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How a strong HIT value chain ensures success for Georgia businesses

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E. Jane Caraway, Director of Life Sciences and Corporate Solutions, Georgia Department of Economic Development

What was once seen as ‘new’ industries, such as information technology, financial technology and cyber security, are now not only leading economic generators but are experiencing exponential growth with no signs of slowing down. There is little doubt that different states attract specific industries, and Georgia is quickly becoming recognized as the state that supports and enables the dynamic growth of leading, high-profile companies in these fields.

While the world is moving toward globalization, I still believe that the geographical proximity of individuals and organizations helps to lead to diversification and development of new technologies. In this way, there is solid evidence that the location of these high-profile companies in Georgia is resulting in the growth and development of organizations that supply electronic health records and healthcare management. The locations of these businesses, the convergence of their technologies and the development of the new health information technology in Georgia, is not a coincidence. Georgia offers one of the most robust value chains in the country: in Georgia an idea can be born, researched, developed, tried, manufactured, distributed and maintained.

To this point, an information technology business ecosystem has become established and is thriving in Georgia, and for good reason.

Health information technology

With more than 225 HIT companies and approximately 30,000 HIT jobs, Georgia is one of the top HIT states on the 2015 Healthcare Informatics 100. Perhaps one of the most significant benefits for these companies is that metro Atlanta ranks in the top five U.S. markets for total bandwidth and fiber access. In fact, two of the country’s largest fiber routes – North/South and East/West – cross in metro Atlanta, making it a natural hot spot for any company that relies heavily on IT.

Combine that connectivity with the fact that Atlanta is home to the Southeast’s largest concentration of telecommunications companies and a tangible result begins to emerge, as HIT companies are afforded the ability to analyze patient data quickly and efficiently.

The state’s academic resources also run deep. The University System of Georgia offers eight different HIT-specific programs, certificates and degrees that produce 3,300 undergraduate and graduate degrees annually across healthcare, including HIT, biotechnology and life sciences.

FinTech

In a related arena, Georgia has earned the nickname “Transaction Alley,” with 70 percent of U.S. financial transactions passing through Georgia-based systems. The FinTech industry in Georgia boasts annual revenues of more than $72 billion, placing the state third in the nation, in a state where the cost of doing business is much lower than its competitors. Approximately 100 FinTech companies are headquartered or have significant presence in Georgia with six of the 10 largest U.S. payment-processing firms based in the state of Georgia.

Cyber security

Rounding out the convergence triangle, Georgia’s cyber security industry leads the nation, with more than $4.7 billion in revenue generated from the 115 companies in the space. This comprises more than 25 percent of the worldwide security revenue market share. Because Georgia has been a national leader in the financial tech and healthcare tech industries for years now, it makes sense that Georgia is enjoying boom in the information security industry (infosec).

Georgia is also home to two organizations working around the clock conducting signals intelligence operations and detecting emerging cyber security threats. The National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) opened the $286 million Georgia Cryptologic Center in 2012. Not to be outdone, the U.S. Army just opened its new Cyber Command (ARCYBER) Headquarters at Fort Gordon in Augusta, which will bring 1,400 cyber security experts to the state of Georgia and will mark the first time that all Army cyber and network operations under one commander.
The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of just 14 universities nationwide designated as a University Affiliated Research Center for the Department of Defense. In addition, four University System of Georgia institutions have NSA certified programs with more on the way to keep up with, including Augusta University who is developing cybersecurity bachelor’s and associates degrees.

The Georgia value chain

The Georgia value chain is designed to enhance the best practices of companies in both the physical and cyber worlds. It is an organized and effective system that enables companies to deliver products and services to the market in an efficient and economically sound way, but it isn’t just limited to these specific industries. Georgia has many more business-friendly attributes that make it a one-stop shop for any business that is looking to enter into such an environment.

  • Low risk of business disruption due to natural disasters, so the power and internet will always stay on for companies in technology dependent industries.
  • Having the world’s most traveled and efficient airport that serves 150 U.S. destinations and more than 70 international destinations, is important for companies who are trying to get their customers in and out as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  • Georgia Quick Start, ranked number one in the United States for workforce training, is a partner available to businesses in the state that want to develop strategic workforce solutions.

Such benefits only enhance the effectiveness of Georgia’s value chain. Doing business in Georgia in sectors like HIT, FinTech or cyber security is important to the state and it has become our Governor’s and Commissioner’s priority to promote a healthy, successful business environment. Considering Georgia was ranked by Site Selection magazine as the state with the Top Business Climate in the United States for the third consecutive year in 2015, I’m proud of what our dedicated team at Georgia Department of Economic Development is doing.

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