcome to our newest column covering the state of innovative IT being deployed for state and local governments. Some of you probably know me from reading my reviews of products and technology aimed at the Federal government, which I have written about for various publications and outlets over the past two decades. To be sure, the type of technology being used by the Federal government is impressive, but personally, I believe that it’s state and local governments that are leading the charge toward innovation.

If you think about it, no matter where you live, it’s the state and local governments that have the most direct impact on your everyday life. They are in charge of the local police who keep us safe, the first responders who answer our calls for help, the workers who fix the potholes in our roads and the lights that keep the night at bay on our streets. Technology done right at the local level can mean a better quality of life. Executed poorly, it can lead to lost revenue, unhappy citizens or lots of wasted hours stuck at the DMV. And nobody wants that!

Because of my love for all things state and local, I was particularly honored when the editors at MeriTalk asked me to create a regular column to celebrate and spotlight the innovation happening in local governments across the country. My plan is to find and share those innovative initiatives, not just the public-facing programs, but also ones that are helping local governments run more efficiently. We might dive into policy just a bit too, especially for states that have changed their policies in response to technology improvements. And finally, I do hope to interview some of the local officials who are driving innovation.

If you work for a state or local government, or a company that is doing something innovative in conjunction with a state, we would love to hear from you. Please contact me at 21ctt@meritalk.com and let me know what you’re doing. I’ll try to collect the most interesting programs for follow-up so they can be featured here in the column.

Even though I am running out of space for this week, I didn’t want to leave without giving you at least one item to think about. This comes from Nevada, a state that has been working hard to attract high-tech companies as part of an economic development program. It’s been going well, with lots of targeted companies moving out to the Silver State. But, state officials realized that the long-term health of a program like that depended on a missing resource: a deep pool of highly trained local workers.

According to Nevada Public Radio station KNPR, Nevada is ramping up that needed support with $626,000 in grants to support training technical workers, including $150,000 to the College of Southern Nevada for the creation of an associate’s degree program in cybersecurity. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Nevada Director of the Governor’s Office of Science, Technology and Innovation Brian Mitchell told KNPR’s State of Nevada that there would be up to $1 million in grant money available every year from the state to support STEM education.

“Nevada had a really functioning and well-developed economic development strategy to diversify the economy and attract high-tech companies like Tesla and Faraday, but we didn’t have a workforce training system that could produce enough workers with the kind of STEM skills these companies were looking for,” Mitchell told KNPR.

So for states looking to attract high-tech companies, don’t forget to also foster a reliable pool of local workers to support them. Not only will that help your business development program, but also provide lots of good-paying jobs for local residents.

 

 

John Breeden II
About John Breeden II

John Breeden II is an award winning journalist and reviewer with more than 20 years of experience covering technology and government. He is CEO of the Tech Writers Bureau, a group that creates technological thought leadership content for organizations of all sizes. Twitter: @LabGuys. Contact him at 21ctt@meritalk.com.

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