New Jersey: Hub for Communications, Information Technology Innovation
Thanks to the influence of Thomas Edison, the legendary figure who began his inventing career in Newark, New Jersey is a haven for high-tech networks and cutting-edge activities that benefit workers, employers, communities and institutions.
It should have been no surprise, in a state that launched the career of Thomas Edison, to find a deep and thriving information and telecommunications industry in New Jersey.
From the legacy established by the legendary Wizard of Menlo Park, New Jersey boasts one of the nation’s highest concentrations of tech workers and more than 31,000 information and communications technology companies, including more than 1,000 firms that offer data processing, hosting and other gateway services.
Boon to Employment
Total technology employment in the state totaled more than 313,000 workers in 2010, including 63 percent with a bachelor's degree or higher. New Jersey employers' technology-related disciplines paid more than $31 billion in wages in 2010 – about 18 percent of the wages paid in all industries.
Such focus on information and communications technology is transformational throughout the state. At 48.6 percent of households, New Jersey leads all states in the level of broadband penetration. Broadband access is viewed widely as a bellwether economic asset for business and commerce growth.
“The telecommunications industry has been a significant part of New Jersey’s economy for decades, and research has shown that private-sector investment in broadband is a fundamental driver of economic growth and innovation,” says Dennis M. Bone, president of Verizon New Jersey, which, with more than 15,000 employees in the state is one of its largest employers.
Within the industry, Verizon New Jersey is part of ongoing, major investments in communications infrastructure. The company has invested $4 billion in its telecommunications wireline infrastructure alone over the last five years in addition to key spending in wireless access and fiber optics for broadband and video access.
Bone says the telecommunications industry "will continue to be a vital part of New Jersey’s economy and Verizon will continue to support policies that align the state’s industry with the competitive marketplace.”
Supporting the state’s innovation posture are educational assets such as Rutgers University's School of Information and Communication and the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), a noted national research university that has produced more than 130 patents.
Long History of Innovation
Donald H. Sebastian, Ph.D., NJIT senior vice president for research and economic development, calls the New Jersey technology sector a “pillar” of the state’s economy.
“New Jersey is synonymous with telecommunications as the home to iconic firms like AT&T and RCA that created landline, cellular, optical and broadcast communications technologies as well as important software systems that are now synonymous with all aspects of telecom,” Sebastian says.
Sebastian notes that more than a decade ago, NJIT created a separate College of Computing Sciences, recognizing that computing had evolved to a point where it needed a unique pedagogy at the institution. NJIT seeks to expose its students to a range of opportunities to extend their classroom education into the field, Sebastian says, including an active co-op and intern program that places more than 300 students a year as employees of incubator companies.
“We a clear growth in the need for a new breed of IT professional that is able to understand problems of business and personal life and render useful remedies through IT,” Sebastian says.