Deal puts focus on technology in N.F.

Announces campaign to give Ga. reputation it deserves as technology center

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. – When Gov. Nathan Deal wanted to announce the launch of a campaign to give Georgia a national reputation as a leader in technology development and technology companies, it was not surprising he came to Alpharetta to do it.

Speaking at McKesson Technology Solutions on Windward Parkway Monday morning, Deal said fostering the growth of technology companies in the state was going to be vital to getting out of the recession.

“Georgia has become the nation’s health IT [Information Technology] capital and a leader in information security, logistics, financial technology and IT communications,” Deal said.

He noted that technology companies in Georgia bring in more than $80 billion in revenue to the state.

“We believe technology is the future of jobs in Georgia,” said Robert Hendricks, senior vice president of McKesson.

Hendricks is also a board member of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG), which has 13,000 members statewide.

Deal was there to announce the state’s support of TAG’s campaign called “Where Georgia Leads,” with the goal to raise awareness about Georgia’s leadership in technology. The state is home to more than 15,000 tech companies employing more than 250,000 workers. In 2010 alone, nearly 400 new software companies came to Georgia.

But few people within the state realize this, and fewer still outside its borders, Deal said.

“Technology is probably the most important ingredient in Georgia’s continued success. It is the new wave for new jobs – and they are high-paying jobs,” he said. “What we have to do is provide the workforce for those jobs, and that means concentrating on education of our young people.”

State Rep. Mike Dudgeon, R-Suwanee, who represents Forsyth County and is a “technology entrepreneur,” echoed those thoughts after the governor’s speech.

“When I go to California, they know Georgia Tech is the No. 3 engineering school in the country. But they don’t know about the breadth and depth of technology companies here in Georgia. And a lot of them are here in North Fulton and South Forsyth,” said Dudgeon.

State Rep. Jan Jones, R-Milton, was there to show her support of Where Georgia Leads. There are 15,000 technology companies in Georgia employing 250,000 people.

“And 40 percent of those employees are Georgia college graduates. So technology companies are a huge factor in our economy and for our continued prosperity,” Jones said.

North Fulton Chamber of Commerce CEO Brandon Beach said many companies are looking at North Fulton to set up shop because of what the area offers.

“We have become known as a tech capital of the Southeast up here in North Fulton, because of companies like McKesson,” Beach said. “A lot of these companies want to cluster with each other. We have the infrastructure for them – such as the fiber optics encased in concrete. That gives secure, safe high-speed data transmission and communication. We’ve raised a million dollars and have the Progress Partners program to aggressively pursue companies to come to the area, especially technology companies, healthcare and logistics.”

TAG President and CEO Tino Mantella said Georgia is the No. 1 center in the nation for health IT. It is a top five leader in other technology clusters that include financial technology, information security, IT communications and logistics.

Each of these clusters of technology means there are companies here providing services in vertical integration with each of those fields, much the way manufacturers of automobile parts service the car industry.

“The governor believes technology is going to lead Georgia out of its recession,” Mantella said. “He sees the need for promoting Georgia as a technological center, starting with inside Georgia first.”

Georgia doesn’t come to mind as a logistics leader in the country, but Georgia has a world-class port such as Savannah (the closest U.S. port to the Panama Canal). Add to that the busiest airport in the world with Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and an interstate system with I-20 going due west, I-75 headed into the Midwest and I-85 leading to the Northeast, it is one of the major U.S. logistics centers.

“And so on down the line in technology fields. Almost every major player is represented here, plus a host of innovative home-grown technological companies,” Mantella said. “These industries are jobs creators. We just have to make technology the mindset when people think of Georgia.”

Which is exactly what the governor was there to preach.

“We are the green pastures that technology companies are looking for,” said Deal.