Vermont’s Mini Tech Boom

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Vermont is in the midst of a mini tech boom, one that’s producing its own share of jobs. While the tech giants of Silicon Valley might not have large outposts in the state, recent activity by area startups and midsize companies has translated into a growing number of IT positions.

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Jeff Couture, executive director at the Vermont Technology Alliance in Burlington, describes the state’s technology sector as diverse. The Alliance’s member companies have added more than 800 jobs over the last two years, and continue to hire.

Investment on the Rise

A maturing group of startups and strong investment activity are big reasons for the job boom, said Dave Bradbury, president of the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies in Burlington. The 2013 Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity picked Vermont as number two on its list of states with the most startup activity in 2012. Venture capital investment for the first nine months of 2014 topped $31.4 million, versus $21 million in the comparable period last year, according to a recent “MoneyTree” report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association.

“There’s a sense of energy and collective optimism in the startup scene here,” Bradbury added.

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Manufacturers have also upped tech investment in the state, which could trickle down to jobs. A survey from Network Performance, a South Burlington technology management firm, suggested that nearly half of the 178 Vermont-based manufacturers polled will make “large” investments in technology, with 7 percent describing their investment as “very large.”

Getting the Attention

Some newsworthy tech upstarts call Vermont home, helping to brighten the spotlight on the state. Facebook contender Ello rolled out its ad-free social network from its home base of Burlington in August, capturing about $5.5 million in venture capital. Localvore Today in Burlington garnered news as the “anti-Groupon” deals site.

Who’s Hiring

Burlington-based Dealer.com will add 70 employees by the end of 2014.

On a smaller scale, Inntopia will add another 10 to 15 jobs in the coming year, including Web developers, database developers and administrators, business analysts, project managers, and support. The small startup, which builds software for resort bookings and online reservations, has 30 employees, with 12 of those jobs added just this year.

At Vermont’s annual Tech Jam, small and midsize companies looking to fill technical positions included asicNorth, Global-Z International, Greensea Systems, IrisVR, Level 3, Linear Technology, Logic Supply, Middlebury Interactive Languages, MyWebGrocer, Notabli, SoundToys, Vermont Information Processing, and Xemory Software.

Skills in Demand

Web technology positions seem to be some of the most in demand in the state, said Inntopia CEO Trevor Crist: “There are a variety of brick and mortar businesses that have really embraced technology to drive their businesses.” From foodie giants such as Ben and Jerry’s and Green Mountain Coffee, to Burton Snowboards and other sporty firms, Vermont is full of companies that have embraced tech as a way of doing more efficient business—and that creates an ever-greater need for software developers, programmers, and engineers.

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