Florida ranks among the top four states for high-tech employment, cutting edge technology and innovation, according to the Tallahassee Technology Alliance, and its TechExpo is one way they are making sure that ranking continues.
The TalTech Alliance welcomed businesses, students, and government agencies to its annual TechExpo Friday. Members of that sector were able to network with a goal of creating opportunities for the future of tech in the Capitol City.
“The conference is motivational, energizing,” said George Varn, vice-president of Velocity Online. “It’s just a great place where people that do make a difference in this community come together to work together and look for opportunities going forward.”
This year’s conference featured discussions on how government, businesses, and academic institutions in North Florida can adapt, innovate and thrive in the current wave of technology.
The expo is meant to help businesses stay current in technology trends, and promote the Big Bend as a source of innovation.
Barbara Wescott, CEO and founder of Swellcoin, has used the expo to build and grow her startup business.
“We’re really growing a vibrant startup community,” she said. “This is a way to get everybody together, to see what people are doing, but also learn the expertise from others that are here presenting…. Getting everybody together and paddling in the same direction is really helpful.”
Wescott has focused her efforts on helping women break into the tech field, hosting events like “Women Wednesdays” at Domi Station, Tallahassee’s business incubator. The time allows women to use the space to complete projects and get feedback and help from others.
“This community is doing everything it can to make this a great place for starters, for entrepreneurs, and for women in technology,” Wescott said. “There are shortages of women in the technology field. Wherever there are shortages, there’s opportunity. Embrace the opportunity.”
Recent college graduate Tosin Arowojobe said he attended the expo to gain new networks, and prepare for his career.
“It makes you meet other people in IT, and it’s going to help [me] know what they do, what the businesses are like, and how we can work together or team up together in order to meet our goals or missions.”
And TJ Hunter, director of sales for App Innovators, is excited his company participates in the conference.
“We have a lot of the technology companies in the area [here] giving exposure to what they do and hopefully attracting young talent, and letting other businesses around Tallahassee know there’s startups, there’s technology companies here that are growing and thriving, and showcasing what they do.”
Tallahassee was named a tech hire city under President Barack Obama. The distinction comes with grant money to help cities expand their local tech sectors by building a talent pipeline.
“Tallahassee is a unique community with assets that very few others this size have,” said Varn. “When you look at the [magnet] labs and the super computer labs and the technology needs and innovations in and of government, it’s unique. It has the infrastructure, it has the talent, it’s just a matter of focusing all that and bringing it together to make sure we’re all working in the same direction.”