Kwanza Hall took off his tie at the Choose ATL campaign launch Wednesday night in an effort to get more comfortable with the crowd at Buckhead’s Atlanta Tech Village, which was full of more than 300 tech-minded Atlantans looking to tout their city as the place for digital innovation and entrepreneurship.
Despite his laid-back approach, the District 2 Atlanta City Councilman said he is supporting the Choose ATL campaign to show the city means business when it comes to establishing a reputation as a digital hub on the same tier as New York and Silicon Valley.
Hall told attendees he joins many of the city’s elected officials in supporting the “high-growth economy” that the digital industry provides. From the campaign’s sponsor, Nebo, a west Midtown digital advertising company as well as countless other startups and digital giants, like Midtown-based Engauge, tech-minded businesses are putting Atlanta on the map.
“The next wave is ours,” Hall said. “That next wave is in our hands because we have a lot of unique things in our city, a lot of great assets. …We have to use our strengths, work across lines and begin to build a great future as team.”
Adam Harrell, Nebo’s creative lead for the Choose ATL campaign, said with the support of in-kind donations from more than two dozen Atlanta businesses and organizations, the Nebo team created a website, started an Instagram campaign using the hashtag #chooseATL and worked with videographers to produce a video “love letter” to the city that tells the unique stories of people who call Atlanta home. Over the next year, Atlantans will see more than 50 billboards throughout the city put up by Clear Channel in support of the grassroots campaign.
Harrell said the goal of the project was to sing Atlanta’s praises to industry professionals throughout the nation and remind Atlantans why they love to live here, with the focus on both the economic opportunities throughout the city and the quality of life it provides.
“Everyone knows the New York scene and the story of what’s going on in San Francisco,” he said. “But Atlanta, were not telling our story very well. We’re not spreading the word. … We thought that if we did that, we could help attract the creative class. The creative class is what will help build this economy, help build the city and drive the next big thing.”
Joe Koufman, senior vice president at Engauge, said his company wanted to get on board with the initiative because they were tired of losing employees to other cities, despite a low cost of living, several universities and countless restaurants, parks and recreational activities. He said if more people knew Atlanta companies boasted $1 billion in technology exits in the last two years, tech professionals would take the city a little more seriously.
“There’s an exciting startup culture and there is money to be made,” Koufman said.