High-tech execs lobby for Georgia jobs bill

ATLANTA — Senior executives from some of Georgia’s high-tech companies dropped in on lawmakers Thursday to urge support of a package of bills they say will lead to more jobs.

Billed as High Tech Day and sponsored by the Technology Association of Georgia, the visits, luncheon, reception and two panel discussions were aimed at winning passage of tax breaks, an incentive to draw more private capital and even outright investment by the state’s pension fund.

The group won a partial victory in the afternoon when the Senate Retirement Committee voted unanimously in favor of Senate Bill 402 that allows the state’s pension to invest up to 5 percent in young companies. The teachers’ pension isn’t included in the bill.

Often, companies that start in Georgia wind up moving before they grow very large because out-of-state investors demand they be nearby for closer scrutiny, said Bill Marks, spokesman for the association. The goal is to get more Georgia-based capital so the startups can grow in place and hire Georgians, he said.

One measure, the Digital Jobs Act, is due for introduction any day. It would grant tax breaks for companies equipping data centers, the clusters of f computer servicers by the hundreds that large companies require.

While the data centers rarely involve many jobs, they serve as a magnet for companies that do, such as NCR which cited the 50 data centers in Atlanta as one reason it moved its headquarters to Georgia.

“It supports the idea of broadband and fiber industry,” said Tino Mantella, president of the Technology Association.

The group is also pushing for creation of a study committee to draft additional legislation that will benefit the information-technology industry.

Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, told a luncheon at the Capitol for corporate chief-information officers that such lobbying efforts are critical to getting favorable bills passed.

“You have to talk to use. You have to tell us what we need to do to stay competitive,” he said.

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