Inc. 500 Conference Kicks Off in Savannah - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/31/06

Inc. 500 Conference Kicks Off in Savannah

Business professionals with the fastest-growing companies in the nation are gathering on Hutchinson Island for Inc. magazine's annual Inc. 500 conference at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center. This represents an awesome opportunity for our area. These companies are growing, and thanks to today's internet technology, even small companies can expand beyond their home towns.

Today, the mayor of Savannah welcomed them to what he's now calling the Creative Coast.

"We can create this image of this area as being the Creative Coast," said Mayor Otis Johnson, "because we've got the intellectual power, we've got the technological base in place, and all we need now is people to come and take advantage of that."

So Johnson wooed these business and technology professionals with tales of Savannah's history of innovation, from the first steam ship to cross the Atlantic--the Savannah--to today's high-tech education.

It's a mission championed by a local economic development group known as the Creative Coast Initiative. Local leaders say that working to attract cutting-edge business makes a lot of sense. Today's business people know that you can work from anywhere.

They just need to decide where.

"I think that it's an opportunity to see an area that we wouldn't normally see," said Mike Canney, a defense contractor from Reston Virginia. "And as we're expanding across the country, we're looking for new places to open businesses and we want to get a feel for the area."

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas Friedman talked about how internet technology has made the world very small, and how tomorrow's jobs will go to the best people regardless of location. But when the competition's global, so is the opportunity to attract new business.

"A lot of our employees are highly educated, so we're looking for areas where they and their family can come raise a family and have opportunities for themselves," said Canney.

And the people of the Creative Coast hope it's here.

The conference continues tomorrow, but if you didn't come out you missed out on one of the big draws. Former President Bill Clinton addressed attendees. We'll have more on the former president's visit tonight on THE News at 11.

Reported by: Charles Gray, cgray@wtoc.com

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