Tech Under Trump: Companies need to speak up, SXSW panelist says

Vehicle manufacturing file photo
Vehicle manufacturing file photo

AUSTIN (KXAN) – President Trump hit the halfway mark of his first 100 days in office this week. On the heels of that comes a South by Southwest showcase highlighting how his policies will affect the technology industry.

That two-day discussion starts on Wednesday. And, experts say Austin’s thriving tech community should pay attention to the discussion.

Last year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor discovered that Austin has more jobs in the tech industry than the national average at nearly 60 thousand.

Experts say if there is any time and place to talk about how the new president’s policies will affect the tech industry it’s at the festival’s Interactive session.

With only 53 days in office it is still not clear how the new administration will hinder or help the tech industry, said SXSW Panelist Jake Colvin, who is the executive director of the Global Innovation Forum, a non-profit tech group.

He said it is because the Trump White House has not rolled out any clear plans yet.

However, some of the president’s other initiatives could make a big impact. For instance, Trump’s aggressive trade tactics, his push to revamp the tax code and his recent executive order restricting travel for immigrants and some highly-educated work-visa holders — many of whom get jobs in science, technology, engineering and math.

Colvin said since the jury is still out on how these policies will support or strain the tech community – especially in Austin – local businesses need to get more involved in public policy.

“There’s the potential in Washington at least that could affect a startup for better or worse,” Colvin said. “And, so it would be beneficial for the Austin startup community to put their shoulder into advocating for their interests.”

In 2016, the number of tech jobs in Texas totaled nearly 600,000. That’s second in the nation, only behind California.

 

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