Large technology companies are opening offices in Atlanta in hopes of leveraging the technology talent in the city, especially the black talent.
Silicon Valley-based Apple and Google parent Alphabet as well as Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft have all established themselves in Atlanta in recent years.
With headquarters near San Francisco, payment giant Visa will also open a new office in Atlanta later this year, and its chief diversity officer will be based there, focusing on building relationships with various start-ups and workers.
“We know our customer base at all levels includes the black community, and we’re not pale in favor of the black community in our workforce,” Visa’s diversity manager Michelle Gethers-Clark told CNBC.
Atlanta-based Georgia Tech produces the most technology graduates a year in the United States, according to research firm CBRE, which listed Atlanta as the eighth best city to find technology talent in a 2021 report.
Over the past five years, Atlanta has seen a 15% growth in technology jobs, comparable to other notable technology cities – 16% for the San Francisco Bay Area and 10% for Austin, Texas, according to CBRE.
“Atlanta is uniquely ready to rewrite what technology should look like,” said Nakia Melecio, whose start-up catalyst iDesignproject is located in the city. “We have such a robust, inviting ecosystem that makes sure that when we bring in black technological talents, they know who the players are, they know what resources are available to them, and we make sure that they actually can grow. “
There is a wide range of tech incubators, accelerators and innovation centers in the greater Atlanta area that provide support, mentorship and networking opportunities for start-ups, including Atlanta Tech Village, Atlanta Tech Park and Propel, an HBCU tech hub supported by Apple and Atlanta-based power company Southern Co.
More than a dozen businesses started or based in Atlanta have grown to valuations over the last decade over $ 1 billion, the threshold for so-called unicorn status.
Among them is the digital asset marketplace Bakkt, which was listed in 2021; small business data provides Kabbage, which was acquired by American Express last year; and the planning platform Calendly, which now has a valuation of more than $ 3 billion.
Calendly founder Tope Awotona, who is Black, said the success of his start-up and others has proven that technology can thrive in Atlanta.
“We’ve definitely seen a lot more investors come out to Atlanta to pick up companies,” Awotona told CNBC. “They’ve just seen a lot of activity with start-ups here in Atlanta.”
“It’s been really exciting to see it,” he added.