Gov. Nathan Deal made a stop in North Fulton Monday evening, telling the assembled technology executives, local and state elected officials how important technology firms are to the state.
He thanked the General Assembly for putting the largest amount of money into the state budget as closing costs to get new business into the state. He also said the state's colleges and universities are examining what is needed, as parents expect their children to be able to get a job when they earn a degree.
Deal said during his speech to the newly formed Alpharetta Technology Commission, "We want you to be able to bring the businesses that you are looking for into your community. You are ideally suited: Access to interstates, fairly reasonable access to the airport if we can get 400 moving ... And by the way that toll is coming down, I don't care what anybody says."
"But it takes a lot of different ingredients to make you a good place for business to come," the Governor said.
More than 900 technology companies have offices, regional or corporate headquarters in Alpharetta. The city has a large percentage of the state's technology jobs.
On Monday night the city and the companies that are taking part in the the Alpharetta Technology Commission came together at the to celebrate its launch in a dinner at the Metropolitan Club. Gov. Nathan Deal added his own remarks on the importance of technology companies to the state.
Mayor David Belle Isle publicly announced his plan to create the commission in February. Since then he had been working with city staff and City Council to convince leaders at local technology firms of all sizes to join the organization so that Alpharetta can keep pace with the times and grow. The 19-member Alpharetta Technology Commission – which includes legacy, emerging and strategic partners – has been the result.
Belle Isle said the city could get bogged down in saying it wanted all business, or it could seek the technology business but not make plans to meet its needs.
"As we unveil this branding of Alpharetta as the Technology City of the South, as we move along with this Technology Commission, we've got some big things to be working for. We've got some of the brightest people, some of the best technology companies in the world," he said.
Branding is the first goal, and the Mayor said Alpharetta needs to be sure where and how it does that branding. Alpharetta City Council budgeted $100,00 toward economic development, Belle Isle said.
Technology changes, he said. "There's nothing I think more brutal sometimes than technology. Because just as someone figures a better way, someone figures out how to skip three steps. And if we're not careful, if we're not engaging our technology group, we won't be able to lead in technology," Belle Isle said.
He also said Alpharetta has the chance to be the place for startup technologies companies with the help of these technology partners. The city may find a way to offer short-term leases, which is important because many of these startup firms will go boom or bust in a few short months. Or the city and the Technology Commission may find a way to attract angel investors, or other ways to help these pioneers, he said.