It’s time for us to take action.
The nation sent a strong signal during November’s election. A good number of American workers say they feel left behind. They don’t have the job or education to partake of the tech revolution that we on the coasts are enjoying.
And yet, really, SF- and NY-based tech companies and entrepreneurs should have a strong interest in expanding in the American heartland — and bringing high-paying jobs with them. Housing is prohibitively expensive. Workers expect ever higher wages and perks. Operating costs are skyrocketing, and profits are more difficult to achieve.
That’s why VentureBeat is kicking off a new initiative: BLUEPRINT, a conversation on how the technology industry can close the opportunity gap in America, and at the same time keep America in its global leadership position economically.
To start with, we’re hosting an exclusive and intimate evening event in San Francisco on June 14. We’re inviting many of Silicon Valley’s prominent technology constituents. While it’s invite-only (and free), space is limited. If you’re as passionate as we are, you can apply for a spot here.
We’ll hear from SoftBank cofounder Ron Fisher, one of the investment managers of the firm’s $100 billion fund that will be used to create 50,000 jobs across America. He’ll join Jon Fortt, CNBC journalist and host of CNBC’s Fortt Knox, in conversation.
But more than investments from big companies is needed. We also need to invest in early- to mid-career retraining. Udacity CEO Vish Makhijani and Brad Stone, senior executive editor of Bloomberg, will address the traits of a workforce equipped for the future.
The third ingredient for success is capital and mentorship for grassroots entrepreneurship. We’ll showcase some success stories from the heartland — inspirational and instructive case studies that can illuminate the path for others.
And, of course, there will be time for networking, cocktails, and hors d’oeuvres.
The evening will also kick off an editorial initiative — led by our editor in chief, Blaise Zerega — to cover this wider theme at VentureBeat.
These efforts will build toward the main event, in Reno on September 11-13. The location is relevant: Reno reduced its unemployment rate to near 4 percent from 14 percent after 170 companies, led by Tesla, Microsoft, and Google, expanded jobs there. Corporate and regional development leaders will explain the impact the movement has had on local economics, culture, and workforce education, and how other companies can do the same — not only in Reno, but across the nation.
Even if you can’t make it to the June kick-off event, I’d like to invite you — leaders of the technology industry, especially those of you in the SF Bay Area — to join the conversation and cause. Contact me here, and I’ll keep you informed of initiative updates.
This is something we at VentureBeat believe in. We’re seeing other groups and events around the country pick up the cause from various angles and interests, including Rise of Rest, Maker Cities, Personal Democracy, the Kauffman Foundation, and many more. We’re partnering with some of these groups. But we’ve yet to see a united, bipartisan, dialogue on how the tech community can contribute. This is our opportunity to come together with some solutions.
Hope you will join us!