Tech head: Why embracing technology could lead more companies to embrace N.J.

Aaron Price introduced TechUnited New Jersey during an online town hall meeting Monday morning.

Price announced the organization’s signature event, the Propelify Festival, will be held virtually this fall — as will its annual gala.

This all makes sense, he said. After all, it’s all tech driven.

“I think this community and, especially, our organization adapted very easily and quickly to this reality, because we were prepared for that,” he said. “We’ve been using Zoom and doing webinars for years.

Aaron Price.

“We were early adopters. There’s been a bunch of people in tech saying, ‘I’ve been telling you this could work for years.’ And, now, the bigger companies who may have been more resistant are actually thinking about this.”

This could be good for the state.

Price is clear: The future of work likely will never be all remote. But a work world that is a hybrid — especially one where companies may need bigger areas for fewer people — could push many to places such as New Jersey, which has a high standard of living and the best education system in the country.

“I think there’s an opportunity for the region, for the state in particular, because I think you will see a good volume of people move away from cities, just for anxiety and health reasons,” he said. “If New Jersey can capture some of that, it’d be set up for what we think is the future of work.

“We have a lot of commercial real estate in a spread-out environment. Some of them are have been vacant for years. So, we set up safe workspaces that meet this new need around how companies are evolving and don’t want to jam 300 people who are 2 feet apart in a coworking space.

“I think New Jersey is well positioned to take a lot of that market share.”

Price, who became the head of the New Jersey Tech Council when it merged with the Propelify Festival he founded, said the new organization is eager to take advantage of how an online format can help its signature projects.

Propelify will now be a weeklong event (Oct. 5-9), one with an ability to draw speakers and panelists from around the world.

“We’re actually working with a variety of other entrepreneurial technology groups from around the country to make it more global,” he said. “Usually, I’m very New Jersey, New York heavy because of the practicality of travel. And we’re still going to be heavy in that way, because we want to focus on our region, but we can also include a whole variety of people who now can join by simply clicking the button.”

Price said there are a number of possibilities.

“There’s a lot of creative things we’re going to do to make them more connected and engage audiences,” he said. “Perhaps we’ll have more ways where people will be able to get together remotely in small groups.”

Price said the pandemic has forced new thinking in the work world.

“It has accelerated the whole future of work — the whole ability to be more remote and use technology,” he said. “I think it’s opened people’s eyes and is showing we don’t need to keep the traditional style of work.

“We’re not farming. We don’t need daylight hours. We don’t need to spend all those hours on the roads. We obviously don’t want people being sick, but this has shown us the benefits of being flexible and using technology. Getting extra time with your family I think is pretty great.”

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