In Cleveland, the arrival of spring signals the return of baseball (go Tribe!), the end of the snowy season and the annual Northeast Ohio Software Association (NEOSA) Tech Week. Taking place this year between April 15-21, this gathering has become one of Northeast Ohio’s more popular tech-centric events—and a chance to “to support, engage, connect and help grow the regional tech industry,” says Brad Nellis, NEOSA’s director.
“We celebrate accomplished tech leaders and innovative companies along with their products and services,” he says. “We also strive to connect disparate members of the community, from IT executives to entrepreneurs to educators and students.”
Accordingly, Tech Week’s offerings speak to diverse audiences. Startups can attend a panel discussion aimed at helping entrepreneurs refine their investor pitches or learn from successful CEOs during a talk focusing on growing a success tech business in Northeast Ohio. Job-seekers have their choice of speed networking, a virtual job fair and a tech career and networking event featuring regional companies looking for new talent. And area colleges such as Kent State University and Cleveland State University are hosting events to make students and alums aware of regional tech opportunities.
“Creating awareness of what a dynamic, important industry tech is to Northeast Ohio is crucial to helping this region grow and thrive,” Nellis says. “We need to develop more home-grown tech talent, but we also need to attract new talent from other parts of the country.” (Thankfully, that’s becoming easier from a compensation standpoint: The 2013-2012 Dice Salary Survey reported the average salary for Cleveland’s tech professionals rose 11 percent from the previous one, to $75,773.)
Now in its third year, NEOSA Tech Week itself also continues to grow. The first Tech Week in 2011 attracted 500 participants, while this year Nellis estimates it’ll draw at least double that. In response, it’s expanded its community outreach with a regional IT education summit and an International Space Apps Challenge, where volunteer developers spend two days tackling NASA software needs. An IT Training Conference is also on tap.
In other words, Tech Week has evolved into something that offers a comprehensive look at Greater Cleveland’s competitive advantages, Nellis says. “[It’s] a great place to start or grow an IT career, but it’s also a great place to start, expand or grow a tech business.”