Georgia is a bit like a sleeping giant when it comes to technology. For outsiders, Georgia is perhaps more well-known for its agricultural prowess and sultry southern heroines. But, for those in the know, it is as bustling a technology community as the Silicon Valley or Research Triangle.
Georgia is home to more than 13,000 technology companies ranging from the large like NCR (which recently relocated to the state from Ohio) to start-ups, like ShapeStart (a company developing in-the-ear 3-D scanning technology). In fact, according to a recent study from the Kaufman Foundation, Georgia is tied for the number one spot in terms of entrepreneurial activity. More than 500 companies set-up shop in the state each month—many of which have roots in technology.
So it perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise that technology is playing a big role in Georgia’s economy. Results from the 2011 State of the Industry: Technology in Georgia Report published by the Technology Association of Georgia show technology is poised to drive the state’s economic recovery. Currently more than 250,000 technologists work in the state and that number is expected to continue to rise according to the report; more than 70 per cent of technology decision-makers polled as part of TAG’s 2010 Technology Decision-Maker’s Survey said they have plans of increasing their workforce in the next 12 months.
Plans for investment from technology companies also support this important point. By the end of 2010 Georgia technology companies had announced plans to invest more than one billion dollars, which is expected to translate to more than 5,000 new jobs in the next few years.
“Even during the recession, Georgia saw growth in technology, especially among the state’s top industry clusters,” said Tino Mantella, president and CEO for TAG. “According to our research, Georgia comes in top in the nation for health care IT, information security, financial technology, IT communication, logistics and software. And we have a number of emerging industries, including SmartGrid and digital entertainment.”
Even in the face of the current countrywide economic downturn, Georgia has surpassed the national average in terms of technological growth in a number of industries. Although software and IT services led in establishment growth in nominal terms, the Internet and multimedia sector led in percentage growth with a 9.3 per cent increase in establishments (easily ahead of the national average of 2.8 per cent). Georgia’s establishment growth also outpaced the national average in telecommunications. Overall, the nation lost telecommunications establishments at a rate of 3.4 per cent, while Georgia added 0.9 per cent to this industry segment.
According to Mantella, the state has a lot of growth potential and it will take collaboration from numerous parties, including lawmakers, industry organisations and even Georgia residents, to push Georgia over the top for technology. But the state is moving in the right direction by considering new tax breaks and incentives designed to encourage business and contemplating the establishment of a commission to conduct extensive interviews with technology stakeholders to gather data that will ultimately lead to the creation of a strategic plan for science and technology.
TAG’s State of the Industry: Technology in Georgia was released at the 2011 Georgia Technology Summit. For more information and to review the findings, visit http://www.tagstateoftheindustry.com.