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Tech Interests Go on Hiring Spree in D.C

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Educational software firm Blackboard is also ramping up its efforts. While the company has been headquartered in Washington, D.C., for more than a decade, it has just recently waded into in-house government affairs, hiring Republican Erin Tario, formerly of the National Association of Home Builders, as a manager of government relations.

“I think it’s fair to say, we are getting more proactive in terms of a federal agenda,” said Michael Stanton, senior vice president of corporate affairs and treasury at Blackboard. “Erin is just the first step in terms of a long-term process as we build out a team.”

Intel also recently expanded its footprint under the direction of Peter Cleveland, who joined the chip maker last October. This fall, Intel brought on Republican Ryan Triplette, who had previously been chief intellectual property counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee for Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), and Democrat Peter Muller, who had most recently been with Genentech Inc. as directors of government relations.

While much of the job market around the country has struggled, the tech industry appears to be rebounding faster than others.

“Our companies are a bellwether of where the economy is going,” said Dean Garfield, head of the Information Technology Industry Council. “The tech sector seems to be leading the way out of the great recession.”

There are also several remaining job openings in the tech world. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is looking to fill a newly created vice president of government affairs position. There are also senior-level positions at Oracle, to replace Robert Hoffman who departed for Cognizant, and Cisco Systems Inc., to replace Laura Ipsen, who is leaving her position as head of global government relations to help run the company’s smart grid division.

It’s not just companies that are expanding.

ITI is among those hiring. The trade group has two openings, one focusing on energy efficiency and one for a Democratic lobbyist with leadership ties, and the group may fill a third position with a cybersecurity specialty. TechAmerica is also still looking to fill a vice president of state government affairs position that was vacated earlier this year.

Compete America, the tech community’s coalition for highly skilled immigration reform, is also moving from a near-dormant status in 2008 to a much more robust operation.

“With renewed interest in laying the groundwork for comprehensive immigration reform, Compete America has decided to formalize its structure, to hire an executive director who can lead the coalition and really be in charge of our day-to-day lobbying activities,” said Alice Tornquist of Qualcomm, which is a member of the group.

The coalition recently sent out a request for proposal for an executive director.

“Opponents of highly skilled immigration and immigration reform generally will continue to engage the Hill, media, and blogosphere on a day-to-day basis and our advocacy needs [to] be able to meet and successfully respond to that challenge,” the RFP states. “Our advocacy will involve pressing the case for access to talent, while also defending against provisions that could unduly burden the recruitment process.”

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