In October, we announced Microsoft TechSpark, a national civic program to introduce initiatives designed to foster greater economic opportunity and job creation in six communities in the United States. Today, we’re announcing four TechSpark regions: El Paso, Texas; Southern Virginia; North Central Basin of Washington, around Quincy; and, Cheyenne, Wyoming. Microsoft is focusing its efforts in these regions along with previously announced Fargo, North Dakota and Northeast Wisconsin.
Technology is rapidly changing our economy, including how we communicate, learn, work and access health care and other essential services, creating opportunities as well as challenges. Regions outside of major metropolitan areas sometimes have been affected by the challenges even more than the country’s largest cities. We aim to bring educators, business, governments, nonprofits and other civic organizations together to turn these challenges into opportunities. By partnering closely with communities on the ground, we aim to learn more about regional challenges and how technology can help local economic growth and create jobs, with a plan to share our learnings more broadly.
The TechSpark initiative focuses on five program areas: digital transformation, digital skills and computer science education, career pathways, rural broadband, and support for nonprofits. In each region we will have a signature project which will be a major investment that we hope will help accelerate a community’s transformation. We announced our first signature project late last year and will announce projects in other TechSpark regions in the coming months.
We’ve been building the foundation for TechSpark more than a year, including recruiting and hiring employees to work with the local community and with the different groups inside Microsoft that will help deliver these programs. I’m pleased to introduce the community managers for the four regions we’re announcing today: JJ Childress in El Paso will manage TechSpark Texas, Dennis Ellis in Cheyenne will manage TechSpark Wyoming, Lisa Karstetter in Quincy will manage TechSpark Washington, and Jeremy Satterfield in Boydton will manage TechSpark Virginia. In addition to dedicated community managers, we will create new opportunities for Microsoft employees to volunteer and engage in projects, including for many, lending a hand in the communities where they grew up.
Our hope is that TechSpark will help communities and businesses work better together to address critical economic challenges at the local level. We believe this model of a deep, long-term community partnership can help communities address their unique needs and create a future-ready workforce and be a catalyst for economic investment and opportunity for all Americans.