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Atlanta Outpaces Nation in Tech Talent Growth

Software developers, IT support personnel and other tech workers have streamed into Atlanta at a staggering rate over the last five years, cementing the city’s status as a top 10 technology mecca in the U.S., according to the latest Tech Talent report from commercial real estate company CBRE.

Atlanta now ranks 9th among the 50 markets that the company surveyed, moving up one spot from the 2015 report. That rise in the rankings was prompted by 46.7 percent growth in total tech occupations locally since 2010. That far outpaces the national average of 27 percent increases in tech job growth for the last five years.

Christian Devlin with CBRE in Atlanta“Atlanta is just in a great place right now,” said Christian Devlin, vice president in CBRE’s media and technology practice. “There’s a lot of momentum around the tech community, and what I like about this report is that it points to a new perspective on that growth – not just talent.”

Those other factors include a continued low cost of doing business in Atlanta, the high concentration of millennials in the city and a No. 3 ranking when it comes to educational attainment of workers. “Those are all the ingredients for being a top tech market,” Devlin said.

The local highlights from the 2016 CBRE Tech Talent Report:

  • 74.5 percent of tech workers moving to Atlanta since 2010 identified as software developers/programmers; 40.5 percent work in computer support/systems/databases.
  • CBRE’s tracking of non-tech workers at tech companies since 2010 had more evidence of Atlanta as a sales/marketing hub: A whopping 76 percent said they were in marketing while 69 percent worked in sales.
  • Are any local tech graduates sticking around? 26,285 people in Atlanta graduated with tech-related degrees from 2010-2014. The city added 39,710 technology jobs from 2011-2014, resulting in a local “brain gain” of 13,425.
  • 48 percent of the Atlanta population over 25 have bachelor’s degrees or higher. Only Seattle and Washington D.C. ranked higher.
  • Even though the city lost 10 percent of its millennial-age workers from 2009-2014, it still ranks 8th among the top 50 markets for millennial concentration (those ages 20-29 living in downtown areas).

The San Francisco Bay area, Washington D.C., Seattle, New York and Austin are the top 5 tech markets in the country according to CBRE. Dallas-Ft. Worth, Boston, Raleigh-Durham, Atlanta and Baltimore round out the top 10.

The CBRE report gives additional insight into how the tech boom is affecting the availability of Atlanta office space, and what building owners are doing to try to attract startups, Devlin said. Even though there has been significant office growth here, Atlanta remains a big market in terms of inventory. Yet that supply is rapidly dwindling in and around Midtown, now seen as the center of Atlanta’s tech community due to the proximity of Georgia Tech and nearby incubators/co-working spaces.

“This town is on fire, and it’s certainly getting tighter in Midtown,” Devlin said. “Everybody wants to be there. But just another mile away (towards downtown), you’ve got lots more options. Overall there’s buoyancy in the market and tech companies will find options in the next couple of years.”

Some of those options involve older buildings that are getting tech company-friendly renovations from their owners. Devlin expects more demand for the “live/work/play” environments favored by millennial-age workers, citing recent experience in San Francisco with the gentrification of the area south of Market Street thanks to startups relocating there.

Those who own older buildings in Atlanta “are starting to retrofit their lobbies and create special spaces in their buildings to attract creative tech centers,” Devlin said. “Maybe before they were putting in conference centers. Now it’s a large room with ping-pong tables. It’s more collaborative and tech-friendly, which is a great shift.”

When it comes to new developments, “they are very specifically designing buildings to attract tech companies,” Devlin added.

The war for talent in Atlanta is heading into a new phase, once that doesn’t just involve startup companies. Local Fortune 500 firms like Home Depot, Coca-Cola, Turner and others are already deep into their plans to acquire more tech talent. “Having come from San Francisco, I feel you have more competition here from Fortune 500s for tech jobs, whereas if you’re in the Valley, the competition you’re worried about are more the (industry) darlings,” Devlin said, referring to the likes of Uber and Airbnb.CBRE Atlanta Spotlight

[header image: Terminus team, sourced from the Atlanta Tech Village]

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