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Conference focuses on digital economy
Technology has large presence in Forsyth
David Holcomb, left, and Juan Machado use tablets during the North Georgia Digital Economy Conference on Thursday. - photo by Jennifer Sami

Business owners should make sure they have a website.

Educators should ensure technology is part of a lesson.

Technology is not going away and now is the time to embrace it.

Those were among the talking points Thursday during the North Georgia Digital Economy Conference.

Sponsored by the Georgia Technology Authority’s Digital Georgia Program, the gathering brought together educators, small business owners, elected officials and technology industry representatives at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center.

Several panelists spoke about the importance of technology in their fields.

Forsyth County Board of Education member Ann Crow, who also owns a business with her husband, learned that women account for about only 54 percent of businesses with websites.

“So there’s a huge disconnect on the need for a site and that every business should at least have that,” she said. “And getting help. Don’t try to do it by yourself ... you need to fit the solution to what you’re doing.”

Paul Chambers, AT&T district manager, attended the conference both to support a panelist from the utility and to see how businesses are using the bandwidth his company supports.

“It’s exciting times for us. We continue to invest heavily in landlines and wireless infrastructure,” Chambers said. “Over the past three years, just in Georgia, we’ve invested $3.9 billion in capital to expand our networks and it’s because people are using it more and more and you’ve got to keep up with the demand.”

Chambers, who also serves on the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, said AT&T has about 1,100 employees who live in Forsyth. It’s just one of many companies with a technology footprint in the county.

“It’s a huge part of our local economy,” he said. “There’s just a tremendous amount of excitement and interest in how technology is changing our lives and what we can all do, either personally, or through our company, to be a part of that.”