Bryan Huddleston wants everyone to know that Nashville is not, in his words, a fly-over city for technology. Music City, he says, "is a destination."
The recently installed president and CEO of the Nashville Technology Council has much on his plate, but foremost is promoting the Middle Tennessee technology community.
"We have a strong and vibrant technology community and everybody everywhere needs to know about us," Huddleston says.
This may be news given the consistent message that Nashville's workforce is not tech-savvy or -saturated enough to be innovative.
"Developing tech talent isn't unique to Nashville," Huddleston says. "It's an issue many communities are working to solve. What makes us different is that leaders in our community recognized the opportunities early, and there has been a concerted effort to develop and attract talent to Nashville."
Huddleston cites the NTC’s T3 initiative, a partnership with 14 universities and two public schools to expand those entities’ technology programs. From that initiative, he says, local universities have collaborated to raise $1.325 million in tech grants, with the potential of another $1.8 million by this spring.
Combined with technology adoption programs and an initiative to attract talent from outside Nashville, Huddleston says there are now 41 percent more technology skilled students in computer networking and communications programs than there were in 2008.
The NTC’s key priority for 2014, Huddleston says, is promoting the city's tech talent.
"Our local technology community is the creative class of our city,” he says. “They are a nurturing, community-minded, diverse and driven group of individuals.