NC TECH, the state’s largest association of technology firms and organizations, recently finalized its 2024 programming lineup with dates for its signature award programs and topical summits. It’s also broadening its statewide networking and panel events to cities outside of its Triangle headquarters in Raleigh.
This comes after the 30-year-old organization saw solid growth in 2023, according to NC TECH Vice President of Strategy and Development Michelle Calton. It added 265 new members, bringing the total to about 700 companies and institutions that employ more than 250,000 workers throughout North Carolina.
Calton says that while no significant strategic changes are in the works for 2024, NC TECH continues to expand its statewide footprint through additional segmented communications, marketing and digital media.
“We have a lot of market penetration in the Triangle, but statewide, there’s lots of opportunities for growth,” Calton says. “We definitely want to grow across the board, with a heightened focus on tech startups.”
This year’s calendar includes networking events and conferences in Wilmington, Charlotte, Pinehurst, New Bern, Durham and Raleigh.
“[Over the last year], we’ve brought back and recruited new members in the Wilmington area,” Calton adds. “There’s lots of growth in the Wilmington market with partnerships, activities and visits we had there.”
Calton notes that NC TECH will also continue hosting virtual networking events and panel discussions this year. The organization expanded its webinar programming during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although it has steadily resumed in-person activities, it sometimes combines them with recorded and live-streamed sessions.
Awards and conferences
NC TECH’s two signature awards programs will return in 2024, starting with the NEXT TECH Awards on May 22 at the Durham Convention Center, in partnership with Business North Carolina.
Tracy Sternberg, NC TECH’s director of programs and sponsorship, says the program launched last year to showcase rising tech stars. “We honor individuals, critical performers in the tech sector and tech-enabled companies,” she says. “These are up-and-comers, not C-suite folks—that’s the distinction.”
The inaugural event drew a turnout of about 250. This year, Sternberg is anticipating 300 attendees.
The organization will also bring back its long-running NC TECH Awards at the Raleigh Convention Center in December, projecting an attendance topping 700. Sternberg says it’s NC TECH’s largest annual event, recognizing tech companies, innovations and individuals for 12 to 18 months of successful work.
Other popular annual events will return in 2024, including the Diversity and Inclusion in Tech Summit, slated for March 21 in Durham, followed by the Summit for Women in Tech in New Bern this September.
Sternberg said NC TECH plans to hold additional companion sessions throughout the year to continue the conferences’ discussions through virtual workshops and panels. That effort includes Lean In Circles, a new women-focused networking program in partnership with Leanin.org. NC TECH opened enrollment last fall to match women leading Circles with those joining. Sternberg estimates that about 30 Lean In Circles will kick off in 2024.
Calton says NC TECH is also expanding its existing executive roundtable series, convening C-suite-level executives to discuss challenges and opportunities in informal networking events. It already hosts two networks for chief information officers (CIOs) responsible for their organization’s tech strategy and chief information security officers (CISOs) who oversee data security. A CIO and CISO reception will be held this Thursday at the Bailey-Tucker House in Raleigh.
Two new peer networks will launch for CEOs and CTOs soon, with seasoned roundtable participants sharing advice and lessons learned. The quarterly CEO series starts on Jan. 31 with a virtual session.
State rankings and job trends reports
NC TECH will again host its long-running Outlook for Tech event in Charlotte on Feb. 2, where it will release its annual State of the Tech Industry Report. The research package, launched in 2015, contains state rankings, tech and workforce trends, and other statistics on North Carolina’s competitiveness. A supplemental briefing sharing the key findings will be held in Wilmington on Feb. 8.
NC TECH also collects research on the latest tech job trends in North Carolina, publishing monthly reports on IT openings, in-demand skills, top hirers and wages.
The organization plans to launch an online dashboard, bringing the data together in one place. Each month, it will release a snapshot of the data with graphics for members and the media.