I was originally going to leave this as comment to Jeff’s What’s up Atlanta? post, but my thoughts aren’t really clear on the subject, and I felt I was a little impolite to ramble on somebody else’s blog.
I find it pretty cool that the leaders in the technology community in Atlanta are getting together and trying to make it a more vibrant place to do neat things that might pay the bills. However, I think focusing on people who have decided to make Atlanta their home is getting involved too late in the game. For Atlanta to really become a preeminent player in the national startup market, the community has to attract and keep young talent that is still evaluating where to live and what to do.
Part of the reason Silicon Valley and Boston gather a lot of interest from investors is because they’re both places that attract smart people. The cream of my high school’s crop (remember I’m from the Chicago area) that were looking to go out of the region were mostly thinking New England and California. Stanford, Harvard, and MIT were all popular destinations. Two out of a class of 600 ended up in Georgia. Effectively, you’ve now got a positive feedback loop. Talented kids go to these places, start companies while in school, make their home there, and get rich there. When it comes time to invest some of that money, it only makes sense that they’d put it back into the community that gave them their start, thereby creating opportunity for the next generation of talent.
One sense you get from the people that come from those regions is that the universities helped in getting their start. They provide avenues for people to get funds and they work on getting business people and technology people together, while they’re still the environment of the university. This is something you don’t hear from the people who’ve attended Georgia Tech or Emory. In order for Atlanta to really take off, we need to change this, and make these resources better. I’m not advocating that we reduce our institutions into trade schools, but rather help make them exciting places where things happen and opportunities present themselves. We need to help raise the national profile of these schools. Then we need to keep the talented folks here once they graduate.
These are my somewhat scattered thoughts on the subject and I don’t really have any solid data to support my hypothesis. Nor any idea of a plan to put in action. Who knows, maybe people are already doing this and I’m late to the party. End Ramble.
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