US Mayor Article

New Report on High-Tech Credits Cities with 'Leading America's New Economy'
Conference President Coles Identifies High-Tech Workforce, and Infrastructure Development among Top Priorities during Tenure

By Jubi Headley and Kevin McCarty
July 17, 2000


The United States Conference of Mayors and the National Association of Counties (NACo) have jointly unveiled new economic data showing that metro areas are driving the nation's high tech economic boom, with 94% of high-tech output and employment concentrated in metro areas. The data released is included in the report, U. S. Metro Economies: Leading America's New Economy.

The report, prepared by Standard & Poor's DRI, also shows that:

  • More than 70% of the nation's high-tech employment is located in fifty metro areas.

  • Twenty U. S. metro areas account for 50% of the nation's high-tech output.

  • The top ten high-tech metro areas, taken together, exceed the combined output of the 39 smallest states.

The report further documents the spread of high-tech business across America. For example, San Jose, the center of the computer hardware industry and a high-tech stronghold throughout the 1980's and 1990's, is still a powerhouse in the high-tech sector. However, the Silicon Valley metro area now ranks second to Boston in high-tech output, and fifth in the share of U. S. high-tech employment—behind Washington (DC), Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

In addition, the report shows that the diffusion of high-tech industries across America has benefited smaller and mid-sized cities as well as America's largest metro areas. Pocatello, Idaho, for example, has seen the greatest level of one-year growth in its high-tech sector—more than 25 percent between 1998 and 1999 (see chart, "High-Tech Metro Leaders by High-Tech Growth). The list of the top ten cities experiencing the greatest levels of growth—among them Boise City (ID), Burlington (VT), Columbia (MO), and Lubbock (TX)—shows how the growth in high-tech industries is reaching into all parts of the nation.

As a result of this data, Standard & Poor's DRI concludes in the report that U.S. metro areas are "the engines of U. S. economic growth and the source of new high-technology industries."

Conference President and Boise Mayor H. Brent Coles has outlined an agenda for his tenure as President which includes calling for a greater investment in high-tech workforce development and public education, and devising strategies to bridge the 'digital divide.' He has also emphasized the need to expand and enhance the national high-tech infrastructure. Following is an excerpt from his inaugural speech, given during the 68th Annual Meeting of the Conference of Mayors in Seattle on June 13:

"…We will work with the private sector to build the technology infrastructure that is vital to the health and livability of the New American City. We must build the latest communications technology and broadband capability into new developments and incorporate it into redeveloped areas. We will find ways to bridge the digital divide and make technology available to all.

"…We must assure that all our citizens have access to computers and the Internet and that they know how to use these tools. I believe we must actively work with the Business Council to support technology in schools and technology training for workers.

"We will work with local school districts, federal and state governments to assure that all classrooms in all schools are equipped with up-to-date technology including Internet and Intranet connections and that teachers are appropriately trained.

"The Conference will support programs to provide training and internships to prepare….workers for information technology jobs. As Mayors, we must take the lead by providing basic technology training to our city employees."

The full report and accompanying charts are available online at usmayors.org.

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