What’s the buzz with Atlanta? What is driving economic development in this city, and why should we be paying attention?
Atlanta is the third fastest growing metro region in the nation, now weighing in at almost 5 million people. Jump started by a reinvestment in downtown Atlanta for the 1996 Summer Olympics, the growth we see today has made the city home to startups and Fortune 500 companies including Mailchimp, Home Depot, UPS, and Delta. Atlanta boasts the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which contributes to the city’s business-friendly character. The city is an important enclave for black business owners and entrepreneurs: 31% of metro area businesses are black-owned. Flagship initiatives like the Aerotropolis and the Atlanta BeltLine are bringing new life and economic vigor through creative new partnerships, business models, and comprehensive master plans designed to support the vitality of Atlanta’s residents and industries.
In thinking about inclusive economic development, however, we have to ask: who is missing from this picture and who is at the table? How are Atlanta's leading organizations working together to impact change? A closer look at Georgia Tech’s massively successful engineering programs shows, for example, that of approximately 30,000 students, only 42 graduated from Atlanta public high schools -- a concern the university is taking active steps towards addressing. Throughout the conference, Karp Strategies was blown away by the examples of partnerships and deep, cross-sector collaboration. From Delta connecting with middle schoolers to the dozens of organizations working together to assess access issues around workforce development challenges, Atlantans demonstrated that MANY parties need to be at the table to ensure equity, and in many cases, we need to make the table bigger to ensure we all fit.