At the GEO Huntsville Conference last week, senior executives and civic leaders gathered for a panel entitled Invest in Huntsville to discuss the impact of a new budget climate on a city reliant on federal dollars. John Southerland, director of Cummings Research Park, the second largest research park in the country, led the group in exploring how their respective companies leverages the existing talent pool and whether it's sufficient to continue the growth seen in the region. The panel consisted of Steve Hill, CEO, AEgis Technologies; Joe Fehrenbach, COO, Intergraph Government Solutions; Joe Ritch, Sirote & Permutt and Chairman of theTennessee Valley BRAC Commission; Dr. Marc Bendickson, CEO, Dynetics; Ronnie Hoff, Executive VP, Magnolia River; and John Gully, Executive VP, SAIC and chairman of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce's Technology Committee.
Southerland noted Huntsville maintains the highest per capita of Ph.D.'s in the country and that in order to keep this kind of talent pool the city must continue to attract new businesses and that these compaines don't necessarily rely on federal contracts. Steve Hill of AEgis Technologies is looking expand his company to more commercial endeavors such as nano technology and GIS. Ronnie Hoff of Magnolia River is looking to expand his company's expertise in GIS and just recently acquired Aeroquest Optimal, a provider of GIS services in photogrammetry. Joe Ritch, responsible for Huntsville's success in securing the relocation and consolidation of Army installations to Huntsville is already looking at the next round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) that is most likely to happen as the Defense Department seeks continued paring of their budgets. Intergraph Government Solutions, an integrator of geospatial solutions, has added cybersecurity as a component of its services. Dynetics is heavily involved in the commercialization of space and is a technology supplier to Microsoft founder Paul Allen's Stratolaunch Systems in addition to developing technology for small satellites.