Ulster County Executive and the AT&T Tech Valley Civic App Challenge Announce Special Hudson Valley Winner That Focuses on Workforce sms surveys Development

KINGSTON, N.Y. — Residents of the Hudson Valley will now be able to turn to their smartphones for assistance with details on hard to find local events, locating regional nutritional safety net resources, information on local job and mentorship opportunities, assistance with voting data, among other civically minded topics, thanks to the creativity and innovation that emerged from the 2015 AT&T Tech Valley York Civic App Challenge.

The winners of the two-month “virtual hackathon” were announced May 14 by AT&T*, along with community partners including the University at Albany, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, TechConnex (an affiliate for Center for Economic Growth), Tech Valley Center of Gravity, Saratoga TechOUT, Hudson Valley Tech Meetup, New York BizLab, Beahive, Tech Valley Mobile Developers Network, Accelerate 518 and Hack Upstate.

The competition challenged local developers, entrepreneurs, designers, makers, and technologists to build intuitive and novel smartphone apps that address the societal and civic issues in the greater Tech Valley community. The competition aimed to connect and engage citizens with government and demonstrate how mobile technologies can lead to the next generation of tech jobs and investment.

The winners – chosen from more than 120 participants – were announced at a ceremony at the University at Albany, at which developers demonstrated their winning apps. Cash prizes totaled more than $18,000 were awarded.

An app that barely missed out on being awarded an honorable mention, but received very high scores from the esteemed judges, was WORKFORCE, an app developed by a team led by an Ulster County resident that runs a local technology company. Because the app was so close to receiving one of the honorable mentions in the challenge, the host partners and the Ulster County Executive Michael Hein have created another award to recognize the civic app. WORKFORCE, a mobile web app, was created to help address the Tech Valley’s brain drain phenomenon by matching local job seekers and students with employers for a day of career shadowing. The designers, Adam Hocek, David Levesque and Uday Ghattamaneni, created the app because studies show mentoring improves college attendance and graduation drastically and helps students to make better educational decisions potentially saving thousands of dollars and years of additional education. The app also provides benefits to employers by allowing them to connect and vet potential employees saving resources on recruiting, relocating and retaining workers.

The team was awarded special recognition by Ulster County Executive Hein, who played an instrumental role in promoting the challenge throughout Ulster County and the Hudson Valley, Suzanne Holt, director, Office of Economic Development, Kale Kaposhilin, co-founder, Hudson Valley Tech Meetup and Edward Bergstraesser, director of External Affairs, AT&T at a special ceremony at the Ulster County Office Building.

“I am pleased that app developers in Ulster County and the greater Hudson Valley had the opportunity to showcase their talents in the AT&T Tech Valley Civic App Challenge. It is clear that this region’s technology community is on the rise,” said County Executive Hein. “Ulster County is making significant strides to create opportunities for economic growth in the tech sector so that students in Ulster County have meaningful high value jobs right here in the county, so that new local companies have the resources to create innovative software and bring it to the world and so that the businesses of the county can have a local talent pool from which they can hire the increasingly essential tech positions for their companies.”

“The quality of mobile apps created through the AT&T Tech Valley Civic App Challenge demonstrates the vibrancy and talent of the Tech Valley’s technology and entrepreneurial community, and WORKFORCE is no exception,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York president for AT&T. “We applaud Ulster County Executive Michael Hein, Hudson Valley Tech Meetup and the Ulster County Office of Economic Development for collaborating with us on this initiative that demonstrates clear demand for programmers, both amateur and professional, to create mobile apps that help our communities connect, build businesses and streamline our daily lives in the Hudson Valley. We are proud to be able to recognize WORKFORCE with these partners because it is truly an innovative app and has the potential to make a significant change in workforce and economic development in the region.”

“We would like to thank AT&T and County Executive Michael Hein for their recognition of WORKFORCE and recognizing the benefits it can bring to the region,” said Adam Hocek, of team WORKFORCE and CEO of Broadstrokes, a local Ulster County tech company. “We are confident that WORKFORCE can become a cornerstone of economic and community development for the Hudson Valley by bringing awareness to; what industries and companies we should recruit to our area, what courses our high schools and colleges should offer, and what community features and attractions our job seekers are looking for.”

“On behalf of the Hudson Valley Tech Meetup I would like to thank the Ulster County Executive’s Office and Office of Economic Development for supporting the AT&T Tech Valley Civic App Challenge, their efforts helped demonstrate the strength of the tech community in Ulster County and the entire region,” said Kale Kaposhilin, co-founder, Hudson Valley Tech Meetup. “In honoring WORKFORCE we really are providing support to our collective community missions while recognizing that we have the innovative talent right here in the county to create solutions that we all want and need.”

The other winners of the AT&T Tech Valley Civic App Challenge include:
• Grand prize ($10,000): Food Pantry Helper, a mobile web app that assists non-for-profit food pantries manage their operations more efficiently and cost effectively to better service the community’s most vulnerable.

• Second place ($5,000): Electorate is a social voting app that allows the user to see who their friends have endorsed, allowing them to get valuable information to take to the polls from people they know and trust.

• Third place ($2,000): Snapmap is a mobile web app that helps New York state families get the most out of their SNAP benefits by allowing users to quickly locate SNAP accepting stores, write reviews, view store hours, and filter through stores to discover healthy options.

• Honorable mention ($500): Ant Hill, a mobile web app that provides a virtual place to find work or hire local, introducing a new way to connect young job seekers with small businesses on a local level, thus removing geographical barriers for both demographics.

• Honorable mention ($500 each): Eventy, an iPhone app that scans the web to find hyper-local events in the Tech Valley and makes them easily viewable to attract more visitors for events happening at nearby community centers, businesses, museums, and more.

• Honorable mention ($500): Project Hunt, a mobile web app that connects developers, makers, designers, students, teachers and students looking to apply their technology and IP resources with nonprofit organizations, schools, startups businesses, and communities that have civic minded innovative project ideas, but lack the technology or skills to create them.

All the winning apps addressed the challenge to solve local problems, resulting in globally applicable solutions that will provide lasting benefits for the Tech Valley. Challenge organizers were thrilled with the participation and submissions. Winners were chosen by a panel of judges made up of local tech experts, community stakeholders and elected officials, who based their decisions upon the apps’ potential impact on the Tech Valley, the quality of execution and the creativity or novelty of the idea. Judges included:

• Hon. George A. Amedore, Jr., New York State Senator
• Kishor Bagul, former chief Technology Officer, New York State
• Antonio Civitella, president, New York BizLab and CEO, Transfinder
• Jennifer Goodall, Ph.D. director at the College of Computing and Information Women In Technology Program and Informatics Undergraduate Program, University at Albany
• Susan Lundberg, TechConnex committee member and president, Capital Tech Search
• Hon. John T. McDonald III, New York State Assemblyman
• Andrew Nicklin, former director, Open NY
• Bryan O’Malley, Interactive Group Lead, Fingerpaint
• Marissa Shorenstein, AT&T New York president
• Daniel Stone, co-founder, Hudson Valley Tech Meetup and senior creative technologist, Evolving Media Network
• Christine Tate, entrepreneur-in-residence, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and angel investor and Founder of Gunnafly, LLC
• Thomas Tongue, president, Tech Valley Center of Gravity and CEO, Zomega Terahertz Corporation
• Scott Tillitt, founder of BEAHIVE and Antidote Collective and co-founder and Board Chair of Re>Think Local
• Tim Varney, co-founder, Tech Valley Mobile Developers Network and director of Mobile Application Development, Troy Web
• Ken Zalewski, manager of Application Development of the New York State and Troy City Council President Pro Tempore

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