Innovation Economy and What It Can Mean for Upstate NY

Talented, well-educated people are the first ingredient to a successful Upstate NY

In Upstate New York, we know the story all too well – kids grow up, go to our great colleges, and leave for greener pastures.  

We all have plenty of people we know that fall into this group, but it’s not just anecdotal. Just a few months ago, the Press & Sun Bulletin in Binghamton documented this trend, noting that 42 of the 50 Upstate Counties have seen population declines since the last census.

As a tech CEO and job creator myself, I know that talented, well-educated people are the first ingredient to a successful region.  Yet, despite having one of the highest concentrations of colleges and universities as any region in the nation, Upstate New York has cornered the market on its top export – our talent.  This trend is all the more troubling when you consider the impact of this outflow, as described by Berkeley Economist Enrico Moretti, in his great book, The New Geography of Jobs.  Moretti writes about the impact of brain drain on the long term viability of a community – an issue we know all too well in Upstate.

Moretti isn’t the first to sound the warning bell on this issue and certainly won’t be the last.  We’ve seen decades of politicians promising jobs to Upstate to stop the outflow of talent. One in particular promised that, if elected, they would create 200,000 jobs in Upstate New York.  That was in 2000, nearly 20 years ago!

The reality is that politicians don’t create jobs.  Jobs are created by entrepreneurs and business leaders that have identified a product or service that has a clear commercial opportunity – meaning they can provide something that someone else needs and is willing to pay to get.  I’m going to be exploring this idea fully in the coming months and plan to have much more to say about it.

Moretti offers great insight on what it takes to build a robust and sustainable modern economy.  He focuses on innovation economy jobs, tech jobs that have significant impact on the economy through a multiplier effect.  He writes, in fact, that for every innovation economy jobs created, five more jobs are created to support that job.

These types of jobs are the jobs that can stem the loss of population and shift Upstate into growth mode, providing opportunities for our children and generations to come.  We have plenty of work to do to reshape our economy, but the Upstate Jobs Party is ready to focus full time effort on doing just that. Stay tuned for what’s next!