Moderated by Rick Badie
In a recent newsletter, Tino Mantella — president of the Technology Association of Georgia — called our state “the health IT capital of the nation.” Today, he writes about the region being a leading health care IT cluster. Meanwhile, a real estate executive predicts the metro Atlanta housing industry will return to “normal” in 2014. To comment, go to: http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-forward/
A vibrant health IT cluster
By Tino Mantella
As attention is paid to the pros and cons of the Affordable Care Act, it is important to make note of the key role technology will have in meeting fundamental challenges in health care delivery.
Health information technology is a unique sector of the health care industry that involves the design, development, creation, use and maintenance of information systems for medical- and insurance-related enterprises as well as their consumers.
Health IT jobs pay an average salary of $81,000 a year. Investments in the industry have doubled to $2.2 billion since 2012, according to a recent report by Mercom Capital Group. This increase is a result of current regulatory trends and is expected to open up new markets for many vendors.
Georgia is uniquely positioned to capitalize on this growth in a number of critical areas:
• Electronic health records: Atlanta is home to more than 50 major data centers. Two of the nation’s largest fiber routes intersect here. Virtually every major fiber provider possesses a core interconnection point in the metro area. This infrastructure, along with the state’s strong information security industry, is a tremendous asset for managing the data generated by the nation’s medical institutions and physicians.
• Mobile health: The practice of using communication devices, such as mobile phones, tablet computers and PDAs, to deliver health information, marketing and services is now an essential component of innovative health care. Georgia offers a fertile environment for innovation in this space as the state is among the Top 10 areas in the U.S. for mobile development, with at least 24,000 jobs attributed to this sector.
• Tele health: Ongoing improvements to Georgia’s extensive communications infrastructure will help the state meet the growing demand for delivery of remote health screening and monitoring, physician visits and related services.
• Health care payment processing: The U.S. health care payments market is estimated to be $2.7 trillion (IDC Health Insights). Long recognized as a leader in the financial technology industry, Georgia is already claiming a piece of the action. There are eight publicly held financial technology companies based in Atlanta with a combined revenue of more than $22 billion. More than 85 billion payment card transactions pass through the networks of Atlanta’s financial technology organizations.
Georgia boasts vibrant health IT clusters in Augusta, Athens and metro Atlanta. It benefits from the headquarters of organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Cancer Society, Arthritis Foundation and CARE. We also leverage the collective brain power emerging from our medical universities, technical colleges and workforce programs.
At the Technology Association of Georgia, I have seen our state make enormous strides. TAG will continue to do its part to build, celebrate, promote, influence and connect Georgia’s health IT sector and our more-than 19,000 technology companies and 263,000 technology workers.
Tino Mantella is the president/CEO of the Technology Association of Georgia.
Real estate 2014: A return to normal
By Frank K. Norton Jr.
At the close of one calendar year and the beginning of another, it’s only natural to reflect on what has been and look forward to what will be.
The Atlanta real estate industry — development, construction, sales and finance — has made a slow, steady climb out of the abyss but remains a “cat toy” that gets battered back and forth between market highs and lows. For years, the national press has used the Atlanta real estate market as the poster child for gluttony and excess, then disaster and despair. While a bright light has emerged on the Atlanta horizon, uncertainty still rules most long-term investment decisions.
The year brought much more than just improvements in Atlanta. We saw real property sustainability and market resurrection. Almost 55,000 homes will have traded hands through the FMLS/GAMLS systems by year’s end. Last year saw 2013 Realtors fighting hard for inventory, which hovered from three to five months. The new-home industry, shocked back to life with some sort of celestial defibrillator, had single-family starts annualizing at 15,000 units, principally across north Atlanta.
But at year’s end, once again we hear the “national noise” with regard to Atlanta’s future, projecting a sales slowdown from 2013, stagnant inventory, a flooded multi-family market, and flat new-home construction.
The quick prediction for 2014 is that real estate sales this winter will be slow, spring and summer brisk, and fall less so.
Metro Atlanta real estate professionals understand residential real estate has a social cycle, a clear seasonality of home purchasing. Appreciation only happens from April to July. In August, everyone in Georgia (and America) goes on vacation. Small upticks occur in the housing market in the back-to-school months of September and October, then again in November and December. January buying takes a holiday.
We predict this pattern will repeat itself over and over. Regardless how much stimulus or market hype is pushed on the public, this social cycle won’t vary in degree.
So, what will we see and not see in 2014?
• We will not see a surge in new foreclosures. This wave has largely passed.
• We will not see an energy-fueled construction boom until regulators relax lending guidelines.
• We will see homeownership rates around 64 percent and Atlanta home appreciation to range from 4 to 5 percent per year for several years forward.
• Overall, inventory will remain a modest four- to five-month supply.
• Atlanta has traded 50,000 to 55,000 homes a year through Realtors since 2008. That’s normal demand, and it is not affected by aggressive lending initiatives. Normal is good, healthy and powerful for Atlanta’s real estate market. The year 2014 will be normal.
And there is nothing wrong with being normal.
Frank K. Norton Jr. is CEO/chairman of the Norton Agency.