“We definitely lost out on compelling talent,” says Mr. Walker, 36 years old. He decided to move his family—and his company—to the majority-Black city of Atlanta instead. In recent years, companies have moved their headquarters out of the suburbs and downtown to court younger workers. Now more companies are adding new office footprints as a way to recruit ethnically diverse talent, too. Atlanta, in particular, has drawn a number of boldfaced names, many in tech. Microsoft Corp. is investing $75 million in an Atlanta facility it says will create 1,500 jobs. Alphabet Inc.’s Google is investing more than $25 million there this year, expanding its existing three-floor office to a new location where the company will eventually occupy 19 floors.
San Francisco-based Airbnb said Atlanta can help it improve its workforce diversity. It joins Microsoft, Apple, Comcast and other tech companies to choose Atlanta for expansions, new partnerships and charitable giving recently, with much of the focus on the city’s Black workforce. Airbnb wants to increase underrepresented minorities to 20% of its U.S workforce by 2025, up from 12% now, according to Laphonza Butler, the company’s public policy director. Airbnb also wants women to make up half its global workforce by 2025, up from about 47% now. “We wanted to set our expansion roots in a city with leaders who are committed to economic empowerment,” Butler said in an interview.
“…how can technology become more diverse and welcoming to underrepresented groups? The answer may be where few are looking—the city of Atlanta. Some 2,482 miles outside of Silicon Valley, Atlanta is a technological powerhouse—with a growing focus on the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence. Blessed with excellent institutions of higher learning like Georgia Tech, Emory, Morehouse, and Spelman, and with a robust private sector, Atlanta’s tech scene is also a rarity: a hotbed of diverse innovation.”
“If I was looking to take on a new tenancy in a building, I would want to know what does the landlord offer the employees, what are the community links they have in place, what kind of a landlord am I investing in?” Google DeepMind Central Support Manager Emma Galal told the audience at Bisnow’s Office leasing and Development event in September… “If you were to ask any business what their biggest challenge is at the moment, they would say diversity and inclusion, and making the most inclusive office you can,” she said.
His story is now Atlanta folklore, how a young, aspirational fellow with a simple yet outlandish idea could engender such change. Twenty years ago this month, Gravel turned in his thesis, which proposed that a loop of 22 miles of mostly abandoned rail lines be repurposed as transit lines connecting neighborhoods.
On Wednesday, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the Rockefeller Foundation announced a partnership to help encourage socially conscious investment in Atlanta’s 26 opportunity zone neighborhoods, and to reduce the risk of displacement of longtime residents and businesses. A significant part of the partnership is a $1 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.
Donray spent his first act building a successful career in the music industry, managing artists such as The Roots, Cody Chestnutt, and Outkast. Donray’s most recent venture through his recently founded Elevator City Partners is the redevelopment of West End Mall with co-founding partner, Ryan Gravel.
One of the first significant projects beginning to take shape is a revitalization of the aging Mall West End. … If projects like Gravel and Von’s are successful over the long-term, then it could be a model for others who want to invest in distressed locations in the city.
For minorities and female developers, “access to capital has been the biggest challenge,” said Peebles, who has been an outspoken advocate for diversity in the industry. In addition to supplying capital, Peebles said his company will look at ways to support the emerging developers. Through co-developing or partnerships, he hopes the fund will “help mitigate risk and help them grow quicker.”