Technology Association of Georgia report highlights state's tech industry

Georgia is an emerging leader in the technology industry, but there is room for improvement, according to a recent State of the Industry report from the Technology Association of Georgia.

Tino Mantella, the group’s president and CEO, addressed a group of industry and community leaders at the Middle Georgia Regional Commission building Wednesday. The technology industry has a $113 billion economic impact in Georgia, compared to the $70 billion impact of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

“It’s not about TAG; it’s about promoting the industry and the companies that are in the industry,” he said.

According to the report, there were more than 272,000 technology jobs in Georgia last year. While that shows growth from the 247,000 tech jobs in 2010, thousands of jobs in the industry, particularly in application development, data analysis and information technology management, remain unfilled.

“If we can’t fill those positions here, they’re going to outsource those positions elsewhere,” Mantella said.

The education community can have a role in resolving that issue. Mantella said placing computer programming on par with foreign languages in public schools would help prepare students for tech careers as well as others.

“It doesn’t hurt to have coding and programming skills,” he said.

The report also revealed an Innovation Index reading, which takes into account such factors as population age and bachelor’s degree attainment, for the state and Middle Georgia counties. The state average was a 92.3 compared to a national average of 100, but Middle Georgia counties were below that.

Houston County came in at an 88.1, Peach County scored an 82.7 and Macon-Bibb County notched an 80.8.

The news wasn’t all bad for Middle Georgia, though. Macon was named on a list of 101 Great Locations in the South for Aviation and Aerospace by Southern Business and Development, and Warner Robins was ranked No. 2 in the nation on a Forbes list for the 10 Best Cities for Engineers.

“That’s exciting to have that title,” said Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms.

Toms addressed the crowd and discussed the growing need for IT professionals in all fields. A former firefighter, Toms talked about innovations in safety and management for firefighters both on the way to a fire and once they’re inside.

“There are all kinds of things that keep up with firefighters and protect firefighters,” he said. “I’m just amazed at the technological advancement that’s happened, even in the fire service.”

To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331 or follow him on Twitter@MTJTimm.