SSTI Digest

The latest reporting and analysis on breakthroughs in technology-based economic development research and issues that matter most to you. To receive the SSTI Weekly Digest via email, sign up here.


States making headway in closing the rural-urban divide in access to high-speed broadband service

Access to reliable and fast internet service is a foundational element for the modern economy. Since the advent of broadband service its delivery has been highly divided between urban and rural areas. Many states are continuing to address this divide and took action in 2019. Several states repealed laws prohibiting local electric companies and co-ops from providing broadband services, other states initiated official planning efforts to expand internet services, and many approved and dispersed funding to develop broadband infrastructure in rural areas.

Useful Stats: Income inequality growing nationally and in all states, 2006-2018

From 2006 to 2018, income inequality has risen continuously both nationwide and in all states (but not in the District of Columbia). Annual changes vary widely for state income inequality, with some states experiencing increases year after year, and others displaying more volatile trends consisting of both sharp annual decreases and increases.

Election results could yield new state policies; TX doubles cancer R&D

Democrats made some gains in Virginia’s Legislature, and in Kentucky, the governor’s seat looks to be turning over to a Democrat, but the current Republican is requesting a recanvass in the close race. If those results hold, Democratic challenger and current Attorney General Andy Beshear will take the seat from incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin, ending the state’s Republican trifecta (where one party holds the governorship and both chambers of the legislature). Mississippi’s gubernatorial seat remained in Republican control, while the gubernatorial election in Louisiana takes place on Nov. 16, and the incumbent Democratic governor there is seeking another term. Following Tuesday’s elections, the divided government in Virginia turned into a Democratic trifecta in Virginia, as Republicans lost their hold in both the House and Senate. Those outcomes and results from several state legislative elections, along with the results of several innovation-related initiatives, are highlighted below.

U.S. small business exports is a $541 billion market — where does your state stand?

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Google released a new analysis of export activity by U.S. small businesses. Results, based on surveys and Global Trade Analysis Project data, find $541 billion in national economic output, just 2.8 percent of the U.S. total.

Recent Research: Inventor concentration boosts productivity

Jennifer Roche prepared the following summary of a recent Enrico Moretti working paper for the November 2019 issue of the NBER Digest. The summary has been edited here for length and clarity; SSTI comments are in brackets.

Several states in play this election cycle for innovation initiatives, gubernatorial and legislative elections

As voters head to the polls next week, some will be deciding the fate of innovation and development-related initiatives, while voters in Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi will be voting in gubernatorial elections. The initiatives include a possible additional $3 billion in Texas for cancer research. And in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia, legislative chambers are holding regular elections. Those races and initiatives are covered below.

Planning underway to increase energy technology development in rural areas

The U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have announced an agreement between them to promote rural energy and the development of technologies “that will support and advance rural and agricultural communities and domestic manufacturing.” The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which was required under the 2018 Farm Bill, is expected to increase the economic development of rural areas through new energy technologies and investments.

Decreased state funding for higher ed resulting in higher costs for students, increased inequality

Rising tuition and worsened racial and class inequality are two of the effects of decreasing state support for higher education, according to a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.  In it the authors detail how overall state funding for public two- and four-year colleges has not fully recovered in most states following the recession, leaving higher costs and reduced services in many cases.

States with new university-industry partnerships & research capacity activities work to strengthen economies and talent pipelines

Research universities and their partnerships with industry, including an institution’s research capacity, are important elements to building a state’s economy as well as the national economy and talent pipeline and workforce.

SSTI encourages OSTP to support bioeconomy through commercialization, apprenticeship assistance

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is exploring a national strategy to promote the U.S. bioeconomy. In response to a request for information, SSTI submitted a letter encouraging OSTP to leverage existing regional assets as part of its approach. To see more innovations converted into new products, services and businesses, the letter encourages a new program to fund commercialization assistance and to strengthen SBIR.

Useful Stats: Median Household Income by State, 1984-2018

While rankings and annual indices are catnip for some looking to gain attention for their latest rankings, SSTI has always argued that it’s long-term trends that give the best sense of where a state or region stands. With recent release of income data, SSTI has examined the last 34 years data in median household income for each state. SSTI found that while median household income — adjusted to 2018 dollars — has risen in nearly every state and the U.S. since 1984 with an average annual rate of increase of 0.8 percent, the growth, not surprisingly, varies widely among individual states.

Declining innovation funding threatens future economy

Two recent reports highlight the importance of funding innovation in the U.S., and give a glimpse into the perils of ignoring it. The reports, from The Aspen Institute and Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), independently corroborate the role of the public sector in ensuring a more prosperous future through innovation.

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