03.11.2019

Goodbye, Silicon Valley, hello, Atlanta: Black entrepreneurs part of new migration to South

Kathryn Finney gives advice to founders at her BIG Incubator Program in Atlanta. Kathryn Finney gives advice to founders at her BIG Incubator Program in Atlanta. (Photo: Savannah Brock, for USA TODAY)

Over an iPad and a cup of tea, Marcus Blackwell Jr. is talking up his mobile app that uses music to help kids learn math. Sitting across from him at a sleek wood table is Jewel Burks Solomon who, after selling her startup to Amazon, invests time and money in helping other entrepreneurs make their mark in the tech industry. 

As Blackwell shows off how algebra formulas in Make Music Count play melodies and chords from popular hip-hop and pop songs, Solomon counsels him on everything from how to get exposure to how to land funding for his app.

This kind of informal coaching session happens hourly in cafes all over San Francisco and Palo Alto, California. The difference here: Nearly everyone in this room is black.

Welcome to the city that's emerging as the nation's black tech capital. For a growing number of African-Americans in the tech world, Atlanta is beckoning. Weary of coastal hubs that don't reflect America's growing diversity, they are packing up their lives and careers for a city with a rich history of entrepreneurship, a booming black middle class, affordable quality of life and a small but growing tech scene.

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