You might have heard the trendy terms “beta-plus” or “beta+” or “Live In a Beta+ City” tossed around in the media or in casual conversation lately. But what exactly does “beta+” mean? And what really makes a Beta+ City, anyway? And why should YOU want to live (and work) in one?
A Beta+ City is a place that makes a global impact on the entire world from multiple perspectives: business/commerce, research, technology, media, art, entertainment, culture, manufacturing, and more. Beta+ cities are often ranked as among the top 50 metro areas worldwide in all of these categories. Given these parameters, if you asked average citizens on the street to drop names of some well-known Beta+ cities, they might say New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, London, or maybe up-and-comers like post-Cold War Berlin or hipster meccas like San Francisco. But that short list is missing the mark—Beta+ cities are important global cities, but they aren’t necessarily household names. Instead, they are important regional cities just beginning to make their mark on the global marketplace. However, the lack of international brand recognition doesn’t diminish just how important Beta+ cities are. In fact, examples of Beta+ cities include Rome, Boston, and Athens, Greece. And Atlanta!
Wait a sec—Atlanta, you say? Really?
Believe it or not, Atlanta is the very definition of a Beta+ City. Ranked as one of the Top 20 global Beta+ cities in terms of GDP, technological innovation, and business growth, Atlanta’s diverse economy ranges from media/entertainment to medicine to aerospace to banking to IT. Not to mention transportation, shipping/logistics, pharmaceuticals/biotech, data management/processing, major government agencies, food/beverage, home construction, and much more. After all, Atlanta is home to a lot more than just its most famous export, Coca-Cola.
Think CNN and TurnerMedia—including all of the latter’s other premium broadcasting brands like TNT, CartoonNetwork, TBS, and TruTV. Other blue-chip companies based in Atlanta include shipping giant UPS, home builders Pulte Homes and Beazer Homes, Carter’s (kids’ clothing), and credit-card payment processor First Data Corporation. Other corporate/government household names in Atlanta include Delta Air Lines, NCR, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). SunTrust Bank and Home Depot, plus there are hundreds of emerging biotech/pharma companies, digital tech startups, and other small businesses galore. With a GDP of $385 billion—Atlanta’s GDP ranks 10th in the nation—and counting, the world’s busiest international airport by passenger traffic, and the still-beating heart of the civil rights movement begun by none other than Dr. Martin Luther King and Ralph David Abernathy, it should be no surprise that a progressive, ever-evolving, business-friendly city like Atlanta should count among the top 20 Beta+ cities worldwide. Even Atlanta’s name originates from its long history as a railroad hub, beginning with its position as the Western and Atlantic Railroad‘s local transfer depot before the Civil War. Given its strategic location as the transportation hub of the Southeast, it was clear from its earliest days that Atlanta was—and is—destined for greatness.
This “can-do” Atlanta attitude is reflected strongly in the personal work ethic of Don Dodds, Managing Partner and Chief Marketing Strategist for Atlanta’s premier boutique marketing firm, M16 Marketing. “I’m a problem solver,” says Dodds. “I have zero tolerance for excuses. My family motto is, ‘Good better best…never let it rest until your good becomes better and your better becomes your best.” Dodds has incorporated this upbeat, business-friendly attitude into everything M16 Marketing does, including its branding. “Relationships are an important part of what we’re building at M16 and that is reflected in our logo. We focus on strategy and helping our clients grow their business.”
What do you think of when you think of Atlanta? If you’re not a native, you might think of stereotypical Atlanta symbols like Gone With the Wind, the Atlanta Braves, and juicy Georgia peaches. Atlanta was the city that Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman burned down on his famous March to the Sea. Atlantans are not easily defeated, either—this enterprising city and its tough, innovative businesspeople (including former slaves and their descendants) rebuilt Atlanta from the ground up in the Civil War’s aftermath. In the decades following the Civil War period, the brave souls who set out to re-establish war-ravaged Atlanta quickly established their hometown as the unofficial capital of the “New South“—an honor it never really lost. If anything, that moniker is truer than ever in 21st-century Atlanta.
In fact, you might say that Atlanta has never stopped being rebuilt, re-imagined, and re-invented. With more than 20 colleges and universities in the greater Atlanta area, The Big Peach (or ATL, or simply “The A”) is one of the world’s biggest talent engines, with thousands of bright young graduates (the very definition of the “creative class“) choosing to live and work permanently in the same exciting city that educated them and prepared them for career readiness. Atlanta is also known as The Hollywood of the South, with scores of TV shows and movies shot there annually (including Black Panther, The Walking Dead, and nearly all of Tyler Perry’s shows and movies). “Another reason I love Atlanta is because I am inspired by all the incredible creative media work I see, including the latest amazingness called Tyler Perry Studios,” says Dodds.
Atlanta is also home to some of the world’s most famous musicians, past and present. (Killer Mike, Ludacris, TLC, Usher, and Whitney Houston, anyone? TI, Outkast and Goodie Mob are more contemporary Atlanta favorites, while old-school music devotees will love Atlanta’s very own Black Crowes, Indigo Girls, and John Mayer. And let’s not forget Ray Charles.)
From Peachtree Street downtown out to posh, hipster-friendly Buckhead to the campuses of Georgia State, Emory U, Spelman College and Morehouse, (and University of Georgia is just a few hours away in Athens, home to alt-rock legends REM) you could say with authority that Atlanta is about as young and hip as any city gets.
The bustling college culture in Atlanta has inspired Dodds and M16 Marketing to offer scholarships, internships, and other professional-development support to the next generation of business professionals. “M16 provides scholarships for college students, as well as paid internship opportunities,” Dodds notes. “Plus we invest in start up businesses, providing marketing support and business consulting to help emerging companies scale their businesses,” In this way, M16 Marketing is contributing to the growth of Atlanta’s young business scene while also potentially developing future clients.
So we’ve established that “Hotlanta” definitely has some major “cool” factor. But what does that have to do with M16 Marketing? Why did one of the fastest-growing marketing firms in the Southeast choose Atlanta as its home base? Simply put, M16 Marketing is a web design and SEO agency dedicated to relationship-building with innovative companies looking to grow rapidly and make a global impact. Atlanta is arguably one of the best cities in the United States (if not the world) to do just that via its red-hot startup culture. You might say M16 Marketing and Atlanta go together like Georgia peaches and cream.
M16’s business consulting and marketing clients run the gamut of Atlanta’s go-getting business climate, ranging from national household names like John Deere and AT&T, regional behemoths like Georgia Tech, Georgia Power and the State of Georgia, to local companies like Active Pest Control and multiple boutique law firms and startups. More recently, M16 Marketing has attracted international clients like Samahita Retreat, a wellness resort in Thailand, with its trademark web design and online marketing strategic services.
Why Atlanta? A Big City with Small-Town Business Character Atlanta is a lot more than just the Georgia state capitol or a hotbed for cool-factor startups and entertainment. It’s a large, cosmopolitan city, cultural center, and sits at the intersection of multiple major interstate highways. With an estimated 2018 population of 498,044, Atlanta is also the 37th most-populous city in the United States within the city limits. But Atlanta’s heart and soul makes the Big Peach seem much larger in scope, especially since the broader Atlanta metro area is 9th-largest in the nation—with 5.9 million people in Atlanta’s metro area including Fulton County (where Atlanta is the county seat as well as the state capitol). The Atlanta metro area also spills over into neighboring DeKalb County to the east, which features a satellite campus of the venerable University of Georgia.
Atlanta’s formidable economic engine is fueled by its access to many of the nation’s finest universities, including the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), a major research university (frequently ranked in the Top 5 American public universities) in Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood, which is also the center of Atlanta’s buzzing fine and performing arts scene. Georgia Tech’s prominent degree programs in engineering, design, business, the sciences, and architecture all feed top-tier talent into Atlanta’s Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and innovative startups alike. The University of Georgia’s main campus is 90 minutes away in Athens, but in addition to its DeKalb County Extension program, UGA also houses its Terry College of Business in the prestigious Buckhead neighborhood and UGA’s Atlanta Gwinnett Campus is housed in the Intellicenter, a high-tech business hub.
Atlanta’s HBCUs, Top-Tier Medical Institutions, and Related High-Tech Innovation Lead the Nation
As previously noted, Atlanta is one of the world’s best cities for tech startups, and the city’s wealth of prestigious historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) is a big reason for this ongoing high-tech business success. The Atlanta University Center hosts the largest contiguous consortium of historically black colleges in the nation, comprising Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Morehouse School of Medicine. Atlanta also hosts a satellite campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design, which has helped revitalize Atlanta’s art and design community, attracting businesses such as marketing/advertising, product design, and collectors of fine art alike. Atlanta and nearby Athens also boast multiple ABA-accredited law schools, including Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, Emory University School of Law, Georgia State University College of Law and University of Georgia School of Law—helping develop a new generation of attorneys to support both Atlanta’s dynamic business community and serving as an essential present (and future) source of civil and criminal jurisprudence.
Dodds and his colleagues at M16 Marketing especially value the more diverse workforce that Atlanta’s higher-education landscape can provide. “We believe a smart, diverse team is crucial to innovation, growth and long-term success. As America’s culture changes it’s important to have genuine insights into an evolving America and the diverse world in which we live,” says Dodds.
And with healthcare services one of the most reliably growing industries in the nation, Atlanta also leads the entire Southeast with Emory U’s Emory Healthcare, the largest health care system in Georgia, which provides top-quality healthcare to the entire Georgia region and innovative medical research to benefit the whole world.
Simply put, Atlanta is a Beta+ city whose business and innovation influence will only continue to grow.