Exec says giant Microsoft is actually a local company

DANVERS ? Microsoft Corp., the computer giant, is actually a conglomeration of local companies, said Brian Neirby, the firm’s area general manager and keynote speaker at Tuesday’s North Shore Business Expo.To hear Neirby tell it, the company has plenty of local presence, including 500 employees statewide, of which about 200 work in Beverly.Neirby, a Scituate resident who joined Microsoft in 1998, said most people on the East Coast think of the company as a remote business 3,000 away in Redmond, Wash., but nothing could be further from the truth.”We’re really a local company,” he said, a comment that elicited chuckles from several tables during the luncheon speech at the Sheraton Ferncroft.Whether or not Microsoft is truly a local business doesn’t change the fact that Fidelity Investments, Bose, and Raytheon rank among its top corporate clients. Microsoft has facilities in Waltham and in Portsmouth, N.H. It collaborates with researchers at MIT in Cambridge.According to Neirby, over the past three years in Massachusetts, Microsoft has doled out $650,000 cash and over $3 million in software as part of its charitable giving, often to programs that benefit inner-city youth.In 2007, consumers will spend more than $13 billion on information technology (IT) expenses, more than $4 billion on hardware, and $3.5 billion on packaged software, he said, noting that about 320,000 people are employed in the IT field in Massachusetts. Another 210,000 are focused on software development.Those statistics illustrate just how big an impact the demand for IT is having in Massachusetts, he said, adding that the field is expected to grow statewide by 4 percent in 2007.Neirby mostly focused on the company’s new Vista operating system, before turning the presentation to Microsoft colleague Tara Hadley who demonstrated the new software.By the end of 2007, Vista will be installed in 90 million computers worldwide, and more than one million of those will be in Massachusetts, he said. More than 6,500 IT companies in the state will produce, sell or distribute products or services running on Vista, and those companies will collectively employ 20,000 workers.”The Vista launch is the biggest release in a decade,” Neirby said.U.S. Rep. John F. Tierney, a Salem Democrat and longtime proponent of workforce training and development, also addressed the Expo breakfast audience.A ranking member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Tierney challenged North Shore business leaders to form partnerships with public schools and colleges, and to provide children with “a window to what their future can be.”America is facing a major crisis in global competitiveness, with insufficient funding for job training and college costs that have become prohibitive for too many ambitious and qualified students, the congressman said.Tierney also asked businesses to give students internship opportunities, and to work with school districts to ensure classroom instruction focuses on the real skills students will need to succeed in the workplace.Students become motivated when the business community gets involved, he said, noting that seven Lynn students who interned in high school at Verizon, not only graduated but all went on to either two-year or four-year colleges.The congressman also referenced last year’s nationally recognized robot team from Lynn Tech.

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