Innovative technologies will lead from recession to recovery

  • Software engineer Mark Cole does R&D on an optical transport network at Cyan Optics in Petaluma on Wednesday November 24, 2010. Scott Manchester / For The Press Democrat

The recession has charred the local economy during the last few years.

But underneath the dark news of massive foreclosures, high unemployment and record bankruptcies is a small stream of good news that has been gaining momentum.

Sonoma County's tech sector, which suffered its own economic collapse nearly 10 years ago, has been quietly rebounding.

Fast-growing tech companies are now forecast to help rescue the local economy as the sector adds high-paying jobs and attracts outside money from investors, according to a new report by Moody's Economy.com.

"Technology will lead our economy out of the recession," said Ben Stone, director of the Sonoma County Economic Development Board, which commissioned the report. "It will be a path to recovery."

During the next five years, the tech sector will account for nearly half of the fastest growing occupations in the county, according to the Moody's forecast.

That would be a stark turnaround from the last 10 years, when companies cut more than half their local tech jobs.

The sector's recovery is a classic illustration of how business cycles work, with new growth sprouting from the charred remains of a recession.

The tech recovery incubated for several years, as laid-off engineers from the telecommunications industry began fermenting new ideas, drawing up their business plans, tracking down funding and then launching new companies.

Now those once-nascent businesses are blossoming into established enterprises with fast-growing revenues and rapidly expanding payrolls as companies go on hiring bonanzas.

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