Augusta is second only to Atlanta in leading the state in technology business growth.
That was one of the takeaway messages Tuesday during the Technology Association of Georgia’s state of the industry presentation, held within the organization’s Greater Augusta downtown headquarters at theClubhou.se, the city’s hub for innovators and tech entrepreneurs.
TAG President and CEO Tino Mantella spoke of the bright spots seen last year by the state’s 20,000 tech-driven companies, but also of the challenges moving forward with more than 211,000 jobs expected to open within the industry by 2018. There are 3,500 such jobs in Georgia that need to be filled, he said.
“We’re going to need more people in this industry,” Mantella said. “The universities and schools are going to really have to be on their toes to stay up with what the companies are going to need.”
Between 2010 and 2020, the Georgia Department of Labor predicts the number of jobs in science, technology, engineering and math-related fields will increase by more than 22,000 positions from the previous decade.
With a foothold in the medical community and future U.S. Army Cyber Command expansion at Fort Gordon, Augusta is expected to play a leading role in the state’s health IT and information security industries, Mantella said.
The latter – the relocation of the Cyber Command – will bring hundreds of military, government civilian and contract jobs to the area, but hundreds more positions could be created to provide products and services for the new operation, he said.
“This is just the first step for Augusta,” Mantella said. “What’s going to happen is with the Cyber Command being here, there’s going to be a lot of business(es) that want to surround that. You’re going to have 2,000 or 3,000 more jobs here and the bulk of them are in science, engineering, technology and math.”
Mantella also said high-tech jobs are the highest paying in the state, earning employees an average annual salary of $83,000.
Over the past three years, Mantella said the number of these jobs jumped statewide to 267,000, or 8 percent, in 2013. Augusta ranked second in the nation in high-tech job growth from 2006 to 2011, according to a study by San Francisco-based research and advocacy group Engine Advocacy.
“In addition to being the highest paying, it’s also the No. 1 growth engine in terms of jobs,” Mantella said. “Because there’s a supply and demand issue where there are more jobs out there than there is supply, it’s going to continue to drive that number up.”
As part of the report, more than 300 business executives were polled in Georgia and nearly 83 percent said that their technology workforce will increase over the next five years, which Mantella said further underscored a need to cultivate talent.
“Talent and capital are two of the keys,” he said. “How do we build the ecosystem here where everybody is working together and it’s not fragmented?”
TAG’s Greater Augusta chapter was created in 2012 and serves more than 17 companies and organizations that include the Augusta Economic Development Authority, Georgia Regents University, Zapata Technology, Rural Sourcing Inc., and EDTS, a local IT solutions and technology consulting firm.
The state of the industry report is conducted annually by TAG to highlight achievements, opportunities and challenges faced by the state’s technology community. The report’s data is gathered through research and results from the TAG Technology Decision Maker’s Survey, which consisted of participation from more than 300 state tech leaders.