Business

Panel says Charlotte’s startups in need of tech talent

A student uses a Chromebook while working on an exercise in class at Berryhill School in Charlotte. All CMS middle school students now have access to a Chromebook during class. One solution to growing a more tech-savvy talent base in Charlotte lies in the educational arena, speakers at a technology panel said Thursday.
A student uses a Chromebook while working on an exercise in class at Berryhill School in Charlotte. All CMS middle school students now have access to a Chromebook during class. One solution to growing a more tech-savvy talent base in Charlotte lies in the educational arena, speakers at a technology panel said Thursday. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte still has work to do when it comes to developing technology talent for its startups, leaders from the entrepreneurial sector said at a panel on Thursday.

The panel, “The State of Our Entrepreneurial City,” was part of a Google I/O (innovation in the open) event at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture.

Panelist James Huston of Red Ventures, the Indian Land-based digital marketing company, said Charlotte faces a challenge in competing with tech talent on the West Coast.

One solution to growing a more tech-savvy talent base lies in the educational arena, said Paul Wetenhall of Ventureprise, a venture development organization at UNC Charlotte.

“The prevailing customer for higher education in Charlotte tends to be big banks and large institutions,” Wetenhall said. “This is not necessarily bad, but their needs are different than young entrepreneurial companies.” Colleges should tailor their training to both, he said.

Valerie Truesdale, chief information officer of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, said one step in preparing students for more entrepreneurial and tech-driven jobs is increasing students accessibility to the Internet. As an example, she cited CMS’ initiative to equip students with Chromebooks.

Though its tech talent base has room to grow, panelists agreed Charlotte is still successful in creating a networking system for entrepreneurs to meet and learn from one another.

Said Adam Hill of Packard Place, the startup hub and incubator: “If you’re a founder and starting business for the first time, Charlotte is a great place.”

Chaney: 704-358-5197

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