Richmond, VA – Dec. 15, 2006 – Imagine
being able to hire the best employees for your company, and not caring where
they live. Karen Jackson, Director of
the Virginia Office of Telework Promotion and Broadband assistance, asked the
central Virginia technology sector to picture that scenario as she
spoke to the Greater Richmond Technology Council at its monthly breakfast on
Ms. Jackson, who heads up the new
Commonwealth initiative created by Gov. Tim Kaine at the Commonwealth of
Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium (COVITS) in September 2006, is tasked
with addressing workforce, transportation and economic development issues in
the Commonwealth by leveraging and expanding Virginia’s broadband infrastructure. Identified as a key success factor in the Virginia economy, state-wide broadband connectivity will allow
businesses across the state equal access to highly skilled workers and reduce
traffic congestion. Broadband access
will also spur economic development, particularly in areas hard-hit by the
decline in Virginia’s manufacturing sector.
During her presentation, Ms. Jackson
illustrated the power of broadband in economic development with this
example: in Galax, a southwest Virginia community with high unemployment after the closing
of several furniture manufacturing plants, access to broadband allowed Galax
residents to learn clinical coding, giving them opportunities to telework,
coding medical diagnoses for clinical studies, medical insurers and medical
billing. These jobs paid up to $30,000
per year, a significant increase over jobs available in local businesses.
The Commonwealth has asked that
companies state-wide sign a telework pledge in support of the goal of having
20% of Virginia’s workforce teleworking by 2010. The state has committed to that goal, which
will mean that 19,000 of its 95,000 workforce will telecommute by 2009, one
year ahead of the deadline for private enterprise.
addition to the economic benefits brought by broadband access and telework
opportunities, particularly in rural areas, the telework program also addresses
traffic congestion in the Commonwealth, which is legendary in northern Virginia and Tidewater, and the demand for work/life balance that is frequently the deciding factor for
highly-skilled knowledge workers when choosing where to market their skills.
The goals of Gov. Tim Kaine and Secy. of Technology Aneesh Chopra in expanding
broadband access and telework reflect the legislative agenda of the GRTC, which
calls on the Legislature to encourage the use of telework as a strategy in
the Commonwealth’s efforts to increase
the potential employment pool, reduce traffic congestion, enhance disaster
recovery/continuation of operations plans, avoid productivity loss from
inclement weather days, and improve employee satisfaction levels.
The GRTC’s December breakfast was sponsored
by the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT). CIT is a nonprofit corporation that accelerates the next generation of technology and technology companies, creating new technology companies through
capital formation, market development and revenue generation services. To
facilitate national innovation leadership and accelerate the rate of technology
adoption, CIT creates partnerships between innovative technology start-up
companies and advanced technology consumers.
The Greater Richmond Technology Council is an association of businesses and
organizations working together to promote the success of technology companies,
and the growth of the technology sector of the central Virginia economy.