Tech Belt Summit Expects Strong Turnout May 15

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- What last year was dubbed the Northeastern Ohio Technology Summit is today re-branded as the Tech Belt Technology Summit, an annual gathering of technology professionals from across the Tri-State region that its hosts say is expected to draw additional interest this year.

It's for that reason that this year’s event has a new name, one that better reflects the regional connections the Mahoning Valley has with tech communities that stretch from Cleveland to Pittsburgh, extend to Columbus and into parts of West Virginia, says Carl Gordulic, president and chief operating officer at Data Recovery Services LLC, a co-sponsor of the event.

"We really reach out to western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Sharon, Wheeling, W.Va., and all the way to Columbus," he reports. "We didn't want to exclude any of these areas."

The Tech Summit is also co-hosted by the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber and has attracted 18 other committed sponsors or partners.

This year's summit, set for Thursday, May 15 at the Williamson College of Business Administration of Youngstown State University, will include additional sessions for the three tracks featured throughout the day.

Each track is directed to a specific professional discipline, he says. One will feature programs and sessions for chief information officers, another includes informational topics related to business owners and executives, and the third is geared to technology professionals.

Last year, each track held three sessions. This year a fourth was added, notes Lauren McNally, DRS' director of marketing. "People wanted more, so we developed a schedule to accommodate each track," she explains.

The tracks, divided into four 50-minute sessions, cover topics such as mobile-device security, disaster recovery and business continuity, increasing one’s business with IT, leveraging fiber and connecting with the cloud, and data center management best practices.

"We've also added a government program," Gordulic says. "We'd like to provide information on how private industry and technology work with government."

The government component of the tech summit will consist of a panel discussion that focuses on how information technology services can help facilitate economic growth and identify new revenue streams. Among the participants for the panel discussion is Todd Jackson, chief information officer of the city of Westerville, Gordulic says.

Westerville invested $8.8 million in its fiber infrastructure and created the first municipal community data center in the nation, which then led to the creation of the city's WeConnect program. In the first two years, these improvements helped create or retain 700 jobs for the city with an average salary of $65,000.

Also taking part in the roundtable are Westerville's economic development director, Jason Bechtold; Youngstown economic development director T. Sharon Woodberry; and Jeff Gamreth, a grant-writing specialist from Ice Miller LLP, Columbus.

Public-private collaboration has yielded major benefits to Youngstown, observes Tony Paglia, Regional Chamber vice president of government and media affairs. Cooperative efforts such as the TechBelt initiative, for example, helped land projects such as America Makes: The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute to downtown, the Obama administration's pilot program to build a network of research and development related to manufacturing.

"It put us on the map not only in our country, but around the world," Paglia said in a statement April 25.

Additional lunchtime round tables hosted by companies such as Cisco, EMC, HP and Veeam, will also be available.

"There is a lot of knowledge here," Gordulic says. "A lot of companies are doing a lot of different things."

One overall objective of these summits is to bring together tech professionals from all over the region so they can share information and create a learning environment that lends itself to the region's economic growth.

"There's a lot of sharing of information and knowledge in this industry," Gordulic relates. "We're trying to bring some of the best technology professionals and minds together and discuss different topics."

This year, the event is hoping to draw more than 150 professionals. "Last year, the response was overwhelming," he recalls. "It was a lot of face-to-face gathering and getting a chance to bounce ideas off people who like to get caught up on trends."

Copyright 2014 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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