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Airbnb Announces Major Tech Hub In Atlanta, Following In Microsoft's Wake

Atlanta has seen an explosion of companies opening offices in its confines in recent months.

Months removed from a wildly successful entry into the stock marketAirbnb has selected Atlanta as its East Coast tech hub in a move that will bring hundreds of jobs to the region.

Called the Atlanta Technical Hub, Airbnb plans on the facility being part of a longer-term commitment to the city, growing the Atlanta office into a “regional base for hundreds of technical and non-technical roles over time,” Airbnb said in a press release announcing the hub.

Airbnb's new Atlanta hub will be a focal point for the firm's product development teams and other roles, according to the release. The company didn't identify where it would open an office or how big it would be, but it said that any incentives it receives for the deal will be donated back to Atlanta.

“We intend to establish a physical space in Atlanta later this year,” the release reads. “If any economic incentives or credits are associated with the location, Airbnb will donate them back to the City of Atlanta for community impact initiatives.”

The company, which has 5.6 million active listings globally in 100,000 cities, said Atlanta's universities and Historically Black Colleges and Universities, such as Morehouse and Spelman colleges, were among the key factors in its decision to locate here, as well as the city's focus on diversity and inclusion and its creative culture. The statement echoed ones made by Microsoft President Brad Smith on Feb. 11 when his company announced a huge Atlanta expansion.

“If you can step back and really look at Microsoft's decision and what drove them to announce this large hub, I think it's a testament to the city as a whole and they certainly recognize the technology talent that is here in Atlanta,” Cousins Properties CEO Colin Connolly told stock analysts Feb. 12, a day after Microsoft's announcement. “They also recognize the diverse composition of the talent base in Atlanta.”

Airbnb was first moving forward on the tech hub in 2019, but the coronavirus pandemic iced those plans, it said. By May of 2020, Airbnb cut 25% of its workforce due to the economic downturn and the pandemic's overall effects on the travel and hospitality industry.

“As travel has rebounded, we realized that we have an opportunity to establish this technical hub more quickly than we anticipated and restarted conversations in Atlanta,” Airbnb's release read.

Microsoft vowed to invest in Atlanta's Westside, especially the Grove Park neighborhood, and throughout the wider city as it develops a new campus connected to Westside Park. Airbnb made a similar vow, including investing in job training programs and working with Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on the city's One Atlanta diversity and inclusion office.

The city department was established in 2018 in an effort to address issues such as affordable housing, health disparities, LGBTQ issues, workforce development and economic development.

The firm also said in the release that it would support programming for Atlanta entrepreneurs, including mentoring, home-sharing and development forums.

“Georgia has remained on the cutting edge of training and educating our workforce, which continues to attract first-class companies like Airbnb to invest here,” Gov. Brian Kemp said in a statement.

Airbnb and Microsoft are two headliners in a flurry of companies that have located major offices or are considering Atlanta for a corporate presence as companies seek to tap into the job markets of the Sun Belt. Connolly said Georgia was among the five states between 2019 and 2020 with the most in-migration of residents.

“We believe that we're only in the early stages at this geographic shift,” Connolly said. "I am confident we will see additional large relocations and expansion announcements later this year."