Atlanta is fast becoming one of the hottest tech hubs in the United States, fueled by a combination of a superior talent base, start-up hubs, thriving business community, attractive tax regime and affordable cost of living, among other factors.
The first thing any business needs is well-trained staff, and Atlanta’s university system has been focused intensely on producing top-tier talent, creating a symbiotic ecosystem whereby universities have delivered on producing STEM-qualified students, organizations have recognized that pool and hired from it, and are now requesting more, creating a virtuous cycle. Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University are two of the top players, along with Georgia State University and University of Georgia who have all developed well-deserved reputations as top tech centers.
Secondly, that talent needs an affordable location in which to work and prosper. Silicon Valley has a world-wide reputation as a top tech mecca, however often present in those same glowing accolades are complaints about the sky-high cost of living. Atlanta simply offers more value for the dollar, compared to its costlier peer cities. This goes for basics like gas, food and rent, but also includes other variables such as child care and recreation. Boot-strapping founders and engineers trying to build a start-up from the ground up need to pay close attention to these metrics.
Then, those people need somewhere to develop their ideas, and Atlanta has no shortage of incubators, accelerators, start-up clusters, tech hubs and the like to help get burgeoning tech companies off the ground. The Atlanta Tech Village, Switchyards Downtown Club and Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) are all examples of strong organizations and spaces that help boost start-ups. The Flatiron Opportunity Hub, for example, is a novel combination of entrepreneurship, fundraising, education and networking all built into one ecosystem.
All those organizations need governmental money and support, and Atlanta’s leadership teams are giving full backing to the tech sector, recognizing that it will be a major growth area for the city moving forward. Organizations such as the Metro Atlanta Chamber have been finding new and creative ways to keep boosting the Atlanta tech scene. Atlanta also has major government backing to be the exclusive host of the first edition of one of the world’s most important Smart Cities conferences, highlighting the city’s commitment to responsible, sustainable growth aided through technology. There are tax incentives, as well, such as Georgia’s 30% Film, Television, and Digital Entertainment Tax Credit.
So who are some of the companies and sectors doing well? Atlanta is known as a fintech hub and also for its IoT sector, SaaS and media start-ups, to name a few. Salesforce is building a huge tower downtown. MailChimp, a bona fide unicorn, went from offering modest email-optimization services to a full-service CRM and marketing powerhouse. Rubicon Global is an IoT organization focused on optimizing waste management through sensor and tracking systems all based in the cloud. Calendly has had great success helping people and businesses improve how they schedule meetings and appointments. More established organizations such as General Electric, Honeywell and Accenture have also all chosen to name Atlanta for some of their most important new tech initiatives.
Atlanta is quickly positioning itself as a great place to do business for both established tech companies as well as new businesses just getting started. The combination of talent, affordability, government incentives and community support have led the city to become one of the top cities to watch on the tech radar.