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Technology summit comes to Gwinnett

DULUTH - Bernie Marcus, who has spent about $200 million to bring Atlanta its first giant aquarium, knows the importance of technology.

The co-founder of Home Depot used high-tech programs to organize and track inventory as the home improvement chain grew into a $75 billion a year business. More recently, he used technology to monitor the 8 million gallons of fresh and salt water and 100,000 animals that will fill the nation's largest aquarium in Atlanta.

The water temperature, testing and graphics are "all done though computers," Marcus told hundreds of high-tech executives, chief technology officers and IT gurus from various metro Atlanta firms on Wednesday.

They were attending the Technology Association of Georgia summit held at Gwinnett Center. It marked the first time Gwinnett has hosted the event.

Marcus used the opportunity to explain the important role technology plays in the business world. He also managed to praise technology and allude to the recent problems the Federal Emergency Management Agency had responding to Hurricane Katrina.

As newly formed and powerful Hurricane Wilma threatens Florida, Marcus said Home Depot is using its computer systems to find generators from Michigan and California stores and move them south.

Long before the storm hits, Home Depot will have trucks filled with equipment and supplies heading toward the storm, Marcus said. "We're better than FEMA in that way," he said.

Gwinnett business leaders said landing the conference solidifies Gwinnett's reputation as a technology hub in metro Atlanta. The Gwinnett Chamber's Technology Forum, which includes many Gwinnett high-tech companies, helped draw the conference here.

The Technology Association of Georgia serves as an advocate for the state's high-tech industry, which includes businesses, government, educational institutions, and providers of supporting services. The group is made up of more than 2,500 technology professionals, representing hundreds of companies based in Georgia.