I came to Atlanta for the first time in 1988 to visit Morehouse College as a pre-engineering student. I can remember the skyline being very different from the way it is now; Atlantic Station hadn’t been built yet, the Olympics hadn’t taken place and where our home in Cherokee County is probably had more trees than houses. Fifteen years later in 2003, I returned to the city for the Fourth of July celebration at Piedmont Park. To me, this was a different city: Atlanta appeared to be a growing, thriving city that was full of opportunity, and I wanted part of it. Six months later, my wife and I moved here and have never looked back
Brian Easter, CEO of the Nebo Agency and Choose Atlanta tells a similar story. He saw opportunity in Atlanta. He saw the big brands, the talent pool and a warm and inviting community. He could see a future in Atlanta that he, like me, wanted to be part of. He also saw that people and companies were missing out, often passing Atlanta to work with firms in other states.
Why is that? It seems that Atlanta has every bit of the talent and opportunity – perhaps more – than other cities around the country. It has no shortage of resources. It is the natural hub between the East and the West. Why are people reaching outside the City when there is so much to offer right here?
“The problem seems to be,” Brian relates, “that while Atlanta is a great city, Atlanta doesn’t have a story to tell.” It simply doesn’t have that story that everyone can buy into. It doesn’t have a unifying message that draws Atlantans together to say, “This is MY City!”
Enter Choose Atlanta.
Brian got together with a few of his other CEO buddies one day, and the topic of Atlanta’s talent pool and the explosion of the digital industry in the city came up. They, too, wanted to know why companies in Atlanta seek out agencies in other cities for their digital work and why Atlanta’s talent continually leaves the city despite the great opportunities, weather and culture.
They decided to do something about it.
They put together a task force of influential people to explore the reasons for this. They spoke to many more people, asking them their thoughts and for their ideas. The resounding response was that Atlanta’s story needed to be told. People need to know WHY they should work, play and live in the City. People need to know about the great resources around the City for startups as well as for fortune 100 companies. They need to know WHY they should Choose Atlanta as a great place to do business. Families need to know WHY they should Choose Atlanta as a place to have their families and raise their kids.
Choose Atlanta (www.chooseatl.com) is the organization that was born from this conversation, The grassroots organization exists for the purpose of telling Atlanta’s story and unifying the City under one catch-all motto. You’ll see from their website that they truly capture in words and action what it means to be a citizen of this world-class city. They share the vision for a City that some could might describe as a sleeping giant, full of great potential and opportunity.
ChooseAtlanta.com casually boasts mind-blowing figures such as Atlanta being the home of sixteen Fortune 500 companies (including six Fortune 100 companies), having the world’s busiest airport, the 4th largest film industry in the United States (5th in North America) and 263,000 high-tech jobs (at the time of publication), but then, goes on to remind readers about Atlanta startups such as Coca-Cola, UPS, Chick-Fil-a, the Atlanta Bread Company, and others that have become national or global brands.
Consider this…if you weren’t already impressed, Atlanta has a GSP (Gross State Product) upwards of $400 billion, making it the 15th largest economy in the world…larger than that of many countries. For startups, Atlanta has coveted fertile ground with some of the best incubators in the world and soon, the largest digital entrepreneurship center in the Southeast.
However, the task force behind Choose Atlanta sees Atlanta as even more than big commerce and business; Atlanta offers world-class universities, great weather, superb dining, a distinctive culture and many activities and events for people and families in all walks of life.
Choose Atlanta’s goals are simple:
1. Tell the story of Atlanta’s thriving digital industries and help attract the creative class.
2. Remind people that live here why they love it.
Seems like a pretty simple yet catchy, straightforward approach. When asked about the “catch phrase” that would be used, Brian stated, “Choose Atlanta,” and continued on to describe the simplicity of the phrase “Choose Atlanta” and how it can be a personal story told by many individuals, companies and other organizations about why they “Choose Atlanta” and why others might, too.
Why did you Choose Atlanta? What is your story? What drew you here? Was it the weather? The culture? The food? Employment opportunities? All of the above…or something else entirely?
Perhaps, as the website goes on to describe, with Atlanta’ colorful history and a brilliant future, Choose Atlanta will remind and inspire people to tell their stories and take advantage of all of what the city has to offer. Perhaps Choose Atlanta will get the message to the world that there is no better place to live, work, play or start a business than Atlanta, Georgia.