Clip: Business time in Hotlanta

How to Start a Business in Atlanta

Despite its laid-back vibe, Atlanta is considered a rising star of the business world. Here’s how to navigate its challenges.

Inc. Magazine, 7/16/10:

Octane, Atlanta’s popular and trendy independent coffee shop, has a growing reputation as a piazza of caffeinated creative minds and a haven for innovators. Sometimes customers treat owner Tony Riffel like a business consultant, seeking his suggestions for a graphic designer or other skilled craftsperson.

“I can just look around the room and point out three or four people,” Riffel said. “Atlanta’s kind of like a big small town. You run into people you know all the time. It doesn’t feel nearly as big as it actually is.”

Atlanta is one of the fastest growing cities in the South, and for much of the last decade was the fastest growing metropolitan area in the whole country as its population sprouted 20 percent between 2000 and 2006. It stands out from neighboring states as a technology hub full of university and private-sector incubators, along with a strong civic pride in the city that’s become the face of the New South.

Business owners and experts tick off the reasons they consider the city a rising star in the business world: the climate, the accessibility to the world’s busiest airport and fewer regulatory restrictions than other places such as New York or California.

But it’s not without its share of challenges. The sprawling metro area and lack of public transit can make traffic a crippling factor. The city has been forced to recreate the urban feel in digital spaces and hubs like Riffel’s coffee shop.
Atlantans frequently use the phrase “bootstrapping” to talk about self-reliance, but only because they’ve become used to a dearth of outside investment. While local restaurant and arts scenes are booming, several high-profile technology companies have picked up and left town for what they consider more nurturing environments on the West Coast or elsewhere.

For those who like Atlanta’s lower level of intensity compared to other cities, the future, they say, is promising enough to make the nickname “Hotlanta” apply to more than just the weather.

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