It has been 15 years since Wally Altes, former president of the Albany Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce coined the phrase “Tech Valley”. The Chamber officially launched the Tech Valley Brand in early 1998. The Tech Valley Brand has helped to revitalize the Capital Region in upstate New York. 20 counties partnered together to brand the region as Tech Valley.
In 1998, the economy of the Capital Region often referred to as “Smallbany” had suffered from a decline in traditional manufacturing and an over reliance on state government as its economic engine. The region’s reputation as a center for technology research was in its infancy. There were many skeptics that the Capital Region could compare itself to places like San Jose, California or Austin Texas.
However, Altes noticed that there were a lot of technology startups in the region that were beginning to join the Chamber. The intent of the Tech Valley Brand was not to market the region as a semi-conductor hub but to focus on a wide range of tech industries that were beginning to take hold including software development, video games, biotech drug development and alternative energy.
The Tech Valley name took a while to catch on outside of the Capital Region. The Tech Valley name gained credibility when it was announced in 2006 that Advanced Micro devices would build a billion dollar chip facility in Saratoga County. The expansion of the Albany Nano Tech facility at the SUNY Albany has made the Capital Region an important destination for researchers. Another important step forward is the decision by the M+W Group to move its headquarter to the Watervliet Arsenal.
Tech Valley boasts 23 colleges and universities with 65,000 students. Rensselaer and Union College have been ranked among the nation’s most computer-savvy universities. The University at Albany and RPI are internationally renowned for their research and development centers for advanced technology.
Branding the region Tech Valley was a wise decision. The Tech Valley region is now becoming recognized as a premier site for high technology innovative companies. Marketing the region as a place for high tech nationally and internationally has stabilized the area and created new jobs and a renewed identity. The numbers are impressive. Unemployment in the Capital Region is currently 6.9% compared to 7.9 in all of New York State. The area is also experiencing population growth.
From your perspective, what do you see as the benefit of Branding the Capital Region Tech Valley?