“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.
“The West End Mall Redevelopment Project is an example of everything a federal Opportunity Zone should be,” Von said in prepared statements that were part of a news release offering an update on the project. “Developers, city leaders, investors and communities across the country are trying to figure out how to make opportunity zones impactful,” Von said. “A growing number are looking at ways to get a financial return, and they want to make a difference. The redevelopment of the West End Mall is poised to be a national example of how to do just that.”
Dr. Eloisa Klementich, Invest Atlanta president and CEO, said the project will further her agency’s efforts to “foster equitable investment in the Southside” that’s geared to provide “access to jobs and affordable housing.”
ECP has spent the past year working with city council, engaging community leaders and the public, and developing a preliminary site master plan and design. “We have taken a unique approach to gaining support in an opportunity zone,” says Gravel. “Rarely in the opportunity zone sector do you have a supportive community, an engaged local government and the attention of national investors. But our vision for West End has successfully secured support and interest from all three. We did this by prioritizing community engagement, bringing leaders to the table early on, and pitching strategic investors first to become anchors in the deal.”
“…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.”