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Tallahassee TechExpo: Building A Tech Marketplace In The Capital Region

Ahmad Hashim

It’s no secret technology is becoming a bigger part of our lives.  The TalTech Alliance wants to make sure it’s also a bigger part of the local community. 

This was the impetus for the Tallahassee TechExpo.  The TalTech Alliance, a local organization promoting technology entrepreneurship, has been hosting this event for seven years with the goal of providing a chance for businesses and individuals to network and develop new projects in the area.  

About 50 people in name tags mill around booths stocked with excited reps and company logo swag.  For the most part, attendees are professional men and women in their late twenties and thirties, but not everyone.  A group of four students from Chiles High School are also working their way through the crowd.

Sophomore Alexi Saliba says the conference is a good way for them to expand on the work they’re doing in school.

“We’re just getting a feel for design and technology,” Saliba says. “What’s coming out soon, and all that good stuff.  We’re in Com-Tech where we learn Photoshop and Illustrator, and we all have preferences in doing a career in design.”

Pete Knowlton is Chief Problem Solver for a company called Ghostery.  They run a browser extension that allows users to see and block companies that track their internet usage.  Knowlton says the event helps his company gain exposure.

“To be able to come here to a tech conference, I mean this is our target audience – people that use the Internet, and that are concerned about the type of data that is actually shared,” Knowlton says. “Every city and every town is our market.”

CareerSource Capital Region’s Kara Palmer says the Tallahassee TechExpo helps her better understand the business climate.

“If you can have an understanding of the world of technology,” Palmer says, “it helps me when I’m looking to assist the businesses within this particular sector, as well as the jobseekers within this sector.”

The TalTech Alliance sees the expo as a way to help make Tallahassee an attractive landing spot for tech businesses and workers.  Shelby Howard of Massive Corporation says local graduates are finding ways to transition from Tallahassee schools to Tallahassee businesses.

“That’s one of the pushes that we’re going for.  I mean, I did.  I graduated last May, so I’ve been in Tallahassee since then” Howard says.  “And I do see a change with that, too, a lot of people are staying and transitioning into young professionalism out of college here.”

Florida’s unemployment rate returned to pre-recession levels last December, and TechExpo attendees are hoping their industry can push it even lower.

Nick Evans came to Tallahassee to pursue a masters in communications at Florida State University. He graduated in 2014, but not before picking up an internship at WFSU. While he worked on his degree Nick moved from intern, to part-timer, to full-time reporter. Before moving to Tallahassee, Nick lived in and around the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years. He listens to far too many podcasts and is a die-hard 49ers football fan. When Nick’s not at work he likes to cook, play music and read.