RALEIGH — The acronym NCEITA is about to join history’s discard list, but it’s unlikely anyone affiliated with high tech in North Carolina over the past 12 years will ever forget the shorthand.

NCEITA is changing its name as of today to NCTA.

That’s short for the North Carolina Technology Association.

“You still pronounce it the same way,” said Joe Freddoso, site executive for Cisco in Research Triangle Park and NCETA’s new chairman, with a chuckle.

N-C-T-A. Get it?

NCEITA, which stood for the North Carolina Electronics and Information Technology Association, stands second to no organization when it comes to work on behalf of technology, job recruitment and education in the Tar Heel state.

Same Mission – A Brighter Future

The press release about the change was brief and included no elaboration about the change other than membership had approved it.

Regardless of the name, NCTA’s mission statement truly reflects the group’s goals: “The intersection of technology and leadership fueling the growth of North Carolina through Executive Engagement, Public Affairs, and a Knowledge Workforce.”

Freddoso told Local Tech Wire the name change reflects both the growth of the organization – and changes in terminology about tech.

“To Call it NCTA is to give a broader scope,” Freddoso said. “Our memebership includes organizations with a technology component. Members now include Progress Energy, Duke Energy and GlaxoSmithKline. What we wanted was a name with broader scope.”

Freddoso also pointed out that “electronics is not used anymore to reflect the industry.”

But the name change was not made without discussion. Freddoso said the group’s board had been discussing the idea for several months before putting the idea to the membership for a vote.

A Past To Remember

People with a lot of gray hair, colored hair or are losing their hair (like me) remember the launch of NCEITA with fondness. And those of all ages now who have seen or been part of the accomplishments of the organization since it was launched in 1993 should be proud of its achievements.

I first became aware of NCEITA in 1994 when Republican political veteran and astute businesswoman Betsy Justus, the group’s first full-time executive director, visited me at another fledgling company’s headquarters — former Internet service provider Interpath. (I was the vice president and general manager.) She came towing an executive from BellSouth, and both launched a persuasive argument as to why NCEITA was important to the state’s future.

Interpath became one of NCEITA’s earliest supporters and partners. I believed then, and still do, that high tech is the crucial element in the economic future of our state — and country.

Justus left in 1998 to join a consulting firm, and she was replaced by the energetic and relentless Joan Myers. Myers has driven the organization’s membership to hundreds in number, put together a series of annual must-attend education events (such as its CEO Conversation, featuring Cisco CEO John Chambers on April 21), and is driving a political agenda for her constituents at the General Assembly.

NCEITA created and gave to the state its “State of Minds” campaign. The group also has launched a series of technology pilot programs at schools with grants won from the federal government. And the NCEITA “21 Awards” is recognized as one of the top honors any company or individual linked to the high tech sector can receive.

Myers, working with a well-connected board of directors, always has an aggressive agenda for growth and means to foster it, from tax cuts to demands for better education.

For the time being at least, NCEITA remains the web site address (www.nceita.org ) for the group. No doubt that will change in the near future.

Changced, but not forgotten.

Rick Smith is managing editor of Local Tech Wire.