Atlanta has an amazing resource in Tech Square, on the outer edge of Georgia Tech’s campus in Midtown. Tech Square has all the amenities wanted in a startup hub: highly ranked engineering school, great walkability for serendipitous interactions, easy proximity to public transportation including a subway station, many restaurants, tons of creative-class jobs, Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, the ATDC incubator, and the co-working space Hypepotamus (more Midtown benefits from @rkischuk).
ATDC, the Advanced Technology Development Center (not the Atlanta Technology Development Center as many people think), has great office space that’s subsidized by the university and month-to-month leases — perfect for startups. In addition, the Tech Square area is an empowerment zone meaning it qualifies for a $2,500 tax credit for each new employee hired with a salary ~30% higher than the county average (a salary of approximately $65,000 or higher qualifies). With all this said, there’s a high quality problem in that there’s no office space left, a waiting list for future space, and you can’t get on the waiting list unless you’re an ATDC Select company (based on company progress and likelihood of building a sustainable business). Also, the space isn’t designed for startups that have broken through and are starting to scale (e.g. once you hit reached a certain employee size or have been there three years, whichever comes first, you usually have to leave).
The solution is to buy the large, empty lot next to the parking deck that serves Tech Square and turn it into a physical Atlanta Startup Village. Much like an Olympic Village, this would be custom designed to help foster the goal of building a larger, more vibrant startup community.
Here are some ideas for the physical Atlanta Startup Village:
- Large multi-story complex like the American Tobacco Campus in Durham, NC
- Loft-style space with tall ceilings and exposed bricks and beams
- Communal outdoor space with a park-like setting
- Several multi-purpose event facilities
- Roof top balcony for tenants and events
- Octane coffee shop
- Mellow Mushroom restaurant
- General Assembly-like education and co-working space
- A mix of seed stage, early stage, and growth stage companies
- Affordable gigabit fiber internet access and WiFi
The physical Atlanta Startup Village is a complement to Tech Square and sets the stage for an even stronger and more vibrant tech startup community.
What else? What would you add or change about the physical Atlanta Startup Village idea?