Ensuring America's Competitiveness, Creating High-Tech Jobs

After months of continued job losses, Senator Gillibrand launched her Innovation Agenda - a comprehensive plan that includes targeted investments in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education, legislation to promote business incubators and regional economic development strategies, and showcasing high-tech companies and research institutions from every region of New York State in the nation's capital. County by county analysis from the New York State Department of Labor suggests that strategic investments in research and development and STEM education will spur economic growth in the high-tech sector.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that eight out of the nine fastest-growing occupations require science and technology skills. But less than one-third of American students are proficient in math and science, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. China and India are graduating five times more engineers than the U.S. - making these countries more competitive in the high-tech economy.

Before President Obama took office, the U.S. had been experiencing its first multi-year decline in federal investments in research and development in over 25 years. And our trade balance has shifted from a surplus in high-tech goods during the 1990s to a deficit of over $135 billion today.

Despite these stark national trends, New York remains a worldwide hub of technology and innovation. In fact, from 2004 to 2008, New York grew its high-tech industry by nearly 2,000 businesses and nearly $5 billion in increased wages.

Senator Gillibrand's report on New York's high-tech industry.

To harness all of New York's potential to lead America into the high-tech economy of the future and restore America's competitiveness, Senator Gillibrand is launching her Innovation Agenda.

Showcase New York's Best in High-Tech in Washington, D.C.

On October 28, 2009, Senator Gillibrand hosted a high-tech/innovation showcase at the nation's capitol, featuring high-tech companies and research institutions from every corner of New York.

The event is being held in partnership with TechNet - a bipartisan network of high-tech CEOs and Senior Executives that represent more than one million employees in the fields of information technology, clean technology, biotechnology, e-commerce and finance.

This showcase will highlight the exciting ways in which New York high-tech companies and research institutions are driving economic growth and advancing technologies to address some of the most important national issues such as health care, energy and education.  Attendees will have the opportunity to see first-hand high-tech demos and research displays showcasing cutting-edge innovations and the many ways in which New York is leading the way in these emerging industries. This event will bring together many of the nation's premier innovators and high-tech leaders from the private sector, academia and the government to discuss the critical importance of innovation to job creation, quality of life and our continued global competitiveness.

Capital Region
Albany College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering; EYP; Ener-G-Rotors; Global Foundries; and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Southern Tier

Binghamton University
Long Island
Brookhaven National Laboratory; Long Island Forum for Technology; Long Island Software and Technology Network; and State University of New York at Stony Brook

North Country
Clarkson University and SolarNovar

Western New York
University at Buffalo

Rochester/Finger Lakes
ITT Space Systems Division; University of Rochester; Rochester Institute of Technology; Rochester Photonics Cluster; Harris Corporation; and Cornell University

New York City
Polytechnic Institute of New York University; SUNY Downstate's Biotechnology Initiative; EnerNOC; and SMART

Central New York
Sensis Corporation; Lockheed Martin; SRC; The Tech Garden; Welch Allyn; Syracuse Center of Excellence; MedTech; and Clearwire

Hudson Valley/Westchester
Hudson Valley Community College; IBM; and Precision Flow Technologies

Also featured at the showcase will be Dell, Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition, Intel Corporation and Tendril.

Support Entrepreneurs and Business Incubators

One of the biggest obstacles for getting new high tech businesses off the ground is access to capital, especially in the current economic climate.  Supporting entrepreneurs and business incubators is one of the best investments to rebuild areas of New York that were hit hardest by these tough economic times and grow our high-tech sector. According to the Economic Development Administration (EDA), every $10,000 invested in business incubators has the potential to create up to nearly 70 new local jobs. And every dollar devoted to an incubator generates approximately $30 in local tax revenue, according to the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA).

The NBIA also estimates that in 2005 alone, business incubators supported more than 27,000 start-up companies that provided jobs for more than 100,000 workers - generating more than $17 billion in annual revenue.

To foster growth among our high-tech entrepreneurs and business incubators, Senator Gillibrand introduced the Business Incubator Promotion Act, which would provide additional flexibility and funding to support incubators, particularly in areas where there is high unemployment.

Grow Regional Economies and Attract New Businesses

To grow the economy, businesses must work together and draw on regional strengths that can attract more investment to the area. To foster regional economic growth, Senator Gillibrand is pushing the Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) Act - legislation that would award competitive industry or sector partnership grants from $250,000 to $2.5 million to eligible entities to develop cluster-based economic development strategies.  This funding is critical to connecting regional businesses, suppliers, research and development entities, education and training providers, and associated institutions in a particular field to fulfill regional workforce needs and grow regional economies.

From Eastern New York's Tech Valley to Western New York's biotech corridor, to New York City's Bioscience Initiative, the SECTORS Act would provide critical federal investments to some of New York's most promising regional cluster development projects and lay the foundation for our state's long term economic strength in the high-tech sector.

Expand and Build New Science Parks, Incentivize Research and Development

Science parks hold the potential to make major breakthroughs in academic research that translate to promising new business ventures and new jobs. New York is home to some of the nation's best science parks, including at Clarkson University, the University at Buffalo, Binghamton University, the College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering at the University at Albany, New York University and Stony Brook University.

New York City's Bioscience Initiative brings together over a dozen world-class research institutions and business leaders to grow New York's bioscience industry. Its state-of-the-art facilities and leading research has helped secure over $1 billion in federal investments from the National Institutes for Health (NIH) and create over 110,000 related jobs for New York City.

To give all of New York's science parks the resources they need, Senator Gillibrand is cosponsoring the Building a Stronger America Act - legislation that would increase federal grants to $750,000 and guarantees of up to 80 percent on loans exceeding $10 million to build new science parks and expand existing ones.

Additionally, Senator Gillibrand is calling for a permanent extension to the Research and Development tax credit to spur private investment in research and innovation to grow our high-tech sector for the long term.

Produce More STEM Teachers and Graduate More STEM Students

America faces a stark shortage of math and science teachers. In fact, the U.S. will need an additional 283,000 math and science teachers in secondary schools by 2015.

The lack of STEM teachers is taking a serious toll on the amount of STEM students we produce. And the lack of STEM teachers in low-income schools widens the racial and gender gaps among our high-tech workforce:

  • Women represent 43 percent of our workforce, but make up only 23 percent of scientists and engineers;
  • African Americans and Hispanics together represent about 30 percent of our workforce, but make up only 7 percent of scientists and engineers;
  • Together, African Americans and Hispanics receive less than 5 percent of all doctorates in mathematics, physics, chemistry and computer science.

To help equip all of our classrooms with the teachers we need to train more students to be the high-tech innovators of the future, Senator Gillibrand is introducing the Senate version of the National STEM Education Tax Incentive for Teachers Act. The legislation would provide STEM teachers who work in low-income, high-need schools a tax credit to cover 10 percent of their undergraduate tuition - up to $1,000 each year. STEM teachers in schools serving children with disabilities would be able to deduct up to $1,500 each year.

The legislation is a critical tool to attract STEM teachers to low-income schools and help increase the number of low-income students succeeding in STEM classes and pursuing careers in math, science and engineering, which America now lags behind China and India by 5 to 1.

The fastest growing occupations from 2000 to 2010 require expertise in the fields of science and technology, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But less than one-third of American students are proficient in math and science, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. And our existing high-tech workforce is getting older - with more than half of Americans with science and engineering degrees being 40 and older.

To graduate the amount of students we need in math and science to compete in the high-tech economy, Senator Gillibrand is introducing the Undergraduate Scholarships for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Act - the US STEM Act. The legislation would establish a new program under the National Science Foundation to award 2,500 undergraduate scholarships each year for students' full tuition during their last two years at a state institution.

The program would empha attracting more low-income, high-achieving students to pursue degrees in math, science and engineering - making sure every hardworking student has a path to higher education and success in careers that will define the economy of the future.