BLUEPRINT York Session Videos

If you missed BLUEPRINT York or any of the sessions, take some time and listen in on these amazing talks.

Blueprint York 2019 brought startup entrepreneurs, thought leaders, government agencies, and local politicians together in York, PA to look at the future of technology and work in the Heartland. Panels, fireside chats, breakout sessions, and informal discussions were punctuated by meal after meal provided by local restaurateurs. 


The event kicked off with a welcome by VentureBeat CEO Matt Marshall and transitioned to a chat between two mayors -- Mike Helfrich of York, and Danene Sorace of nearby Lancaster, PA. The two have been working together on cementing partnerships between their respective cities as a way to strengthen opportunities for both. 

Welcome Reception March 26 with Mayor  Helfrich of York PA and Mayor Danene Sorace of Lancaster, PA

There are plenty of tech success far inland from the East and West coasts. Panelists talked about embracing the talent and unique workforce models they’re employing in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Birmingham (AL), Erie (PA), and St. Louis.

Regions showing promise in expanding their tech workforce - Minneapolis/St. Paul, Birmingham AL, Erie PA, St. Louis MO and York PA

Where the first panel of the day sought to look at the work landscape by viewing smaller organizations working in specific areas, the next panel took a higher-level view from large tech organizations that have an interest in developing tech jobs nationwide. Representatives from Oracle, Uber Freight, and Microsoft brought their respective perspectives to share. 

Regions showing promise in expanding their tech workforce - Minneapolis/St. Paul, Birmingham AL, Erie PA, St. Louis MO and York PA

One of the large themes that emerged at Blueprint was the dire need for connective tissue between communities and the vast resources available nationwide. One of the most clever (and heartwarming) means of bring some of the Silicon Valley expertise to the Heartland is by calling upon those who left the areas they grew up in and have struck it rich, as it were, on the West Coast. Everyone is just a kid from somewhere, as they say; One America Works is a nonprofit organization with a mission to tap those Westward children of the Heartland to become advocates of their home towns and help connect tech companies to the locales in the U.S. where they could expand. 

Putting more cities in the Silicon Valley growth playbook

So many of the panels and discussions at Blueprint York centered around the issue of talent -- finding it, nurturing it, and creating ecosystems in which it can flourish. 

Building talent in young ecosystems

A huge part of developing a new workforce for the tech-heavy future of work involves education and a certain kind of tech literacy at an early age. Education programs that engage kids and eager learners like the Kenzie Academy and the Flatiron School are tackling the issue.

Tech solutions emerging to address workforce needs of 21st century

It’s not surprising in the least that developing ecosystems and opportunities around technological professions is uniquely challenging in small and rural communities. Representatives from two programs -- the Innovation Collective and the Center on Rural Innovation -- discussed how their programs are alike and different. They’re certainly complementary in some ways, and both provide insights into how infrastructure is so crucial to creating job growth in a community.

Unique models for growing innovation ecosystems in small communities

It’s hard enough to get funding for a new business, but entrepreneurs who live (and expect to build) outside the select few areas where most of the venture capital is centralized have an extra hurdle to overcome. These panelists represent investment groups that specifically want to put money into projects across the country, in places as far-flung from San Francisco and New York as Bozeman, Montana. 

Venture perspectives on talent and scaling tech companies in heartland

Peter Haas of Brown University joked that his presentation was a little of “late afternoon doom and gloom.” He spoke about societal issues that come from the rise of job-stealing automation, AI, and robotics -- or at least, the perception thereof. This notion is pervasive in the American psyche. And although it’s true that studied predictions are dire for many blue- and white-collar jobs in the next 20 years, but Haas pointed to the different between jobs that automatable and those that are automated. The latter means one less job for a human; the former can provide heretofore non-existent jobs that can separate a worker from their geography, like remotely controlling robots who perform menial tasks. 

A look into the future of work - the challenges of automation and robotics

Sometimes, exceptional talent is obscured by location and situation. Not every brilliant tech entrepreneur is a graduate of a top computer science program at an Ivy League or MIT. And sometimes, part of the skillset that we need to teach are so-called soft skills (also known as “core skills”) that help people navigate training programs, higher education, interviews, and the workplace.

Accessing untapped talent in unique ways

Often lost in the hustle of startups and the conversations around building tech companies in the Heartland is a lack of diversity. Rodney Sampson of the Opportunity Hub discussed the diversity issue and how organizations like the “Ohub” are creating opportunities and mentorship that haven’t always been available to groups like people of color.

Diversity and inclusion strategies for a stronger workforce across the nation

Amidst a great deal of theoretical and high-level talk about how to make successes happen, it’s instructive to hear about some of the actual successes. Entrepreneurs took turns sharing what they do, how they do it, and what they’ve accomplished, from Simcoach’s job-training games to Bluecrew’s staffing tools. 

How Innovative companies are building talent to grow their companies - entrepreneurs share their stories

Much of the conversation about tech jobs hovers around the high-tech sorts of professions that require tech-focused degrees and experience. But as York, PA shows, mid-level tech jobs in areas like manufacturing are desirable and attainable for a great deal of American workers who can’t or won’t have those skills. Partnerships with organizations that help that segment of the market grown in the Heartland through mentorship, consulting, and training.

Emerging Collaborations to Build America's Workforce in AI and Automation

Organizations like the Brookings Institute play a key role in the blueprint by studying demographics and technology, and how the two intersect. Senior fellow Mark Muro discussed where things stand at the moment, including a clear unease among huge swathes of the country about job insecurity due to advancing technology like automation and AI.

State of the Heartland

Jason Illian, managing director of Koch Disruptive Technologies, the investment arm of Koch Industries, struck a contrarian view to aggregate data that shows capital continues to concentrate in the three centers of Silicon Valley, New York City, and Boson. He said entrepreneurs who do well in those regions are increasingly returning to heartland communities that they once left, and are fostering new companies -- and that the trend hasn't shown up in the venture spending patterns yet. Moreover, he said the merging of several trends -- AI, 5G, and edge computing -- are producing massive opportunities for heartland manufacturing and other industries.

Impact of AI & automation on opportunities in the Heartland

While startups looking for investment usually look to venture capitalists, there are federal programs that have lots of cash to distribute. Some agencies are almost begging to hand over money to talented people with companies that can solve problems facing the nation now and in the future. It’s a different beast than normal venture funding -- including that you don’t need to give over any equity to secure it, and the pressure for fast and high ROI is largely off.

The growing role of government in revitalizing the workforce