February 20, 2013 By Tanya Roscorla
For the past year, job preparation for science, technology, engineering and math careers has been at the top of the priority list in The Windy City.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his staff have forged a series of pilots and partnerships that bring STEM education front and center. In the last year, five STEM schools launched with help from partner companies and city colleges. A pilot of Web development courses will start in the fall, and a new partnership with the Navy will provide more STEM education opportunities for students.
"STEM is where the job growth of the future is going to be," said Beth Swanson, deputy chief of staff for education at the mayor's office, "and that's why we've obviously made it a priority here in Chicago on our education reform agenda."
The STEM priority has come from the federal government too. In President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Feb. 12, Obama announced a challenge to redesign high schools so that they prepare graduates for a high-tech economy.
"We'll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering and math — the skills today's employers are looking for to fill the jobs that are there right now and will be there in the future," Obama said in his speech.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.