June 2008: Trend Radar

The game’s afoot: It isn’t often that high school-age business developers flock to Atlanta for a conference designed to open the doors to entrepreneurship, but that’s just what happened last spring when the Game Development eXchange (GDX) opened its doors at the capital city’s campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

Now in its fourth year, GDX is a showcase for Georgia’s burgeoning game industry, which the state’s game promoters see as a future economic force. This year’s event drew 380 gamers who listened to lectures, saw new design techniques, and, well, played games.

“We had a real contingency of high school students coming in this year,” says John Sharp, a professor of interactive design and game development at SCAD. “In the past, they probably would have gone off to another state to study game development.”

This year’s GDX meet included discussions on entrepreneurship, moving products from idea to reality and current business trends in the industry.

In addition to being an excellent recruiting tool for SCAD, the conference holds promise for young game jobseekers and independent development entrepreneurs. “When we first opened this campus, I couldn’t honestly say to them, ‘You’re going to be able to get a job in the state of Georgia in the game industry,’” Sharp says. “Now we can say, ‘You’re going to have an excellent chance to find a career, stay here close to home with your family and friends and have the career you want to have.’”

Georgia’s gaming industry got another boost May 12, when Gov. Perdue signed into law the 2008 Entertain-ment Industry Investment Act, which offers a 20 percent tax credit for qualified productions – films, TV shows, music videos and video games – which are then eligible for an additional 10 percent tax credit if they include an animated Georgia promotional logo within the finished product. The economic impact of all these entertainment segments in Georgia was $413 million in 2007.

Prepping for PACS: The age of the X-ray apparently is ending – at least as we know it. More and more hospitals are installing new digital photo and scanning equipment called PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System).

That’s creating a demand for the radiologic specialists to operate the new equipment. Right now only one Georgia institution of higher learning has both the equipment and the staff to produce those specialists: Ogee-chee Technical College (OTC) in Statesboro.

Currently some 25 students occupy PACS classrooms and the online student population – radiology technicians wishing to cross-train to become radiographers – is growing almost daily. “This little technical college in Georgia is going to be providing the training for radiographers all over the nation,” says Lynda Tinker, director of OTC’s Radiologic Tech-nology Program.

With hospitals under a federal mandate to keep digital electronic records, PACS specialists are in high demand. Trainees with only a high school diploma can complete OCC’s two-year program and walk into jobs with starting salaries of up to $50,000.

Ogeechee Tech got a head start in its PACS training thanks to a Charleston businessman who helped the school land the software, valued at $400,000. Add in the rest of the computer technology and OTC’s startup costs reached almost $500,000 – quite an achievement for installing a program fresh from R&D.

Something in the air: Boca Raton, Florida-based DayJet has put an inventive twist on getting Georgia customers from here to there. Using what DayJet calls “per-seat on-demand,” business travelers can enjoy charter jet service at economy seat prices – if they know how to construct their schedule online.

DayJet customers book flights according to their own schedules and give the air taxi a window for the desired time they wish to depart and arrive on their trips; the greater the window, the cheaper the flight. A DayJet executive says the company’s customer base is growing at 25 percent a month, and the company is adding more VLJs (very light jets) to its fleet.

DayJet presently serves seven of Georgia’s metro areas – Atlanta excluded – with plans to expand. And the service also picks up and deposits passengers in more rural communities such as Waycross and Vidalia, all part of DayJet’s business plan to provide jet service to smaller cities in the Southeast. There are only three seats on its jets, so travelers won’t find crowded waiting areas. The new air service projects expenditures for fuel, salaries and landing and parking fees that it says will boost the Geor-gia economy by $40-plus million within the first three years of its presence in the state.

Categories: Economic Development Features, Features