It’s a great time to be in the software space in Rochester.  The “help wanted” signs are cluttering the digital storefront.  Experienced developers are company hopping and folks with business development experience as product managers, marketing pros and salespeople are in high demand.  It’s gratifying to watch Rochester’s economy regain its luster and market forces at work.

You don’t hear the pols or economic development leaders describe this phenomenon for a variety of reasons.  RocGrowth enjoys a front row seat.  Our community of over 1,600 followers includes many of the entrepreneurs and the folks they employ or seek to employ.  We are privileged to be in the thick of Rochester’s innovation economy.

I can tell you the young workforce is present; I’ve been watching it for nearly five years since RocGrowth’s inception.  Rochester’s younger generation is growing more engaged.  Witness the progress our frequent partner, Rochester Young Professionals, has made.  Their 2017 Entrepreneur Expo attracted 500 people and 40 exhibitors.  RocGrowth is again lead sponsor of the 2018 expo on the evening of Nov. 13th at NextCorps’ gleaming new accelerator in the Sibley Building.

Our events sell out regularly, reaching their 140-person capacity.  The profile of attendees is increasingly diverse and youthful since we are committed to promoting greater gender, age, racial and class equality.

Additional anecdotal evidence comes from our RocGrowth Coffee events that occur on alternating months at Carlson Coworks.  We feature a half-dozen innovators who have three minute “Lightning Rounds” to appeal openly to the community for assistance with their venture.  The presenters at the upcoming Aug. 3rd event include two RIT students, a recent Colgate grad and a team that has established a blockchain meetup for local techies.

Many Rochester software companies are locally grown; however, we are experiencing two other providential developments.  Because companies are hungry for capable technical talent located in the U.S., we see out-of-town companies acquiring local tech businesses, then growing the workforce here.  Additionally, numerous NYC and Silicon Valley companies are opening satellite operations to employ well paid developers and staff.

These developments are driven by pure economics, not tax incentives or government policy, making the trend more durable and sustainable.  Work remains to seize this opportunity to make Rochester globally recognized, again, for its technology prowess and innovation.  RocGrowth is committed to play its part as a connector, catalyst and activist.

Richard Glaser is co-creator of RocGrowth and RocGrowth Candids and Coffee events. He was presented with Upstate Venture Connect’s Community Catalyst award for organizing programs that bring together diverse startup ecosystem players.