With the COVID-19 spike in cases, our class met virtually over Zoom for the January session on Technology and Tourism. We started our morning hearing from Julie Demers, Executive Director at NH Tech Alliance. She provided us with some great insight on how the tech field is a huge driver in the state bringing in 11.2 billion dollars annually. The pandemic has certainly had its impact on tech companies leaving 2,500 unfilled jobs in the state annually. Most of the unfilled tech jobs have higher wages than most jobs in the state. With the need for these positions filled, NH is now competing with jobs from all over the globe now that most jobs have a remote option, creating greater competition. All other speakers throughout the day expressed the same employment issue that we are unable to compete when residents can continue to live in NH but earn a salary of the Boston area.
With 1 in every 4 Americans having a relationship with Fidelity in some way, it was amazing to hear the insight of what they do in the community. They work hard to shape our investing, technology, and digital experience. Most people think of Fidelity as an investment company but they do so much more, now including healthcare options. They are always updating and improving their technology and security so each client has peace of mind that their investments and personal information are secure. Lately, they have been developing a new voice recognition software to give each account a more secure access. With a community-driven mindset, Fidelity continues to take leaps to lessen its carbon footprint now being over 50% paperless and providing 50% of its electricity from their 12-acre solar farm.
Representatives from Oracle and BAE shared with us how their database management systems help in more ways than we may think of. Both working internationally, their products are used by many companies that we utilize regularly, including technology that is used in planes that we all use for travel. We learned that Oracle has proprietary software that cant process large amounts of data in short amounts of time. This software is used anywhere from international conglomerates to the departments in the U.S. government. BAE is tasked with developing top-of-the-line technology to protect our troops. Advancing their technology to stay ahead of the world is clearly no easy task. Artificial intelligence and Electronic Combat is the main developments in New Hampshire locations.
The second half of the day taught us about tourism in the state, opening all of our eyes to how much the pandemic impacted it. We were graced with hearing from speakers from the NH State’s Division of Travel and Tourism, President of NH Ski, Director of Outdoor Education, President & CEO of NH Lodging and Restaurant Association, and General Manager of the Nashua Silver Nights. With COVID limiting tourist opportunities, each avenue faces the challenge of how to boost visitors and how to encourage out-of-state travelers to come visit NH. Rebuilding the tourism industry not only faces the challenges of bringing in visitors but with climate change affecting ski conditions and the cost of housing rising, there are other factors to take into consideration to boost interest in activities. Even if all these factors did not play a role, NH is suffering with its workforce. Many low-wage jobs remain open putting strain on entertainment and activities, making it harder for everyone to bounce back. It becomes increasingly difficult to hire someone to work a concession stand throughout the summer when other jobs are offering a higher starting wage. However, when a family expects a fun night out at a ball game, lack of concession stands could further damage the industry. There is a lot of regrowth to be had and a lot of challenges that those in the industry are yet to face. Hopefully, 2022 brings new opportunities and growth.
Chelsey Logan, Director of Volunteer Resources, Humane Society for Greater Nashua