Tech, film industries grow as gentrification rises in Atlanta

Equitable benefits are needed for the changes and challenges that coincide with these thriving industries

Darin Givens
Jul 23 · 2 min read

Three headlines from this week caught my eye:

1.) “Atlanta is 4th fastest-growing tech market”
Atlanta Business Chronicle (paywalled)

2.) “Tech startups, Fortune 500 companies, and major film studios are minting new wealth in the ‘Hollywood of the South,’ and it’s creating a spike in luxury real estate”
Business Insider

3.) “Atlanta ranked fourth-fastest gentrifying city in U.S.”
AJC.com

After reading these articles, I had questions: How much work have local and state leaders put into creating the tech market and film industry in Atlanta, through tax incentives and more?

Have these same leaders put an equal amount of work into ensuring that, despite the inevitable gentrification that follows these high-paying jobs, benefits are equitable? Or ensuring that displacement of residents and cultures is prevented?

According to the Biz Chronicle, Atlanta gained 31,880 technology jobs between 2013 and 2018, luring people into the area for high-paying jobs. And with those high salaries, we get an increasing number of locals who are able to afford big rents and mortgage payments on pricey homes, and who can spend money on various amenities intown.

None of those things is problematic in itself. But within the context of a city that has been called the “capital of income inequality” according to multiple studies, there has to be an equal weight of priority and action towards protecting the vulnerable.

Given the income inequality in the city — one analysis found that Atlantans in the top income bracket make nearly 20 times more than those at the bottom — coupled with the consistent rise of high-paying jobs and higher rents, it should be unsurprising that the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s recent study finds that Atlanta is only behind Washington D.C., Portland and Seattle in terms of gentrification.

The Business Insider article has some stats that make the problem clear:

  • The number of people with a $30 million-plus net worth in the Atlanta metro area increased by nearly 22% from 2014 to 2017
  • From January 2014 to January 2019, median home prices in Atlanta have increased by 83%, compared to 38% nationally in the same time frame

This is the kind of major disruption that looks good to some people, but grim to the most vulnerable among us who are trying to stay near jobs on tight budgets while rents and sales prices for homes are rising. Equitable benefits are needed for the changes and challenges that coincide with these thriving industries.

Darin Givens

Written by

ThreadATL co-founder: http://threadatl.org || Advocacy for good urbanism in Atlanta || atlurbanist -at- gmail.com

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