‘An overnight success 10 years in the making’: Atlanta is the future for Black leaders in tech
The Protocol article, "‘An overnight success 10 years in the making’: Atlanta is the future for Black leaders in tech," quoted Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Art Hopkins on why Atlanta is an emerging hub for Black leadership in tech. The article is excerpted below.
For more than a decade, Atlanta's leaders have liked to call the region "the tech capital of the South." This year, the tech industry is starting to see it the same way. VCs and companies like Google and Microsoft have recently made serious commitments to invest in the region, publicly acknowledging that the country's "Black mecca" is also the place where the industry can begin to fulfill its promises to create a more diverse, inclusive and innovative future.
It started in 2008, an unlikely beginning for a city's success story. The financial crisis devastated Atlanta just like every metropolitan area, but the disaster also laid bare untapped potential: Atlanta had the busiest airport in America; more Black college graduates than anywhere else in the country; practically limitless cheap land; the headquarters of Coca-Cola, Home Depot, UPS and a big chunk of Fortune 500 companies; friendly corporate tax and union policies; and the largest numerical population gains of any American city over the previous seven years. And so, when the country's richest and brightest turned their eyes to tech during the recovery from 2008, Atlanta's did the same.
The majority of Black people in the U.S. live in the South, and Atlanta is the unofficial capital of the region. "You're going to have a lot of people who frankly don't want to leave," said Art Hopkins, a tech company consultant for Russell Reynolds Associates who's based in Atlanta. "They like living there. Spoiler alert: Not everyone wants to move to Palo Alto."
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