Editor’s Note: This post is written by David Rubenstein, executive managing director of Savills Studley
If there was anything to be learned by attending Venture Atlanta this month, it was that there is a substantial appetite for investment coming into Atlanta specifically because of its robust technology ecosystem.
Shortly after the event, GE officially announced that Atlanta was chosen for its GE Digital division, providing just one more example of the kind of high-quality investment I predict will continue to flood into this market. GE joins the ranks of numerous other established and start-up companies looking to leverage the city’s unique combination of superior talent, infrastructure, and governmental support. For example, Honeywell will likely choose Atlanta for its $10-billion Home and Buildings Technologies Center and fintech giant Global Payments has already announced it will expand into Buckhead next year. Smaller companies are also impacting the market, such as mLevel, OneTrust, N3 and Ingenious Med who have expanded their presence in town.
From fintech and cybersecurity to CRM and healthcare IT, Atlanta’s robust technology ecosystem has positioned the city as one of the nation’s leading destinations for companies seeking to invest in innovation centers. Furthermore, when considering personnel and real estate costs, Atlanta still represents a relative value compared to other technology centers around the country. The potential for future growth is limitless.
According to the Technology Association of Georgia, “Georgia’s invested venture capital increased more than 70 percent in 2015 to reach $836.1 million. Even with that, Georgia’s share of the U.S. venture capital market was only 1.4 percent.” As smaller, less established companies mature, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see these numbers increase, both in totals and as a percentage.
As an example of how important this growth is from a total market perspective, growing technology firms have played an integral role in the absorption of Atlanta office space. In 2010, technology firms leasing 50,000 square feet or more comprised approximately 20 percent of the Atlanta’s office lease transactions. Now, technology represents nearly 45 percent of those transactions. With less than two percent of the U.S. venture capital market currently coming into Georgia, there is room to run and for Atlanta to capture a bigger piece of the economic pie.
Healthcare IT alone represents a sizable opportunity. The Metro Atlanta Chamber notes that the “Georgia-based health IT sector employs over 16,000 people in the state and the sector’s primary businesses are growing at a 40 percent rate. Of companies included in the study, 57 percent anticipate expanding over the next two years, with 75 percent expecting to add Georgia-based employees.” With substantial new changes to the Affordable Care Act likely to affect the entire industry, healthcare IT will be primed to produce new ideas and technologies that could eventually create new businesses and, importantly, more jobs.
Similarly, cybersecurity is yet another sector in which Atlanta is well-positioned to both support and benefit from. Georgia’s cybersecurity industry generates nearly $5 billion in annual revenue, according to Georgia.org, and the state is home to more than 115 companies including major players like IBM, Dell, Verisign, and VMware AirWatch. As this industry becomes more complex, new innovative ideas will be the foundation for yet another round of growth, which will undoubtedly have a positive impact on Atlanta.