How do we ‘techafy’ Hall County?

Last question, first… Should we work to expand technology understanding, application and employment in Hall County?

The 2000 data is in! According to the recently released Cyberstates survey published jointly by AEA (formerly the American Electronics Association) and Nasdaq, the average private sector wage in Georgia was $32,703 annually. Georgia’s average high-tech wage for 2000 was $61,528, which is a whopping 88.1% higher than our average private sector wage.

While we all can agree that Hall County would benefit from the high wages of high-tech jobs, the remaining question is, How do we attract high-tech companies to Hall County?

We need to “techafy.” Techafy tek-a-fi To foster the integration of technology throughout the fiber of our community for the benefit of all citizens. (From Bilbrough’s First Northeast Georgia Dictionary, as edited by Chamber CEO Kit Dunlap.)

Simply put, we must make Hall County a place that attracts high-tech employers. High tech employers flock to areas that are already techafied. They are NOT looking to land in a location where they have to swim upstream. High-tech employers look for a locale that offers the following:

• Wired – availability of multiple broadband data providers, broadband wireless works too!

• Smart – they demand high-performing public and private schools for their children.

• Talented – excellent technical colleges and secondary schools that produce a steady flow of new employees with skills that meet immediate needs.

• User Friendly – short commutes, close proximity to commercial air service, excellent recreational opportunities, access to the arts.

• Technology compatible – schools and government that USE technology to educate and serve citizens who are truly “plugged in.”

• Competitive – high-tech employers realize the benefits they bring to a community, and they expect host communities to welcome them with certain subsidies such as Freeport and other tax incentives.

Make no mistake, Hall County WILL continue to grow. We’re next on the list for the explosive growth experienced first in neighboring Gwinnett County and now by our neighbor to the west, Forsyth County. There is nothing we can do stop it.

While our governments will work to legislate “smart growth,” it is incumbent upon us all to attract the kinds of employers – and employees – that we will want to call our neighbors. The employers that we recruit and win will largely determine the well-being and character of Hall County’s future.

The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce Technology Committee is working diligently and continuously to “techafy” our community. We invite you to help us answer the question, How?

Bob Bilbrough is Chairman of the Technology Committee of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. As founder and CEO of Qualcon in Flowery Branch, Bilbrough is a winner of the inaugural Georgia Technology Leadership Award presented by Governor Roy Barnes.

He is a member of the High Tech CEO Council and Atlanta’s exclusive Technology Executives Roundtable. Qualcon received the prestigious Pacesetter Award in 2000 and 2001 as “one of Atlanta’s fastest growing private businesses.”