Atlanta is poised to be the Florence of the Digital Age.
There’s a rumbling of chatter and growing excitement about Atlanta and its future. You hear it at every marketing event. Every digital conference. You hear it every time a local politician speaks. You see it on billboards and in blog posts written by community leaders.
And I suppose everybody wants their city to be the best. To believe their city is the best. But in Atlanta, that feeling doesn’t come from a place of default hometown pride. It doesn’t come from a place of hubris or lack of worldliness.
It comes from experiencing, first-hand, exactly what it is that makes Atlanta so special. A feeling you can only understand once you’ve lived here. Worked here. Grown your career here or started a family here.
Not enough people know that Atlanta is an economic engine boasting the 15th largest economy in the world. They don’t know that it’s a booming metropolis, home to over 5.45 million people and has a GDP of $270 billion. They don’t know about the innovative work being done inside offices all over Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead. They don’t know that Atlanta is a digital mecca – #4 among Venture Capitalists – and is on pace to become the nation’s hottest start up scene.
But what makes Atlanta so special isn’t that it’s on its way to becoming the biggest. Atlanta is special because it’s on its way to becoming the best.
And there is a difference.
We believe Atlanta is the next great digital hub. The place where 25-34 year old college-educated professionals flock to own businesses and make their dreams reality. The place where they are encouraged to set up shop and innovate, not navigate unruly political red tape and expenses. The place they can find a comfortable balance between work and life while receiving a starting salary 21% above the national average.
Atlanta will never be Silicon Valley. It’s not in the city’s blood. Atlanta will never attract every VC or entrepreneur in the country looking to make a quick buck. Honestly, that’s too meager of a goal anyway.
Atlanta attracts the kinds of people who thrive in a tight knit community. The kinds of people who feed off the city’s vibrant energy and turn it into something even greater.
It’s that energy that makes Atlanta a one of a kind place.
There’s something in the air here. There’s southern charm and hospitality. There’s a feeling – that of a world-class city with small-town friendliness. Maybe it’s because the city is covered in trees – “the city in the forest”, as they say. Maybe it’s because we hold our organizations – and ourselves — to a different standard. Maybe it’s because of the city’s humbleness, never really telling its story or boasting.
Whatever it is, it’s helped Atlanta become the perfect convergence of opportunity and quality of life.
Here in Atlanta, people do more and stand for more. Being an Atlanta-based business is different. Local firms like MailChimp and Sweet Water are more than just hip brands. They’re more than successful businesses. They have heart. They’re real. They take a personal stake in making the city better.
When you go to industry events, your competitors aren’t just industry peers, they’re also friends. It’s rare to see anyone being unhelpful or rude – even to a competitor. Businesses choose daily to be collaborative not cut throat.
It’s why a collection of agencies, tech companies, associations, government entities, and others volunteered their time to bring the Choose ATL campaign to life.
Even our corporate behemoths have a different feel. Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Chick-fil-A, and others have decidedly distinct brand personalities compared to their New York, Chicago, or San Francisco counterparts. Employees care more about a strong company culture than about simply clocking in and out.
This is the kind of attitude that Atlanta fosters.
Atlanta is the soon-to-be home of the new Falcons’ stadium, a wonder of modern design that not only pushes the limits of technology and architecture, but of the fan experience. An incredible collaboration meant to better serve Atlanta’s fans and residents.
We don’t want companies or projects that don’t think this way. That don’t add value to the community. We don’t want corporate giants that deceive stockholders and live for profit above all else. We don’t want firms coming here to take advantage of the young talent, paying them a pittance, then chewing them up and spitting them out.
We want the best of the best of the best. And this city won’t settle for anything less.
Being successful here really means something. It’s not enough just to be the most efficient. It’s not enough just to make widgets. Of course you have to have a driven organization with amazing products and services. But you also need to have a sense of community. A sense of comradery and good will towards those around you. The organization has to be more than a P&L.
Without that, your company won’t make it here.
Atlanta firms prove every day that they realize that we’re all human. That we’re all in this together. And that caring about each other, being nice to each other, and being friendly is more than just a way of life. It is life.
At least, that’s the way it is here in Atlanta. More importantly, it’s the only way to create a sustainable business climate. Businesses cannot thrive without people. There’s a balance that’s needed. All work and no play means lower consumer spending, less innovation, and the spiral of financial chaos caused by people trying to make money from simply having money.
Then poof. You’re all hat and no cowboy. I love New York and San Francisco. But they’re relics of the 90’s struggling to find that perfect balance.
Atlanta nails it. It’s simply the perfect convergence of opportunity and quality of life. Where people and businesses thrive. Where entrepreneurs can make it. Where there’s substance.
It’s the emerging center of the digital age.
And it’s the next epic city in history.