The Miami Power Poll says "We need to invest in tech education"

March 1, 2021 6:00am
Photo of Bob Oliva
Miami, FL Correspondent

The San Francisco Bay Area leads the nation with over 387,000 highly compensated tech jobs, and Washington DC is quickly making up ground with Amazon's selection of Arlington Virginia as home to its new HQ2.

The San Francisco Bay Area leads the nation with over 387,000 highly compensated tech jobs, and Washington DC is quickly making up ground with Amazon’s selection of Arlington Virginia as home to its new HQ2.  Perhaps one of the main benefits offered to Amazon was local universities' commitment to tech education. George Mason University is building a $250 million tech center in Arlington, and Virginia Tech University is building a $1 Billion Innovation Campus nearby in Alexandria. According to those close to the negotiation, it was critical for Amazon to have a talent pool to meet their labor force requirements. Competition for these high paying tech jobs is heating up among US cities that seek to build healthier communities with steady tax revenues from the growing highly compensated tech industry. According to TechRepublic, San Francisco leads the nation with an average tech annual salary of $123,826 and number twelve Austin Texas is at $95,118. Compare this to Miami’s median household income of $51,347 and it is easy to see the need to compete for these jobs.

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So can Miami and South Florida compete with the mad rush to attract enough tech companies in order to create a tech-hub to generate a steady tax revenue stream to diversify from its real estate driven economy? Almost 42% of our Power Poll members see the local talent pool as Miami’s biggest challenge with 25% seeing the lack of affordable housing.

An early study by The Rockefeller Foundation and Transportation for America found that many Millennials don’t want to rely so much on their cars, they want access public buses and trains, they also want excellent walking and biking areas. It also shows that 70% could not afford to live in an area without access to public transportation. No secret that public transportation has been an issue in Miami-Dade for some time with congestion continually getting worst on all the main highways. So what to do about it? An overwhelming 92% says that while it is a major issue, further evaluation is needed to address the issue.

The Knight Foundation has been committed by investing +$55 million in driving tech initiatives with local South Florida institutions. The latest is a program with Florida International University, the University of Miami and Baptist Health. Ten million will be given to FIU to create the Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences, $4.3 million will go to the University of Miami for the Data Science and Computing, and $1 million will go to Baptist Health for an innovation fellowship.  With 75% of the Power Poll saying that most of the needed talent will have to come from outside the region, it adds an additional challenge for local leaders to address.   

San Francisco has the highest number of tech jobs and the highest median household income at $123,859, while Austin the twelfth in tech jobs, jumps to eighth in median household income at $75,413 showing the tech industry’s impact. Where should we invest the extra tax funds that will be generated from the growing tax base? The majority of the Power Poll says tech education in the local school system needs to be addressed, with 27% agreeing that inequality is a problem but is undecided as to how to approach this issue.

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