Advocates pushing to bolster region’s tech industry

mstucka@macon.comJune 19, 2014 

WARNER ROBINS -- When Billy Cutshaw needed two more employees for his Macon software company, he couldn’t find them. He ultimately turned to an Atlanta recruiter, who offered candidates from Warner Robins and Macon who had gone to Atlanta to find work.

The problem of losing skilled employees from Middle Georgia can stop if everyone works together to make the area a technology hub, said Cutshaw, president of Allied Business Systems and vice chairman of the Middle Georgia branch of the Technology Association of Georgia.

About 30 people attended a panel discussion Thursday at the Mercer Engineering Research Center aimed at building up the region’s technology companies. Cutshaw said a stronger technology sector would reduce the area’s dependency on Robins Air Force Base and bring more high-paying jobs to the area.

Thursday’s discussion was centered on Houston County organizations, but the idea is to work across the region. A similar event is being planned to center on Macon organizations, all of which will help feed into a September event that supports a Middle Georgia Regional Commission initiative to address the area’s technology strengths and weaknesses.

A later event Thursday presented a Technology Association of Georgia report, which found that tech jobs and their wages are growing.

The panelists were asked about Alpharetta, which has about 600 technology companies; another 300 tech firms are nearby in Roswell.

State Rep.-elect Heath Clark, a software engineer, noted that people working in Warner Robins can get to the Atlanta airport faster than people from Alpharetta.

That’s one advantage, but Clark said successful supporting organizations are as varied as Houston County’s public schools, Middle Georgia State College and the Mercer Engineering Research Center.

Christine Conrado of IT Works Recruitment Inc. said some people get upset when they see foreigners taking technology jobs. But there aren’t enough Americans trained to take the jobs in America, a problem that has to be fixed, she said.

“We don’t have the people to fill those jobs,” she said.

People at the event included representatives of colleges, IT departments and economic development offices.

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