The event attracted about 100 attendees, including Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis, Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis and District 40 State Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, to the Perimeter Mall-area Ravinia Club.
Members of the alliance and its partner, the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts, saluted the information technology companies and sought answers from them.
Panelists punted the first question, declining to or unable to give a specific dollar value to their companies’ economic impact on the Perimeter area.
Tino Mantella, president of the Midtown-based Technology Association of Georgia, said metro Atlanta IT companies generate at least $10 billion annually.
In response to a question about their effect on the local economy, he said they influence the area’s prosperity through high salaries.
“Technology salaries are double the average salary of $40,000,” Mantella said. “That ramps up the economic impact because of the spending power of those employees.”
Other questions ranged from what the market offers technology companies to what is missing and what they wish they had.
Gerard White, CEO of Dunwoody-based Clearwave Corp., said venture funding is in short supply.
“That’s where we’re going to lose companies if we don’t do something,” he said. “We’ve got to get money for startups.”
David Dabbiere, chief operating officer of Sandy Springs-based AirWatch, said the association is helping.
“TAG is one of the secret weapons Georgia has,” he said. “People want to invest in Georgia technology companies because they hear about how business-friendly it is. Information technology is going to continue to [build] on itself and bring additional IT companies and employees to the area.”
Finding more employees may be a problem, said Mantella.
“We still have a shortage of talent in certain areas — systems administrators and programmers. They’re hard to come by,” he said.
White said the Perimeter area already helps recruitment through its reputation as a live/work/play community.
“We’re recognized as a great place. Once people come here, they rarely leave,” he said.
In turn, those new residents will attract others with similar training, skill sets and lifestyles, said David Spotts, director of facilities for AutoTrader.com.
“If we can keep them in this area, they will draw new people who want to be in this demographic,” he said.