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Jewell: Tech professionals key to NRV growth

Jewell is executive director of Onward New River Valley.

It is an amazing time to work in the tech sector in the New River Valley (NRV). The Roanoke Times recently covered a report through Valleys Innovation Council that projects 1,250 new jobs in Information Technology (IT) are coming to the New River and Roanoke valleys over the next 18 months. They anticipate 801 of these jobs to be created in the NRV. This presents the NRV with a tangible opportunity to further solidify its growing tech sector as it would increase IT employment by 50 percent.

The NRV is home to 80 diverse tech companies ranging from local startups to satellite offices of major tech companies. More than 1,600 IT professionals are taking advantage of a wide-variety of jobs and challenging career paths in the NRV. These professionals are helping define and advance cutting-edge technologies in blockchain, unmanned systems, cybersecurity, software, networks, and digital creative.

The tech sector in the NRV has been quietly building steam for several years now. From 2013 to 2018, employment through IT companies grew by 29 percent. To put that figure into perspective, total employment in the NRV grew by five percent during the same period. We also know that last year alone there were 859 IT job openings in the NRV. Based on recent trends, we anticipate that number to grow to over 1,000 by the end of this year.

Tech jobs are very important to the economic vitality of the NRV. The average IT professional earns $70k per year in the NRV. This is 60 percent more than the average salary in the NRV which causes a ripple effect through our economy. The 2019 CompTIA Cyberstates report estimates that a single IT job creates 4.8 additional jobs in the service sectors.

To learn more, check out the whole article below.