To what extent can information-technology investments spur economic growth? In a joint letter to Congressional leaders, 116 infotech CEOs and business leaders today said that if Congress spent $40 billion on smart electric-grid upgrades, broadband infrastructure, and health-care IT systems, the result would be 949,000 new U.S. jobs. “Information and communications-enabled technologies improve energy efficiency, help doctors save lives and money in health care, catalyze new business models and entrepreneurs, enable educational improvements and empower individuals to take more control over their lives,” the group wrote. “Those nations with the most advanced digital infrastructure will reap the largest benefits and lead in next generation jobs, services and companies.”
The House has put forward an $825 billion stimulus package; it explicitly includes $11 billion for smart-grid upgrades and research, $20 billion for health-care information technology, and $6 billion for wireless and broadband infrastructure grants. With the package working its way through Congress, the letter went to House speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, and House Republican leader John Boehner. Such investments will “provide our nation with a near-term stimulus and long-term comparative advantage,” the group wrote.