Atlanta’s 7 Year Explosion & The Hip Hop Oasis

Apparently my adopted home town leads the nation in population growth, going back as far as 2000. And I can believe it, I’m part of that statistic. And I’ve driven in the rush hour traffic.

I never planned to make Atlanta my home when I first arrived on a contract job in 2003. I thought I’d be here for my 6 month contract, and would return Portland, Oregon in a better job market than when I left. My plan was detoured slightly when that contract was lucratively extended by 3 months. And finally plans to return were put on hold as contract after contract held me in town with rates of pay far superior to that of Oregon. Even now, nearly 4 years later, with job market picking up in Oregon, I still find the offerings inferior to what’s available locally.

Another interesting fact that is relevant to this discussion is my neighborhood of Buckhead is home to the “the highest concentration of high end stores in the United States” according to wikipedia and bears the title of “Shopping Mecca of the Southeast“. Unsurprisingly, it’s also one of the centers of night life for Atlanta.

So why is Atlanta doing so well and attracting so many people? I have a theory that’s been rattling around in my head for a while. My theory is Atlanta is the city sheltered in a hip-hop/sports economic oasis. Oh sure, favorable conditions for business, proximity to Coke, Delta Airlines, CNN and a ton of major financial institutions has its influence too, I’m sure. But anybody can tell you that.

What not everybody will tell you is that the eternal exuberance of the local music industry and sporting events keeps everybody out late, living it up and spending money. People spending money keeps non-essential businesses open, creates new business opportunity and keeps people working even if they can’t dunk, pass or spit out clever rhyming phrases over old funk and disco hooks. (I’ve tried, I can’t. I do a comical beatbox, but I won’t prove it.)

In an effort to be thorough and back up my crackpot theory (do note, it is tagged “crackpot theory”), I did a quick Google search on the economics of hip hop. (The sports part is sort of a no-brainer.) There’s not much out there. I only found an article that mentions in passing that hip hop had the possibility to help rebuild urban areas in Detroit, but that doesn’t help me prove it has had anything to do with the good times here in Hotlanta, the city of Bling.

So I’ll leave it up to you. I welcome all attempts to shoot holes in my theory. Just make sure it’s my theory you’re aiming at. 🙂 Oh yeah, and if anybody goes on to get a plush grant to study the impacts of Hip Hop on the economy of Atlanta, I want an honorable mention. Or a really well paid spot on the research team.

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