Young people, we’re told all the time, are leaving the state. It’s a good story, except for one thing.
By Melissa Pasanen and Bill Anderson
Photographed by Daria Bishop
When David Parker, the 30-year-old vice president of strategy development for Dealer. com, headed out of state in 2000 from his hometown of Williston, he was looking to spread his wings and explore beyond Vermont.“It’s natural,” he says,“to want to experience new places.”
Since middle school, Parker had shown a knack for computers — he was featured in a National Public Radio segment about how kids were surpassing their teachers in technology — and after graduating from Champlain Valley Union High School, he attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. By the fall of 2003, he was at a crossroads: take a high- tech job that was being offered in Hartford, Conn., or return to Vermont where he had the opportunity to help develop a nonprofit focused on building the tech sector in the state. Choosing home, he worked with Vermont HITEC, became an adjunct faculty member for the University of Vermont and several colleges, co-founded the Vermont Software Developers Alliance and, eventually, joined Dealer.com.
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At Dealer.com, Parker is part of a fast-growing business that provides digital marketing systems for the automotive industry, and he works in a setting, with about 750 other employees, that has all the toys and perks of Silicon Valley culture: brightly colored warrens of open cubicles, organic café with espresso, on-site gym, rooftop solarium with putting green and a renovated building that, it almost goes without saying, is a model of green design.
In short, Dealer.com is everybody’s idea of what Vermont needs to stop young people from leaving the state.