Hoeven, Chamber Conference Showcases State's Cutting-Edge Technology Sector

North Dakota Ranks First in Nation in STEM Job Growth

FARGO, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven kicked off today’s technology business conference touting North Dakota’s first-place ranking in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) job growth for the second year in a row. The influential national ranking by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also named North Dakota number one for long-term and short-term job growth, gross state product growth and per capita income growth in its Enterprising States 2013 study.

“Technology is a key to our success,” Hoeven said. “From the advanced equipment and methods that are driving economic growth in western North Dakota, to the cutting-edge innovations that are driving growth in agriculture, information, biotech, health care and aviation businesses in the Red River Valley, technology is fueling our state’s economic vitality. It is technology that is driving our 13.4 percent economic growth rate – five times the national average – and it is technology that is raising average incomes statewide. Whether you live and work in Williston or Fargo, Grand Forks or Dickinson, this conference is important for all of us statewide.”

Hoeven and the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo Chamber of Commerce again hosted the conference this year in what has become an annual event designed to highlight the Red River Valley’s cutting-edge technology sector and help businesses statewide leverage technology to grow and expand.

The senator showcased the work of some of the key presenters at the event, including Evolution1, which has created a smartphone application that can drive down the cost of health care and has already saved employees more than $2 billion in 2012 through lower annual healthcare costs, reductions and tax savings. These savings enable employers to continue providing health insurance while putting more money in their employees’ wallets to pay for healthcare costs, the company said.

Pedigree Technology, another Red River Valley company, has developed a mobile-to-mobile app that enables a farmer or a company to know at any given moment where its fixed and mobile assets are. Most personal of all, Myriad Devices has developed an app for cellphones that can help users stay alive if they are stuck in the middle of a blizzard by alerting authorities to their location. This is just one of the products created by Myriad Devices, which develops apps for businesses large and small across the country.

“These Red River Valley companies and others across North Dakota are blazing new trails and helping to drive North Dakota’s economy,” Hoeven said. “Now, we need to build on their success.”

Hoeven said the state’s growing information technology (IT) industry is vital not only to the nation’s economy, but has become a key sector in North Dakota’s. According to the Information Technology Council of North Dakota, the industry has between 200 and 400 high-tech, high-paying job openings on any given day that pay, on average, 48 percent more than the state’s average.

Technology jobs in the state 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, the industry contributes $1.6 billion to North Dakota’s economy, including $931 billion in pay.

Hoeven also highlighted one of the most pressing challenges for the industry, in both North Dakota and nationwide: making sure it has the skilled workforce it will need in the future. The senator said that is why he is working in the U.S. Senate to push STEM education initiatives to support North Dakota’s thriving technology sector.

Last year, Hoeven cosponsored the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which would give schools, administrators and teachers flexibility to implement STEM programs to prepare students for the careers of the future. In North Dakota, the legislation would help to drive jobs, innovation and economic growth in the state’s technology center. New education bills have been introduced in the current session, and the senator is working to incorporate STEM education features into them as well.

In addition, the Senate immigration bill that passed in June had a provision cosponsored by Hoeven that supported the tech industry. The measure created a grant program to promote state STEM education initiatives that are fully paid for through high-skilled foreign worker visa and green card fees.

The senator is also 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.