It’s always fascinating to see a new part of the U.S. put itself on the map as a startup hub. While it’s never clear exactly what happens to spark this sort of thing, there are certain times when people simply seem to realize that a given city or state has become a thriving spot for new businesses. We’ve seen it happen in numerous cities in California; in Austin, Texas; in North Carolina’s Raleigh-Durham area; and in recent years, in Atlanta, Georgia too.
In this post we’re looking at five of the reasons that Atlanta belongs in these conversations.
1. A Thriving Tech Scene
“Startup” and “tech” don’t always go together. But at the same time, it’s difficult to identify a true startup hub in 2020 that doesn’t count tech as one of its most influential industries. As it happens, the tech sector in Atlanta has been on a steady rise, to the point that it’s now considered one of America’s top cities in this regard. In fact, last year a study on top tech cities cited by RollingOut included Atlanta in its top five.
The “Atlanta Tech Village” and other local hubs have been developing for a number of years now, and at this point can rightly be referred to as part of a thriving local industry. And as we see so often, this spike in tech activity appears to be contributing to a broader sense that Atlanta is now an attractive destination for new entrepreneurs and young talent.
2. A Friendly State for Startups
Atlanta’s emergence as a hot spot for startups is also partially due to the fact that Georgia generally offers a favorable climate for new companies. Specifically, founders looking to move past personal projects and sole proprietorships to set up state-recognized companies tend to have no trouble doing so in this state. A rundown on Georgia LLC registration by ZenBusiness outlines that this is one state in which the formal process runs smoothly. Business owners can register their companies online and quickly obtain LLC status — and the process for forming a corporation in Georgia is about that simple as well.
Those simple yet crucial factors are making it easier for people to start official businesses in Atlanta, and in Georgia more broadly. And on top of this, Atlanta happens to offer a number of handy resources for founders just starting out. Entities like the Atlanta Business League, the Georgia Small Business Administration, the Atlanta Small Business Development Center, and more can help to connect small business founders with information, financial resources, mentors, and other entrepreneurs — all making for a very supportive ecosystem.
3. Millennial Influence
Back in 2016, an Atlanta Magazine article on the city’s millennials told people to “make way” for the young and energetic generation coming of age. At that time there was a notable influx of millennials into the area’s economy, and frankly the article painted an uncertain picture of what that would mean. At that time, millennials had something of a mixed reputation — viewed as clever, resourceful, and essential, but also as unorthodox and unpredictable. In the years since though, young people have proven to be invaluable, and have propelled a small business (and tech) revolution in Atlanta. This has laid the foundation for the strong startup community Atlanta is today.
4. General Conditions for Business
This point is one that could mean any number of things. But when you look at the city of Atlanta in a broad and comprehensive manner, you can start to recognize a city that simply offers great living and working conditions for new businesses.
It’s a diverse and (as mentioned) relatively young city with a vibrant culture unto itself. It’s considered quite easy to live in, with big city features but relatively affordable lifestyle. There are already plenty of small businesses to be excited about. And on the more work-specific front, Atlanta also has a number of more specific perks — such as easy access to one of the busiest airports in the world, and a high prevalence of communal workspaces. Altogether, it’s simply difficult to come up with features of the city that aren’t attractive to young entrepreneurs and new businesses.
5. Active COVID Relief
Atlanta’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on small businesses also comes into play in this discussion. As many recall, relief offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration back in March was one of the first real signs that government intervention would be required to keep smaller companies afloat. In the many months that followed this relief though, the government was inconsistent at best at helping businesses in need.
In Atlanta though, local government has done a better job than most of supporting local companies. The launch of the Resurgence Grant Fund by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms back in August, for instance, allowed the city’s small business owners to apply online for up to $40,000 in aid (pulled from the federal CARES Act). While more relief will likely be needed, and business owners around the country have grown frustrated by inaction at the federal level, this grant fund was another indication of the kind of support Atlanta gives its small businesses.
When we look at all of these factors at once, it’s no wonder Atlanta has climbed the ranks among the nation’s startup hubs. And there’s a decent bet to be made that the city is not done improving and expanding on this from either.