Why Atlanta is Poised to Be the Next Great City & the Center of the Digital Age

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.

Choose ATL - Atlanta by the Numbers from WitnessCo.

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. 

The City of Dreams & Dreamers: Why We Love Atlanta - #ChooseATL from Lyda Interactive, Lyda Video & Photo, and  Nebo Agency.

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.

Courtesy of the Atlanta Falcons

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.

Written by Brian Easter on November 20, 2014


Add A Comment

I just stumbled across this so please excuse the dated response-I see this is a few months old but I wanted to comment nonetheless.

I cannot imagine a better place to hang out a shingle. I transplanted here in 2000 although I've been a pseudo resident since '86 or so having married a southern peach.

The business climate is always competitive, and that's great - it stimulates growth and creative thinking. Local business owners seem to "get it" for the most part, understanding the need to get out and meet their customers, socialize their business, and be a part of the community.

Love it. Thanks for the great writeup.

Adam says:

I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. Atlanta's tag line should be "Creating thicker smoke and shinier mirrors." Seriously, Atlanta has been the debutante at the ball several times (the Olympic, the Super Bowl, Underground Atlanta, Atlanta Public Schools {scandal}, MARTA, and now that laughable Ferris wheel) and always shown itself to be short-sighted, backward, and up to date with the 1950s. Until we have safe nightlife that actually goes into the night and a vibrant, well-supported arts community we will never have/be a World Class city. And every attempt at becoming a world class city is thwarted by the ole' boy's club mentality that is the true South.

The 'Tourist Triangle' is a mask to make the city look like something it is not: clean, safe, recently developed, integrated, run by people of integrity...

No, my friends, Atlanta may be poised to be the next great city, but Atlantans will make sure that never happens.

[And, yes, before you say it: I 'DO' have plans to move out of the South as soon as we take care of a couple life events that have to happen first.]

Alex says:

Now, Tell us about how great our public transport is! Remind me how much fun it is to drive home at jogging pace!
OK, Now lets fix that before more people get here!

You guys hit the nail on the head. I came from the Northeast to attend college, and ended up falling in love with all the doors Atlanta opened for me. There's a sense of workaday sensibility and weekend playfulness that I just love. People have a sense of duty and responsibility to be good stewards of the city, to maintain not only its efficiency but its authenticity. Whenever I come home from a trip, my heart beats a little bit faster seeing the skyline -- I don't think that'll ever change. Atlanta, thank you for being a gem, and for being the perfect place to launch Lexicontent this year. In any other city, owning a business in your 20's is near impossible. Here, your dream is supported. Onward and upward!

Mama Jan says:

Proud to be a native Atlantan and entrepreneur who owns and operates one of those successful businesses. I can do what I do for a living anywhere but chose to keep my home and home base of operations in the ATL!!

I think where many people are making a mistake is limiting the subject of technology to an age. There is not an age limitation or bracket or space of usefulness or ability to learn in technology. Not only is open and free to all people, but it is wide open and limitless for our ability to create, much like art - it is only limited by imagination. I also thing the exploration of technology should not be limited to coding an S.T.E.M., with limitless capacity and an area that is essentially untapped by legality, I think it would behoove everyone to climb into this space even if not in the coding areas. I think the elderly could benefit most from robotics, and augmented reality or artificial intelligence. We could and should be exploring more in the Nano Technology space. and into Space Exploration - there is so much untouched, mobility is wonderful especially with the expanse of holographic imaging and projection mapping. The space is entirely unlimited.

Rick says:

Yes, best thing about ATL I've read! I retired at 56 from teaching in Indiana and moved to Atlanta. I became totally rejuvinated, excited and productive beyond anything I thought possible! Atlanta is about possibilities. Opportunity for anyone, any age who desires to immerse themselves in a new age endeavors surounded by a fantastic lifestyle, friendly people! Atlanta is the best of the best of the best!

Well said! Work hard, be nice to people and do it in Atlanta. Great job on this, Brian. Thanks for inspiring me today!

Denise Reese says:

This is amazing! Great to see some familiar faces!

Patrick says:

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Fred Marks says:

Nice write-up Brian. Almost makes me want to move there. You are a visionary and an asset to Atlanta.


David Petit says:

Wish it would but as we say in the South "it ant". Austin TX is next silicone valley and fast becoming the number 1 digital mecca. Georgia has not and does not have the tax platform needed for digital startups like it has for TV LAND stuff. Doesn't hurt to dream

smjasmin says:

Great read! It is only through the community continuing to come together that we are able to accomplish these feats!

Steve says:

Nice campaign.

Chris Kummer says:

Shhhhh, you're letting the secret out...That read sent me shivers!

AJ says:

Spoken so beautifully and so TRUE! I am PROUD to call Atlanta my home for myself and my business! Thanks for sharing.

Man, if I didn't already live here, I'd want to after reading this! Well said, Bryan. Couldn't agree more.

I agree

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Written by
Brian Easter