Gov. Shumlin, Mayor Weinberger, tech businesses highlight growth in Vermont high-tech industry, Great Jobs in Vermont effort
BURLINGTON – Oct. 22, 2014 -- Joined by Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, tech business owners, economic development officials and others at the new business Ello in Burlington, Gov. Peter Shumlin today touted the upcoming 2014 Vermont Tech Jam being held on Friday and Saturday, and highlighted Vermont’s growing high-tech industry and national recognition.
“We’re at Ello today because this company – the hottest new social media site since Facebook -- is a great example of this booming part of our economy,” Gov. Shumlin said. “Ello is not alone. There are new companies across Vermont looking for employees to take these cutting-edge jobs. The growing popularity of Vermont Tech Jam is a testament to this thriving sector of our economy.”
Ello, which was co-founded by CEO Paul Budnitz, is an ad-free social network site with the motto “Beautiful, Simple and Ad-Free.” The site has seen exponential growth since its launch, particularly from people seeking an alternative to Facebook.
“Like Vermont, Ello is beautiful. Also like Vermont, Ello does not allow billboard advertising of any kind,” said Budnitz. “Ello is a very Vermont business — this is a state with a long history of successful businesses that take a stand for what they believe in, and make money doing it.”
The 8th Vermont Tech Jam (there were two Tech Jams in 2008), presented by Dealer.com and MyWebGrocer, takes place on Friday and Saturday, October 24 and 25, at Memorial Auditorium in Burlington. The Tech Jam is organized by independent newsweekly Seven Days and the Vermont Technology Alliance, the trade organization for the tech sector. The two were part of a coalition of public and private sector partners who started the Tech Jam in 2008.
“Tech Jam is one of the most exciting, optimistic events of the year,” said Mayor Weinberger. “The annual growth of the event reminds us how far the region’s tech sector has come and demonstrates Burlington’s potential to be a great tech city. Thanks to innovators like Paul Budnitz and his remarkable creation, Ello, Burlington is becoming recognized as an outstanding place to launch a start-up and grow tech businesses.”
The Vermont Tech Jam is a job fair and tech expo, with 60-plus exhibitors including some of Vermont’s largest employers (Fletcher Allen, IBM, Keurig Green Mountain, the State of Vermont, Dealer.com) to some of its newest startups (Notabli, Xemory Software, GameTheory, Designbook). Colleges, universities and job training programs will also exhibit, including Champlain College, Vermont Tech, UVM Continuing and Distance Ed, CCV, Vermont Law School and Vermont Works for Women's Step Up to IT program.
Cathy Resmer, Associate Editor of Seven Days and one of Tech Jam’s organizers, said exhibitor space sold out this year for the fourth year in a row. There are half a dozen companies on the waiting list. She said at least 48 exhibitors are actively looking to fill technical positions, including longtime Tech Jam supporters like Dealer.com, MyWebGrocer, Keurig Green Mountain, LORD MicroStrain, Logic Supply, Vermont Information Processing, Greensea Systems, Global-Z International, Middlebury Interactive Languages and SoundToys, as well as first-time exhibitors asicNorth, Linear Technology, IrisVR, Notabli, Level 3, Xemory Software and A.N. Deringer of St. Albans. Seven Days publishes its annual Tech Issue on the Wednesday before the Jam; 36,000 copies hit the streets on Wed. October 22. The Tech Jam program guide is inserted into every issue (see schedule below).
The State of Vermont has been a strong supporter of the Tech Jam, through the Agency of Education, the Agency of Commerce and Community Develop and the Vermont Department of Labor, all of which are sponsoring the Jam in various ways. The State of Vermont departments of Human Resources and Labor are also exhibitors.
“Not only do we help connect employers to job seekers, we also help tell the tech story of Vermont,” Resmer said. She noted that in January 2014, the website techie.com named Burlington one of the country's Top 10 Most Promising Tech Hubs to Watch, citing the Tech Jam as one of the reasons.
In addition, the Governor said the state’s newly launched Great Jobs in Vermont campaign has seen early success. Great Jobs is a marketing and job posting site, launched in collaboration with the Department of Labor’s “Vermont Job Link,” connects job seekers in and out of state with exciting available job openings in Vermont businesses. Vermont’s autumn microsite that hosts GreatJobsinVT.com has seen strong traffic through the autumn season, receiving over 44,000 users since September 10. Of the users, about 15,980 were from New York, 10,369 were from Massachusetts, 7,720 were from New Jersey, and 2,560 were from Vermont.
Kurt Nielsen of Keurig Green Mountain, founder of the Vermont Recruiters Association, said the group is using the Great Jobs in VT LinkedIn site to help get the word out about jobs openings. The LinkedIn group has already grown to 567 members with 138 current job postings. The Association was formed to attract and keep good employees from both inside and outside Vermont.
“With the growth of companies such as Ello, Dealer.com, Pwnie Express and other worldwide leaders in the tech sector, Vermont is becoming known nationally and internationally as a hotbed of technical ingenuity,” said Pat Moulton, Secretary of Commerce and Community Development. “And Burlington is fast joining the ranks of Boulder, Palo Alto, Cambridge and other start-up centers as an incubator for innovation.”
In addition to Ello, other recent startups include:
- Faraday of Middlebury, which uses computer learning to predict customer behavior and identify ways customers can save on energy.
- Yonder, the Woodstock-based app that Backpacker calls “What happens when Instagram and Foursquare meet at REI.”
- Pwnie Express of Barre, the maker of what WIRED Magazine has called “the little white box that can hack your network.”
- Inntopia, the Stowe-based developer of software for resort bookings and online reservations that was recently sold to Northstar Travel Media.
- Localvore of Burlington, an alternative to Groupon that just received another round of private funding.
- Logic Supply of South Burlington, which makes industrial-strength mini-computers that don’t break and are used by the Coast Guard and more.
- And Middlebury Interactive, which has doubled in size in the past 5 years and more than 170,000 students at 1,200 schools around the country use its digital language courses.
“These are the kinds of jobs that will keep Vermonters home, and attract people from across the country who want to work, play and raise their families here,” Gov. Shumlin said.
Tech Jam highlights, provided by Cathy Resmer:
-- More than 400 middle and high school students from all across Vermont will visit the Tech Jam on Friday, October 24. Field trips will arrive from Middlebury, Williamstown, South Hero, Cabot, St. Albans, Moretown and Burlington, among others. Peter Drescher, the Agency's Technology Coordinator, has organized a showcase of student projects on the Student STEM Stage.
-- Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe will be speaking at a press conference on Friday, October 24, to announce a new statewide initiative with Google and the State's Division of Historic Preservation.
-- Seven Days and The Agency of Commerce and Community Development present the Tech Tank, a 90-minute series of short talks that highlight innovative Vermont companies, including Greensea Systems, Mack Molding, Logic Supply, Dealer.com and MyWebGrocer.
-- David Bradbury offers a guided tour of VCET@BTV, Burlington's new tech hub in the FairPoint building across the street from the Jam.
-- The Vermont Technology Alliance will announce the winners Tech Jam Awards, sponsored by Merchants Bank, in Generator, Burlington's maker space. Commerce Secretary Patricia Moulton presents the awards Friday night. Finalists for the Innovation Award: IBM, Greensea Systems and Stone Environmental; finalists for the Ambassador Award: Girl Develop It Burlington, UVM Department of Computer Science, Bradley Holt and Jason Pelletier of Found Line.
-- Seven Days and Kids VT are hosting a Girls in STEM luncheon. We're providing lunch for invited tech savvy teens interested in tech careers and local women role models in STEM fields, including Maureen McElaney of Dealer.com, founder of Girl Develop It Burlington, Rebecca Grenier, a developer at EatingWell Media Group, IBM engineer Jennifer Robbins and Professor Mercedes Rincon, a patent-holding researcher of UVM's College of Medicine.
-- Vermont EPSCoR presents a panel aimed at helping startups find funding. Presenters include entrepreneurs who have successfully gotten funding through federal SBIR grants (Steve Arms, founder of Microstrain; Jack Glaser, CEO of MBF Bioscience), as well as Cairn Cross from FreshTracks Capital.
-- Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger moderates a panel about BTV Ignite, the city's partnership to leverage the opportunities created by its gigabit, fiber-to-the-home network.
Both days: HR reps offer tips on job-seeking strategies in "How to Get Hired" sessions; Logic Supply teaches people to build basic computers in workshops; GameTheory explains the process behind conceptualizing a successful video game in "paper prototyping" workshops; Vermont makers show their stuff and demonstrate equipment at Generator, Burlington's new maker space.