Montgomery’s sprawling Air Force tech conference goes virtual but still benefits the city – Montgomery Advertiser

The 2017 Air Force Information Technology and Cyberpower Conference drew nearly 5,000 attendees from across the Department of Defense and civilian industry.

At this time each year, the Air Force Technology & Cyberpower conference fills the streets of downtown Montgomery with as many as 6,000 people, including some of the top tech minds from the military and the business world. They come here to share the latest innovations while spending money at local restaurants and hotels.

A lot of money.

The event’s annual economic impact is more than the total expected pandemic-related shortfall in the city’s 2020 budget, and it’s just one of the dozens of massive conferences that aren’t meeting physically this year in a downtown powered by convention and tourism business.

Instead, over 40,000 people will attend a virtual version of AFITC that starts Monday. All of those people aren’t actually coming to Montgomery, but Montgomery is still coming to them, and local leaders say it’s still paying off in other ways.

For days, military and business leaders will hear from the people involved in Montgomery’s surging private tech and startup scene. They’ll learn about local innovation hub MGMWerx, hear about the whitewater park being developed just outside the gates of Maxwell Air Force Base, and see packages highlighting the Equal Justice Initiative’s museum and memorial. They’ll see presentations from people like Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean and Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce President