FARGO, N.D. – Helping to kick-off the 2014 State of Technology Conference in Fargo today, Senator John Hoeven touted North Dakota’s first-place ranking in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) job growth for the third consecutive year in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Enterprising States 2014 study and encouraged business leaders to continue to build on this success to grow the state’s tech industry. Hoeven and the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce are hosting the annual conference to highlight technological innovations in North Dakota’s key industries and to help the state’s businesses find ways to use technology to grow and increase success.
“The Red River Valley companies featured during today’s Tech Conference and others across North Dakota are blazing new trails and helping to drive North Dakota’s booming technology industry which is positively impacting all sectors of our state’s economy,” Hoeven said. “This year, North Dakota is once again adding STEM jobs faster than any other state in the country, with approximately 200 – 400 good, high-tech job openings on any given day. We need to continue building on this success, and today’s Tech Conference serves an important role in bringing together tech leaders from across North Dakota to ensure cutting-edge innovations continue to advance North Dakota’s economy.”
Hoeven citied the Dakota Fiber Initiative (DFI) as an example of how the annual conference is producing ideas that strengthen North Dakota’s position as a technology leader. During the 2013 State of Technology conference, Fargo-based tech magnate Doug Burgum issued a challenge to develop affordable, widely-available, fast and reliable Internet service to every North Dakotan. Considerable progress has been made to meet Burgum’s challenge, including securing of funding for the first phase of research and the creation of a pilot program in the Fargo and West Fargo areas.
“Last year’s Conference led to the creation of the Dakota Fiber Initiative which stands to see the fastest possible Internet in North Dakota,” Hoeven said. “Meeting this challenge will not only improve service for all North Dakotans, but also reflects how the State of Technology conference is producing innovative ideas that stand to transform our technology industry in exciting and innovative ways.”
Technology jobs in North Dakota have grown at twice the national rate since 2002, when Hoeven, as governor, named technology one of the state’s five targeted industries for growth. Today, according to the Information Technology Council of North Dakota, the industry contributes $1.6 billion to North Dakota’s GDP, which includes $931 million in employee pay.
Hoeven is a member of the Senate GOP High-Tech Task Force, which works to ensure that the nation’s technology firms remain at the forefront of the world economy. The task force’s objectives include promoting private sector innovation, creating a business environment to attract leading worldwide technology, enhancing the nation’s competitive workforce and other pro-growth tech policies. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the senator is working to secure funds for programs that support STEM education and research, giving students the skills they need to be the workforce of the future and supporting cutting-edge research at America’s universities and small businesses.