Silicon Valley in Iowa: congressman’s fight for tech jobs in rural America

Ro Khanna will not be running for president.

Unlike lots of his colleagues in Congress, the Silicon Valley congressman hasn’t been in Iowa to check the waters to get a White House run. His visit was decidedly more ambitious: to bridge the deepening economic divide between urban and rural America.

On a current Saturday night, Khanna, a progressive Democrat merely recently re-elected inside diverse, deep-blue California district where Apple, Intel and Yahoo have headquarters, joined tech leaders in Jefferson, an Iowa area of 4,200 people. It is found in a predominantly white, rural swath of the state represented by congressman Steve King, a far-right conservative whose questioning of Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, throughout a hearing on Capitol Hill now fueled criticism that Congress doesn’t recognize how technology giants operate.

The gulf forwards and backwards districts is precisely why Khanna stumbled on Jefferson.

“The digital revolution is just one which every community should and may also participate in,” he told viewers of local leaders and out-of-town tech industry executives.

They gathered within the town’s History Boy Theatre to comprehend an initiative that offers bring high-paying tech and software design jobs to Jefferson. Whether it succeeds, imagine this course can be quite a blueprint for revitalizing other rural communities.

Sitting in the front rows were Microsoft’s chief technology officer, Kevin Scott; the LinkedIn co-founder Allen Blue; the Ripple CEO, Brad Garlinghouse; along with other industry players. Behind them were a small grouping of Jefferson high school students who aspired to careers in computer science and software design.

“The innovation can be used,” Khanna said. “What we have to do is ensure that the young men and women have to be able to remain in Jefferson, possess a family in Jefferson and have fun playing the new economy.”

Since arriving in Congress this past year, Khanna has sought to rate himself being an “ambassador” to places that have so far been left out of the brand new knowledge-based economy. And not outsource tech jobs to India and China, he argues that companies should look to rural and small-town America.

“We have got a choice in Silicon Valley,” he said in a interview. “We could persist just as one island to ourselves, devoted to wealth creation and innovation – or you can understand or know that we’re in the middle of a software program revolution and answer the country’s call to give economic opportunity and technology to places created.”

“If we consider the former approach,” he warned, “then as void


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