Appeared in The Birmingham News on April 03, 2016 – updated April 18, 2016.
By Scott McGlaun, Chief Information Officer, BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama
People frequently ask me about ways we can strengthen the local technology community. Birmingham’s technology community is stronger than it has ever been. Innovation Depot, which gives start-ups and entrepreneurs competitive advantage, is almost at capacity. TechBirmingham membership is experiencing explosive growth and seeing record attendance at events.
Access to capital for start-ups is plentiful if you have a solid business plan. Technology executives are working together with TechBridge to bring technology-based efficiencies to non-profit agencies. Birmingham is taking steps to develop local technology talent through Depot/U, a software development boot camp. The city is entering our second year of Venture for America internships and several local companies are working to bring a new workforce development program to the area called Year-Up. So that covers it, right? Well, there is one more thing….Keep IT Local.
“Keep IT Local” makes sense for two reasons. First and foremost, it is a reflection of the business community’s support of technology-based entrepreneurs. “Keeping IT Local” tells existing local entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs considering Birmingham as their start-up location, that the business community wants them to thrive and prosper here. We can play a role in their success by looking first to local companies for business impacting capabilities.
There is an unintended divide between Birmingham’s start-up community and its established corporate community, but now Birmingham’s business leaders are pledging to bridge that gap.
Birmingham has very talented and capable technologists that are driving innovation. Partnerships among entrepreneurs and the business community will accelerate that innovation.
Secondly, we have a huge opportunity to grow tech-based jobs here in Birmingham. When the business community spends locally on technology, we promote local job growth. Large company spending on technology will result in job growth among vendor partners.
The purpose of the Keep IT Local Pledge initiative is to create an easily accessible platform to showcase commitment from local companies to first look within our city and surrounding areas when procuring IT products and services before spending those IT dollars outside the region. Working collaboratively with industry, TechBirmingham and Innovation Depot led the effort to craft a pledge and create a digital presence where companies on both the demand and supply side can show their support by digitally signing the pledge.
Organizations who sign the pledge will be recognized on the www.keepitlocalpledge.com website.
TechBirmingham will maintain the database of companies who sign the pledge and will be able to provide information on the services and products those companies offer.
The list of Founding Partners includes the following organizations and companies: TechBirmingham and Innovation Depot, as well as Alabama Power, BlueCross and BlueShield of Alabama, Regions, 2B Solutions, Isotope 11, BBVA Compass, University of Alabama Birmingham, Alabama Media Group, Airship, ITAC Solutions, Daxko, Platypi, Teklinks, TEKSystems, Viperline, Warren Averett.
Here’s the website for companies to sign the pledge. Let’s grow those jobs in our community, not somewhere else. Will you join me in taking the pledge to Keep IT Local?
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