“…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.”
Von is now in the process of acquiring the West End Mall and working with the community to plan a $400 million, multi-year, multi-phase overhaul into a walkable mixed-use development with retail, cultural, offices, residential spaces and a hotel. His business partner on the project is Ryan Gravel, the original visionary behind the Atlanta BeltLine. While each brings key connections and expertise to the project, neither has ever led a real estate development deal before. They’re jumping off together into the deep end of the economic development pool, and they’re expecting to get a boost from Opportunity Zones — the new investor tax break intended to encourage new investment in economically distressed areas. “The only thing I wish Opportunity Zones had was some sort of inclusion mindset like airport and state contracts have,” Von says. “Without that being mandated, we’re reverse-engineering that.”
“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.