Georgia’s Leadership in a Pandemic World

Staff Report

Tuesday, March 9th, 2021

The State of Georgia is technology leader with a profile that is quickly rising. Not only have Microsoft and Airbnb recently announced that they would create large tech hubs in Atlanta, but four Georgia-based startups reached “unicorn” status in the last year. Georgia’s diversity and innovative spirit, supported by private investment and government collaboration, is on the rise. 

On Wednesday, February 24th, Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson was one of two government officials joining a global discussion titled, “How to deal with a K-shaped recovery.” This panel was part of the “Building tech ecosystems in a distributed world” event hosted by Dealroom and Sifted, which brought together an international mix of governments, startups, and tech leaders for a broad conversation around their roles in supporting today’s tech-focused society. Along with Commissioner Wilson, an official from the European Commission offered perspectives on the ways that they have worked to find inclusive solutions in this ever-evolving pandemic economy.

“Success shared by all”
Commissioner Wilson led with noting the importance of government to provide support to businesses, regardless of the industry or location, as communities emerge from the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a large and diverse state, Georgia is working to make sure we are inclusive in this support.

For example, as part of Microsoft’s recent announcement that they had selected metro Atlanta as home to their new Atlanta tech hub, the company also announced they would take on a leadership role in helping to support the community beyond providing jobs alone. In addition to creating more than 2,500 positions across the region, including data centers in neighboring communities, Microsoft will also be investing in affordable housing, community programs, and local schools, colleges, and universities. Maintaining a willing and forward-thinking partnership with a company like Microsoft will be instrumental in helping address needs together with the government as they work to bring everyone along.

“Never let a crisis go to waste”
Of course, the pandemic has brought countless challenges with it, yet it has also been an opportunity for Georgia to address issues that have arisen, such as the inequities around broadband access. Gaps have been highlighted, and governments are stepping up along with partnership with private companies to tackle these problems. Broadband is essential for educating youth, providing telehealth, accessing jobs, and connecting with each other in the 21st century, and COVID-19 has increased the importance of internet connectivity. The State has launched the Georgia Broadband Deployment Initiative to coordinate and establish broadband programs to increase economic, education, and social opportunities for Georgia citizens and businesses. Already, results are occurring.

At the beginning of 2020, the State of Georgia also unveiled the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation to lead coordinated, statewide efforts to position Georgia as the Technology Capital of the East Coast. This public-private partnership will work to award grants of up to $250,000 to businesses, entrepreneurs, and entities that are working to pave a way for a tech-forward future in Georgia. 

This pandemic has forced us to change our habits and make tech a daily part of our lives like never before. Through these unique initiatives, public-private partnerships, and with the support of companies, the State of Georgia is committed to addressing the changing workforce needs as organizations and individuals pivot to meet the demands of the future.