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Conference discusses technology, business needs in Dawson County
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Several key messages came out of a conference held last week by the Development Authority of Dawson County: Many people understand the need for, and value of, the powerful technology coming to Dawson County, but are stumped about how to apply it to their organizations. The need for general business support may be as great as the need for that technology. And people want to see more technology and business eventslike those more common closer in to Atlantaheld in Dawson County.

The WatermarkDawson 2011 conference was a small one, about 25 people. But the messages are important to Development Authority Executive Director Charlie Auvermann, who brought the group, comprising young professionals, entrepreneurs, small and large business decision makers and others, together.

Auvermann said he organized the conference to help business owners and other organizational leaders stay up to date on new trends, budding technologies and support systems available to them. At the same time, the event was intended to provide a platform for opinions, questions and discussion about whats needed to help local businesses thrive.

Dawson County has the capability of being international, and that capability will keep growing, Auvermann told attendees. We have to be able to match the capacity with what businesses need to be able to do.

Topics discussed at the forum included the local opportunities to be brought by the under- construction North Georgia Network, an 1,100 mile fiber optic network with speeds as fast as anywhere in the world; the possibility of better products, services and prices from other broadband providers; CrowdFunding, a growing Internet-based way to raise capital to grow business; and a current South Georgia example of how community cooperation and vision can lead to effective technology solutions.

Other presentations covered entrepreneurial training at North Georgia College & State University, service quality, an introduction to the Technology Association of Georgia and an overview of often-free services provided by the Small Business Development Center.

One group absent from the conference: Dawsons young information technology (IT) professionals. Auvermann said hes eager to include them in the dialogue since they can help the community understand how to assimilate technology into its vision of the future. They generally represent a youthful culture that brings new ideas and ways of thinking to the table.

Getting this group together for an event has proved challenging, though, according to Assistant Development Authority Director Mary Simmons. Many of them are running very small shops and cant afford to be unavailable to customers for several hours. Even technology professionals working for larger companies have a tough time participating in outside events due to heavy workloads.

The Development Authority will continue to court them. In the meantime, Auvermann is interested in hearing from IT professionals and others in the community who have innovative ideas about how to make the most of new broadband capabilities and business resources to support new business start-ups and existing business growth and expansion. Those wishing to share ideas are encouraged to contact the Development Authority at development@dawson.org or 706-265-8761.

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