Last night Midtown took center stage at Midtown Dialogues: What’s Next for the Midtown Technology Ecosystem? hosted by the Midtown Alliance. We heard from the Midtown Alliance’s Kevin Green, Georgia Tech’s Stephen Fleming, Tech Square Lab’s Dr. Paul Judge, and Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Amanda Shailendra on their perspectives of the strengths of the Midtown Technology Ecosystem, the growth it has experienced, and what’s on the horizon.
The event kicked off by asking the panel where they saw Midtown presently and in the future. “It is easier to create the future than to predict the future,” Kevin explained. “The next 10 years in Atlanta are going to look completely different than the last 10; it is a constantly evolving city which is why it is so important to prepare now.” According to Paul, the secret for Midtown has been three things: “education, enterprises, and entertainment. Entertainment creates culture, which creates consumerism and drives technology.” On top of a having a diverse culture, Amanda explained Midtown supports many “innovative neighborhoods, IT centers, and unique corporate offices. It’s what drives our success as a city, and it creates a population that isn’t afraid to fail.”
Next Kevin asked “what one or two things will make Atlanta even more successful 10 years from now?” Stephen Fleming jumped in that he predicts high “growth of the area from The Varsity to The Federal Reserve” and he hopes for “more comprehensive neighborhood planning, and cooperation. ” Paul followed up with, “kids in Atlanta are no longer going to school to land jobs, they are going to school to create their own jobs.” Adding that “we have smart minds to solve big problems, that’s what differentiates us.”
The panel next opened up the floor for Q&A from the attendees. An audience member asked about opportunities in medical technology and Stephen explained that “integration facilities that support corporate, startup and medical organizations are helping to foster that tech collaboration and cooperation. Instead of it just being a job for the medical organization, all of Atlanta is getting involved, which is what drives other companies to have an interest in relocating to the city.” Next the sensitive subject of local funding came up… “with startups comes a need for capital funding. Do you see that as a limiting factor for Atlanta, who may have less to access money than other large cities?” For Paul, it’s not an issue of funding, “the hardest thing is finding talent- the valley is running out and Atlanta is rich in it. If you have a big idea you’re chasing, the funding will find you.”
The future development of Midtown is looking bright. Like the panel mentioned, the collaboration of all types of businesses, cooperation between neighboring cities and the support of the public is what will create a successful Atlanta 10 years down the road.