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Tech gap needs to be filled: expert

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Tech expert Bryan Huddleston spoke recently to the Mt. Juliet Chamber luncheon. LAURIE EVERETT / The Wilson Post

Because Mt. Juliet is a donut community of greater Nashville, it's a microcosm of the burgeoning technology boom.

The Mt. Juliet Chamber's monthly luncheon featured Bryan Huddleston at their monthly luncheon Wednesday. Huddleston is the president and CEO of Nashville Technology Council.

Many in the crowded room probably came away wondering why in the world they didn't major in the tech field and most likely revamped the career paths of their children.

Huddleston gave an enlightening presentation about how this is "no ordinary time," and how our world is growing leaps and bounds "techie"-wise.

"Nashville is this state's second fastest growing in the technology realm," he said.

Huddleston said the Nashville area, including Mt. Juliet, has five great assets; education, infrastructure, IT departments, tech companies and most importantly, creative people.

"It's just a great place to get a great education," he said. "I'll mention Tennessee Tech, and there are so many more great colleges."

High-speed bandwidth has amped with AT&T, TDS and Google Fiber in place. There are 40 "data centers" in middle Tennessee, and a $1.3 billion center is in the heart of the area.

Huddleston said because of Nashville's massive health care facilities, high tech demands are met every second.

Mt. Juliet and other donut communities contribute to 35 "user groups" that contribute about 1,000 people a month, who get together simply to "learn" new technology, according to Huddleston.

When the crowd was asked if they have trouble finding skilled tech employees, about half raised their hands. Huddleston told them last year there were 822 tech graduates Nashville, but 1,548 positions to fill. Some local companies with tech positions include UBS, HCA and Deloitte. HCA currently has 200 tech positions unfilled.

"There's definitely a tech talent gap," Huddleston said.

How to help?

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has initiated the now familiar Drive to 55 campaign where he's challenged our state to get 55 percent of Tennesseans equipped with a college degree or certificate by the year 2025.

"Today, Tennessee is at 33 percent and the national average is 35 percent," Huddleston said.

He reviewed Haslam's connective initiatives such as Tennessee Reconnect, Tennessee Promise (where people can go to a tech college tuition free if eligible) and LEAP.

NTC initiated 300 internships at 30 middle Tennessee companies (Mt. Juliet included).

"Simply said, this is no ordinary time in technology and Mt. Juliet is included in a burgeoning industry," Huddleston concluded.

Writer Laurie Everett can be contacted at laurieeverett1@gmail.com.

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