Brian Moyer’s 2017 State of the Tech Community
Written by: Alex Curtis | Posted Oct 5, 2017

The State of Nashville’s Tech Community is Strong


Download the snapshot of Middle Tennessee’s Tech Landscape here.

Download NTC’s 2017 Annual Report – Creative Technology here.

Learn more about ApprenTech Tennessee here.

Brian Moyer’s State of the Nashville Tech Community – presented at the 2017 NTC Annual Meeting on Oct. 5, 2017

It’s an honor to be here with you this morning, and every day.  I appreciate the opportunity to serve as head of this organization and to lead our efforts to grow our tech community and, in turn, the Middle TN economy.  

The momentum for Middle Tennessee’s tech community over the past year has been tremendous.  We saw the total number of tech businesses grow 16% to 2,346.  But that in no way represents the role technology plays in every one of our area businesses.  Money Magazine ranked us as the 8th hottest city for tech jobs.  Forbes ranked us fourth in the country for growth of technology jobs overall. And CBRE ranked us second in the country for the growth of highly skilled tech workers.  All of this adds up to more than 41,000 tech workers and a $5 billion economic impact in Middle Tennessee.

The NTC’s membership includes approximately 400 tech companies, tech-enabled enterprises, professional service providers, non-profit organizations and educational institutions.  

Our board of directors embody a cross section of the Middle Tennessee tech community and represent companies that generate more than $150 Billion of Nashville controlled revenue with more than 600,000 worldwide employees.   

We connected our tech community by producing and promoting close to 100 different events last year with more than 8,000 attendees and VIP opportunities featuring speakers like Liam Maxwell, National Technology Adviser for the United Kingdom, and Jeremy King, CTO of Walmart.,

We united through our advocacy efforts by taking 13 member companies to DC in February to meet with the TN members of congress in conjunction with the CompTIA DC Fly In.  And then in March by hosting the first ever NTC Tech Day on the Hill and Legislator reception.

We worked to develop the next generation of tech talent by hosting 30 technology camps attended by 500 students grades 3-12, coordinating 16 traveling tech days with 200 students traveling to 37 different companies and colleges, and engaging 2,200 students through the Hour of Code event.

We promoted the Middle TN tech community through numerous activities including participation in the Consumer Technology Association’s New American Job Summit in Washington DC, the outbound Bay Area economic development marketing trip, TechHire events and the Technology Associations of North America.  

One of our most exciting achievements was the opening of Tech Hill Commons, and as we all anticipated, it has quickly become an epicenter of activity for Nashville’s tech community. Thanks in large part to Comcast, a co-investor in the project and our first-ever Vision Partner along with many other contributors, what was once only a dream became reality this past May with a standing room only grand opening event.

Tech Hill Commons includes more than 9,500 square feet of space, with the 150-person Event Center, a coffee station presented by VendEngine, the Comcast Board Room, the ENA Conference Room powered by Cisco, and the Dell Learning Center. From product launches to developer meetups and networking events, the Commons is the living room, conference room, classroom, and auditorium for the Middle Tennessee tech community.         

We invite you to take advantage of our state of the art facility the next time you are looking for an offsite location for team building, video conferencing, education or events.  

It has been a landmark year for our growing HealthTech sector. I am sure many of you heard the news that Philips, a global leader in health technology, has decided to open a center of expertise in the Nashville area that will bring 800 HealthTech jobs to the region. That is an acknowledgment a of broader current of activity here.

There has been a lot of dialogue and cooperation in our community centered around efforts to leverage our deep healthcare domain knowledge to transform Nashville into a leading HealthTech center.  This effort began with the publication of the Brookings report “From health care capital to innovation hub: Positioning Nashville as a leader in health IT”, which was released to the public at last year’s annual meeting.  The report was an important challenge to our community and we convened a coalition to address it.  It started with the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Nashville Health Care Council and the Nashville Technology Council and quickly grew to include Tennessee HIMSS, the City of Nashville and the Center for Medical Interoperability plus area leaders with ties to these and other organizations.  

I would like to provide an update as a member of the coalition:

The Brookings report outlined 15 specific items that need to be in place in order for us to realize this vision.  We have divided responsibility for the items between the coalition partners.  Many were already being worked on and we continue to make great strides toward addressing each objective.

But I believe one of the greatest outcomes of the report is the broader vision that has emerged for our community as a result of our conversations. We saw this report as a springboard to a cause large enough to capture the imagination of our HealthTech and business community, if not the nation.  

That vision is the creation of a framework to facilitate what our group has called “Person Centered Connected Health”.  At its core, this is about data liquidity – creating a system that seamlessly connects each of us to our own health profile.

We adopted the phrase “Person First Alliance” to describe the public face of this effort and began work on a white paper to articulate the vision and its potential impact.  

Nashville’s unparalleled expertise in how to deliver healthcare positions us to lead this evolution. We have the leverage of a $78 billion healthcare industry to compel change and drive innovation.

The Center for Medical Interoperability is actively leading this charge and they are working right now to create the next generation of interoperability architecture that will enhance the flow of information between individuals and health systems affording access to the data needed to provide optimal care.  

There is much more to this story, so please stay tuned for other announcements.

Healthcare consumers are growing increasingly accustomed to the fluid flow of data in every other area of their lives and expect the same in healthcare. We can make this vision a reality and we must seize the opportunity.  

The Technology Council is committed to this effort.  We’ve established our first vertically aligned standing committee to focus on the specific needs of HealthTech.  However, we recognize that Nashville isn’t just about healthcare — in fact each of Middle Tennessee’s diverse set of industries has a growing tech component.  We are intentionally leveraging our region’s specific strengths and assets.  Middle Tennessee is fertile creative ground.  I believe what sets our technology community apart is that it has grown out of this environment.  So, we are adapting NTC’s vision, to “Establish Nashville as the nation’s Creative Tech Destination.”

Creative – to embrace our strengths in music & entertainment, healthcare, and a growing developer community with innovative work being done in the areas of blockchain, virtual reality, data science, and others

Tech – encompassing more than just information technology but other areas such as software development, digital content, UX, tech manufacturing, hardware, data analytics, security, services and more

Destination – meaning we are home to a thriving technology community, with an affordable cost of living, 24 accredited colleges and universities, and great quality of life.

We intend to measure our success by the total number of tech jobs in Middle Tennessee (Nashville MSA).  According to data from CompTIA and the State of Tennessee, that number a year ago was 40,000 and today is 41,233 representing more than 1,200 new tech jobs created in the past year.  

Since coming on board I’ve had the opportunity to visit with hundreds of NTC members, business and community leaders and companies looking to relocate to our area.  During those discussions the most common topic (aside from transportation) was workforce and access to technical talent.   

As technology disrupts nearly every industry, communities across the country are faced with two major issues:  Does our existing tech workforce have the skills to keep up?  And can we fill the pipeline with the next generation of tech workers needed to remain competitive and secure?  

 With 1.8 million tech jobs projected to go unfilled in the U.S. alone by 2024, it is critical that we actively seed the continued expansion of our tech workforce and inspire and equip current workers to lead into the next wave of technology evolution.

The Technology Council has a long history of workforce related initiatives.  What we’ve learned is that there is no silver bullet to developing a tech workforce.  Even with almost 125,000 college and university students in Middle Tennessee, only 6,000 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled in tech-related majors.   Educators and administrators tell us they have the capacity to fill more seats in these classrooms.  That is why we have focused our efforts to date on increasing those enrollment numbers by engaging students as young as third grade with directed outreach and technology programs.  

This year we added an internship program through Mayor Barry’s Opportunity-Now initiative to train high schools students in IT Essentials.  As we heard earlier, the Nashville Software School and other coding boot camps are addressing the need to help career changers quickly build the skills necessary for entry level coding jobs. Still, there are segments of the job market that aren’t being addressed.  It is going to take the continued combined efforts of many organizations and programs.  

So today, it is my great pleasure to announce the formation of ApprenTech Tennessee , the first technology-focused apprenticeship program in Tennessee.  Our goal is to give workers trying to fit into the modern economy a path forward and to give Tennessee the workforce it needs to do what it does best – stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive and secure.

Unlike traditional job-training options, ApprenTech Tennessee combines education and paid on-the-job training for placement in a variety of high paying, high-skill tech occupations. The program works with the tech industry to identify mid-tier jobs ready to be filled by highly competent people — regardless of educational backgrounds. The proposed model complements Governor Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative by providing tuition-free industry certification training and then supporting new employees with mentoring through their first year of employment.

ApprenTech Tennessee will be piloted in Nashville in 2018. We’re already underway securing commitments from companies like yours to be part of this program.  ApprenTech Tennessee will not only create a new stream of tech workers, it is another chance for Nashville’s tech community to intentionally bring into the tech workforce women, veterans, minorities and untapped segments of our population – those who may have the aptitude but have never had the necessary opportunity to land a higher paying tech job.  

ApprenTech Tennessee will be a collaborative effort involving key area partners such as the Nashville Software School and will be a tremendous addition to our ever-expanding efforts to assemble a tech workforce that will support our continued growth and economic prosperity.

Ladies and gentlemen, the state of our creative tech community is strong. We are growing rapidly and building the connections that enable us to stay in harmony.  We are collaboratively injecting innovation into our local industries to make our region the world leaders.  Few efforts are as important to the health and growth of our economy as ensuring the continued development of a trained, talented and diverse technology workforce.  Talent represents the new currency, the new metric by which success will be measured and will become the focus of economic development in the years ahead.