This year was hard. But with adversity comes the opportunity to adapt and grow in unexpected and sometimes accelerated ways. And TAG has done just that. This past year started out like any other with days spent at the capitol discussing policy and bills, and with many of us gathering at TAG’s annual Georgia Technology Summit. Then the world changed and forced us to communicate in different ways, speed up our plans for digital transformation, and be flexible to get the work done.
The technology ecosystem in Georgia had wins at the Capitol in 2020. We saw the passage of the long awaited Hate Crime Bill, the passage of The Georgia Broadband Opportunity Act, and for the 1st time, the TAG Education Collaborative (TAG-Ed) received funding to partner with TCSG and the Georgia Cyber Center for two programs that will have a large impact on the workforce and economic development of Georgia. Read TAG VP of Government Relations’ update below for more details on these successes and impactful programs. In 2021, TAG’s Government Relations Task Force’s efforts look to focus on access to capital for entrepreneurs and workforce development efforts.
As a community, we continued to support the development of future STEM leaders. In September, we stayed socially distant at our annual TAGit golf tournament and raised over $10,000 for TAG-Ed. Thanks to this support and other efforts, TAG-Ed was able to grant over $7,000 in scholarships to high school seniors focused on pursuing STEM education through the Kent Antley Scholarship program.
The TAG team moved at lightning-speed this spring. Having just executed the Georgia Technology Summit and moving our offices the first week of March, we, along with most of the country, made the decision to work from home and suspend all in-person events. But TAG events continued and less than 10 days after suspending in-person events, TAG shared our first virtual event with members. I would like to thank Scott Williford at vLink Solutions and Mike Neumeier at Arketi Group for their support in making the transition to virtual a rapid reality and a recurring success.
As the year has progressed and we have settled into a life of face masks and video conferencing, we have also learned that we can go further than we ever imagined online creating over 140 events. TAG even went international with our virtual five-day Fintech South conference, reinforcing just how vital the Georgia technology ecosystem is globally. In 2021, TAG will continue to innovate and evolve to better serve our members and community.
It is our members who make us strong and I thank each and everyone of you.
We look forward to seeing you virtually in the next few months and are optimistic that we will be all be able to meet in-person come summer.
Larry K. Williams
President & CEO, Technology Association of Georgia (TAG)
Government Relations Update
The technology ecosystem in Georgia had major wins at the Capitol in 2020. We saw the passage of the long awaited Hate Crime Bill, which gives the court permission to apply an enhanced penalty if the court determines beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim, group of victims, or any property is the object of the offense because of the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability, or physical disability.
The passage of The Georgia Broadband Opportunity Act will encourage further private investments from our broadband providers to build out their networks in rural, unserved areas by giving the Georgia Public Service Commission the authority to ensure we have fair and reasonable statewide rates, terms, and conditions applying to critical broadband infrastructure needs like aerial broadband attachments. Learn more and check out deployment maps at https://broadband.georgia.gov/.
While the budget saw a $2.2B cut, for the 1st time, TAG-Ed received funding to partner with TCSG and the Georgia Cyber Center for two programs that will have a large impact on the workforce and economic development of Georgia. The two programs include:
Rural Technical Worker Pilot
Conceived by Representative Todd Jones, the Rural Technical Worker Program, could fundamentally change the trajectory of rural Georgia. Today, the rural economy is driven by three sectors – agriculture, public safety (e.g. law enforcement, prisons) and education. A technology option would change the landscape in a fundamental manner – adds a growing, viable fourth sector, instantly raises economic prospects and provides a boundless career path. The technology industry, our members, hold the key to shifting the prospects of over 100 Georgia counties.
This program would recruit employers/our members to commit to hiring individuals trained through the Hope Grant at rural technical colleges and allow those individuals to work remotely. The idea is to push the workforce to the rural areas using technology to work from home. Given COVID, now more than at any other time, this could be a fruitful project.
The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, or CMMC, is the next stage in the Department of Defense’s (DoD) efforts to properly secure the Defense Industrial Base (DIB). In the simplest of terms, the DoD announced in mid-2019 that it is creating a cybersecurity assessment model and certification program.
CMMC forces the requirement before award, or ‘pre-award’ for federal grants. Contractors will be evaluated based upon the implementation of actual technical controls in addition to their documentation and policies. These evaluations will lead to a level certification of 1 to 5, 5 being the most secure. The higher your company certifies, the more contracts you will be eligible to bid on. You will not be awarded a grant, nor will your clients, if you have not been certified. TAG has created a task force to market the demand of certification by the federal government as well as pull together the certifiers to make sure our supply chain in Georgia remains solvent. You can find helpful panel discussions and tutorials to prepare your company for CMMC, HERE.
In 2021, TAG’s Government Relations Task Force’s efforts look to focus on access to capital for entrepreneurs and workforce development efforts.
VP Government Relations, TAG
Executive Director, TAG-Ed