Washington, DC – For the second year in a row, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand hosted her High-Tech Showcase at the nation’s capital in Washington, DC, featuring Western New York companies and high tech institutions, including the University at Buffalo, featuring TheraSyn Sensors, Inc., and Honeywell International. Senator Gillibrand continues to move forward on her Innovation Agenda to create jobs and power New York’s economy for the 21st century. Senator Gillibrand’s Innovation Agenda includes targeted investments in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education, and legislation to promote business incubators and regional economic development strategies.
“No other state is poised to lead in the high-tech economy of the future like New York,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Our state is home to the universities, laboratories, researchers, the bright minds and businesses we need for long-term economic strength. My Innovation Agenda harnesses all of our state’s potential to spark new industries, attract businesses and create new jobs. We’ll arm our classrooms with the math and science teachers we need to prepare all of our students for the jobs of the future, and we’ll make sure every hardworking student has the opportunity to achieve their full potential, and become the innovative leaders that New York needs to compete and win in the global economy.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 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. was 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.
But with research institutions and businesses like the University at Buffalo, featuring TheraSyn Sensors, Inc., and Honeywell International, New York is a worldwide hub of technology and innovation.
The Gillibrand Innovation Agenda
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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 cosponsored 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.
4. 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 introduced 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 plans to introduce 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 emphasize 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.