THE TECH­NOL­OGY CITY OF THE SOUTH

Al­pharetta is a fast-grow­ing, en­gag­ing city with a real sense of com­mu­nity & life­style

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At the height of the dot.com boom at the turn of the mil­len­nium, the city of Al­pharetta was wit­ness to a mod­ern-day gold rush, as tele­com com­pa­nies raced to lay down hun­dreds of miles of state-of-the-art fiber op­tic ca­bles all over the town, strate­gi­cally lo­cated just 22 miles out­side At­lanta.

Al­most 20 years later, this rapidly grow­ing city is con­tin­u­ing to reap the ben­e­fits of those vi­sion­ary in­vest­ments in su­per-fast com­mu­ni­ca­tions net­works. More than 640 tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies have cho­sen to call Al­pharetta home, in­clud­ing four of the 10 largest tech busi­nesses in Ge­or­gia. As well as giant con­glom­er­ates, in­creas­ing num­bers of start-ups are re­lo­cat­ing from Sil­i­con Val­ley to Al­pharetta, where ven­ture cap­i­tal funds last longer, there is a thriv­ing tal­ent pool of qual­i­fied per­son­nel, and the qual­ity of life is just as high as in Cal­i­for­nia.

“As well as our lead­er­ship in terms of tech­nol­ogy in­fra­struc­ture, we have cre­ated an en­vi­ron­ment here in which start-ups can thrive,” says David Belle Isle, the Mayor of Al­pharetta.

To en­hance the sup­port avail­able for en­trepreneurs, in 2015 the city of Al­pharetta and the Al­pharetta De­vel­op­ment Author­ity opened the Al­pharetta In­no­va­tion Cen­ter, which is cur­rently de­liv­er­ing more than 60 start-ups with co-work­ing spa­ces, meet­ing rooms, men­tor­ing and above all with a real sense of com­mu­nity.

“The Al­pharetta In­no­va­tion Cen­ter aims to pro­vide a plat­form for peo­ple to grow their busi­ness, make con­nec­tions, get men­tor­ship and train­ing, and then hope­fully stay here in Al­pharetta or the re­gion,” says Peter Tokar, the city’s Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Di­rec­tor. “We want Al­pharetta to be known as a city where in­no­va­tion hap­pens, around the coun­try, and hope­fully one day around the globe.”

Next year, the city will take a ma­jor step for­ward in its mis­sion of be­com­ing a truly global start-up hub, with the of­fi­cial open­ing of Al­pharetta’s very own con­fer­ence cen­ter. Lo­cated in the so-called “fiber­hood” of the city’s high-end Avalon district, the cen­ter is set to put Al­pharetta on the tech­nol­ogy con­fer­ence cir­cuit and at­tract even greater num­bers of start-ups to Ge­or­gia. Even be­fore the for­mal open­ing, con­fer­ences are al­ready be­ing planned for the agritech, fin­tech and health IT sec­tors.

As well as mak­ing Al­pharetta the go-to place in Ge­or­gia for tech­nol­ogy cor­po­ra­tions and en­trepreneurs, Mayor Belle Isle has also made it a pri­or­ity to build a real sense of com­mu­nity among the 65,000 peo­ple who live in the city. “We want to make Al­pharetta an ir­re­sistible city, a city that peo­ple love, feel con­nected to, feel their own and never want to leave,” Belle Isle says.

City au­thor­i­ties are con­nect­ing Al­pharetta’s var­i­ous leisure re­gions — Avalon, Haynes Bridge and the vi­brant down­town district— with multi-use trails and bi­cy­cle-shar­ing schemes. Dozens of new restau­rants and boutique stores are open­ing all over town, while ma­jor en­ter­tain­ment venues have also opened their doors to a pub­lic ea­ger to en­joy mu­sic and the arts.

As Al­pharetta be­comes an in­creas­ingly lively and en­gag­ing com­mu­nity, older mil­len­ni­als are now mov­ing here to start their own fam­i­lies. With four of the top 10 schools in Ge­or­gia serv­ing Al­pharetta, and thou­sands of new town­houses un­der construction, the city reg­u­larly tops the rank­ings of de­sir­able places to re­lo­cate.

“We have added a whole se­ries of com­mu­nity ameni­ties that make Al­pharetta more than just a great tech des­ti­na­tion,” Peter Tokar says. “It is also a very live­able city, with tons to do for ev­ery­body who wants to come here.”

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