RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Entrepreneurs and technology executives in the Carolinas can expect to hear a lot more in coming months from AeA, says the trade group’s new exec for the southeast.

That process begins today with the release of an AeA high-tech industry survey in the nation’s top 60 metros.

Noting that many people had not heard of AeA (which used to be known as the American Electronics Association), Glen Whitley stressed in an interview: “We certainly would like to change that. This is one of the reasons I was brought on board.”

Whitley is no stranger to the area, having worked for several years in business development at the British consulate in Atlanta. Whitley also has worked in the high-tech sector for 20 years and has come “to your neck of the woods every couple of months” he said, referring to the Triangle. He joined AeA in April as executive director of its Southeast Council.

AeA, which is based in Washington, has in the past focused its efforts in the Atlanta area. But Whitley is tasked with growing AeA across six states in all – the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. In North Carolina, Whitley said he wants to work more closely with the Council for Entrepreneurial Development and the North Carolina Technology Association. AeA already has some members in the Carolinas, including wireless technology firm Harris Stratex.

Whitley wants to explain to companies the benefits AeA can offer as a lobbying firm both “nationally and locally.” The Cybercities report is an addition to a Cyberstates survey the group conducts, giving technology executives what Whitley calls “benchmarking reports” for information such as job growth and compensation levels.

Both the Triangle and Atlanta areas are growing in terms of technology employment, according to the new Cybercities report. But having been based in Atlanta, Whitley said he is not surprised.

“From my past experience in the southeast, we do have tremendous university systems, and the core in North Carolina is fantastic,” Whitley said. “Plus we have the two federal labs at Oakridge (Tennessee) and Savannah (Georgia). The research being done at the universities and the labs and the workers being produced by the universities are what technology companies need.”

In the past, AeA also put on a regional venture capital conference to help match tech startups with potential investors. However, Whitley has put that event “on hold” and instead plans to focus his efforts on what he called “vertical markets.” On July 28, AeA will put on a mergers-and-acquisitions program in Atlanta.

“We’re trying to figure out how to best service our members,” he added. “A regional venture event was missing when AeA Southeast started. That market seems to be well served now.”

For more information about AeA, contact Whitley at: Glen_Whitley@aeanet.org