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April 14, 2008

WE'RE #2!

We are thrilled to announce that the co-chairs of our panel to select the "35 Under 35" entrepreneurs of the region will be webMethods founder Phillip Merrick, and former Netpreneur leader Mary MacPherson. Merrick's firm became one of the region's biggest tech success stories, and MacPherson's program from 1998 to 2003 became legendary for creating the region's first entrepreneurial ecosystem. And thanks again to our partners in this search:  Deloitte, Greenberg Traurig, and Fortune Magazine.


If the Washington D.C. region were a single state (we'll call it Beltwaytropolis), it would employ the second-most tech workers in the country, trailing only California. That's the word from the American Electronics Association in a just-released study that takes a look at tech workers around the country. While the annual report began in 1996, this is the first year AeA broke down stats by region, not just states.


Swelling with pride in our hometown, we zipped over to the AeA's office on Pennsylvania Avenue (the front door is actually on Indiana Avenue, but we guess that's not as prestigious an address) to doublecheck with CEO Chris Hansen and research VP Matt Kazmierczak that we read it right. Here they show off their fancy new study. "Most people don't realize this area is filled as much as it is with tech workers," Matt said, adding that many of the region's 471,900 private sector tech jobs aren't tied to government contracts. The region's $39.8 billion tech payroll is #2 as well. California topped the employee number with double ours. Ironically, because the Feds are here, Matt tells us, many California companies keep offices here, adding to our count.



Chris tells us that tech employment in the region will continue to grow (like those papers on his desk), despite challenges. Tech companies are struggling to find capable workers, he says, because of green card issues. "Almost half the engineering students at US universities come from overseas, and when they graduate most of them must return home," he says. "Tech companies are losing an enormous amount of talent. The demand for tech jobs right now greatly outpaces the supply." So if you're thinking about night school for that engineering degree, now's the time.



For the second year in a row, Virginia had the nation's highest percentage of tech employees among states. In the Commonwealth, 9.1% of the private-sector workforce takes home paychecks from tech companies. By the way, we don't know what those wires do in this picture, but at least they make Matt and Chris look techy.



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