How to transform a “good old boys” economy into a STEM hub

Editor’s note: Here’s a New Year’s resolution!

“If there’s a single economic indicator of the health of the job market in a given location, it’s the number of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs,” writes Outside magazine. “The average annual salary for STEM workers across the country is $81,000 compared to $47,000 for other jobs, and STEM fields grew 11.4 percent between 2001 and 2015 compared to 4.5 percent for all other fields. With more than half of all STEM jobs in computer-related positions, it’s easy to assume that you have to move to tech meccas like the Bay Area and Seattle to get in on the rush. But as it turns out, growing number of towns offer both a large number of tech gigs and the ability to live an active lifestyle.”


Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

8 thoughts on “How to transform a “good old boys” economy into a STEM hub”

  1. Nevada City and Grass Valley are called “eagles’ nests,” small, high-quality-of-life towns that attract high tech workers and companies who are so good they can choose where they live. Many techies refuse to move to places like Silicon Valley. I worked three years for Xilinx Inc. in San Jose, but my office was here. Increasingly, knowledge work is something you do, not someplace you go.

  2. What a hoot! George Rebane thinks he “invented” STEM as an economic-development tool in our towns. It is redolent of Al Gore thinking he invented the internet. “Look at me, look at me”! I was Drew Bedwell’s planning commissioner!

    Of course, what Rebane also doesn’t realize is that support for the recent “climate change” agreement and attracting millennial STEM workers in our towns go hand in hand. Read “How to win millennials: Equality, climate change and gay marriage”:

    The views expressed on “Rebane’s Ruminations” would make college-educated millennials/STEM workers retreat at what a “backward town” we are. George Rebane is the dinosaur in the room and doesn’t even know it. ROFLOL.

  3. So I know no one was suggesting this but one problem many rural regions have is they pick an economic development sector, put all their eggs in that basket often because they have limited capacity, and focus on execution there. Many people have done that with STEM, thinking if they have STEM proficient students and invest in attracting those companies, jobs will follow. The reality is there are a lot of other attributes to those cities listed above that make them STEM magnets: major universities, local pools of investment capital, existing companies with R & D capacity, etc,

    STEM is important, but in rural regions the biggest need is to create an ‘entrepreneurial ecosystem.’

    Participants might be schools, universities (or community colleges or university extensions in rural areas), private sector leaders and mentors, and investors (both traditional like banks and non-traditional like investing clubs or crowd-funding). Labor (because of apprenticeship programs and workforce training programs) and government are important stakeholders. Finally private foundations and community foundations can also play an important role. Community leadership is critical.

    The trick is to get the people that actually live in a place to think like entrepreneurs. When they think like entrepreneurs it filters into every sector of the economy; STEM, recreation, the arts, tourism, energy, resource management, services, etc.

    Thus social and community leaders can play a pivotal role. When they are bitter old curmudgeons that spend all of their time judging other peoples ideas, religions, sexuality, national origin, race, politics and gender….well that can be an impediment…but most young people and smart people just ignore them.. you can just keep moving forward confident that every community is either a few good ideas or a few funerals away from greatness 🙂

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