Entrepreneurs are attracted to various cities and metropolitan areas for different reasons and to attain various goals. With its low-cost of living, family-friendly city, as well as strong local, state and federal tax incentives, among other benefits, Atlanta considers itself to rank among the cities with a strong offering for entrepreneurs looking for long-term success (as opposed to a short-term "build it and sell it" mentality in Silicon Valley, for instance.
Invest Atlanta, the city's re-launched economic development authority was established in January 2012 to strengthen Atlanta's economy and global competitiveness by creating increased opportunity for Atlanta citizens. The research-based organization focuses on residential, business and investment growth in the city. According to its Web site, initiatives include developing partnerships between public entities and private companies to accelerate job creation, neighborhood revitalization and entrepreneurship through bond financing, revolving loan funds, housing financing, tax increment financing and tax credits. It also offers several business financing options for small businesses and entrepreneurs, including; a business improvement loan fund, the Phoenix Fund and the Opportunity Fund. "So what we really want is not only for people in Atlanta to be encouraged to start a business, but we also want people across the country [to know] entrepreneurship doesn't just happen in places like Silicon Valley and Boston and New York. We think Atlanta has got probably more than most cities," says Brian McGowan, president and CEO of Invest Atlanta. Atlanta is "one of those cities that really has a surprising base and advantage for small businesses and entrepreneurs," McGowan adds. "It really is a city that was built on innovation and entrepreneurism -- everything from Coca Cola (KO) to Delta (DAL) to CNN and Turner Broadcasting to Tyler Perry to Spanx." McGowan, who joined the agency earlier this year, comes with an impressive resume. He was previously the U.S. deputy assistant Secretary of Commerce and chief operating officer for the U.S. Economic Development Administration, among other positions. This summer, Invest Atlanta announced its Start Up Atlanta initiative, a Web-based platform that visually maps out resources such as incubators, accelerators and service providers, as well as connections to a support network for entrepreneurs to succeed in building a business in Atlanta. "Our first priority is how do we make it easy for an entrepreneurship to come here . . . and see all the things available," says Eloisa Klementich, Invest Atlanta's director of business development and head of the Startup Atlanta initiative. "Atlanta has a long history of being very friendly to business. This is really putting a bow around a lot of programs and initiatives that are already exciting, but to really try to tell the world Atlanta is a place where entrepreneurs are welcome," McGowan says. "We felt very strongly this is a way to create Atlanta's next chapter."