ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Alpharetta followed through on an earlier commitment to continue assistance to Tech Alpharetta, a technology startup engine the city has helped fund since it began in 2015.
The decision came at a Sept. 21 City Council meeting in “The Technology City of the South,” but technical issues with the city’s equipment prevented a live stream of the session. A week earlier, the council met at the Hotel Avalon for a special day-long retreat to discuss budget and operations updates. That meeting also was unavailable for online viewing.
In addressing the council for continued annual funding of $100,000, Tech Alpharetta CEO Karen Cashion said the tech business incubator has a track record of adding value to the city.
Tech Alpharetta’s mission is to grow technology and innovation in the city by fostering existing and startup companies through strategic advice and rental of office space.
“At any given time at our center, we have between 40-55 tech startups members,” Cashion said.
Over the past five years, Cashion said, the center has raised $100 million in investor funding, graduated 13 companies and created nearly 600 new tech and service industry jobs for Alpharetta and a total of 1,000 for the state.
“We’re having a very significant economic impact on the city and the state as a whole, just as a result of the incubator alone,” Cashion said.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, she said, the organization turned its resources to online assistance. Since April, Tech Alpharetta has held more than 32 education and leadership virtual workshops attended by some 1,200 tech executives, Cashion said.
“So we’re really providing very important and desirable services to the tech community,” she said.
In addition, Tech Alpharetta lends its support by providing leading tech company executives to work with the city in recruiting new businesses, she said. Ties have also been established with the new Fulton County Schools Innovation Academy set to open in Alpharetta in 2021, Cashion said.
Up until last year, the city had appropriated $125,000 annually to Tech Alpharetta through the Alpharetta Development Authority. But, in 2019, city officials began trying to ween the organization off the government payroll. They lowered the annual stipend to $100,000 and demanded certain benchmarks be met to show some progress toward self-sufficiency.
Those benchmarks appeared to have been satisfied last year, when the City Council passed a measure to extend the contract to three years.
In other action at the Sept. 21 meeting, the City Council passed on first reading an ordinance to create a cultural arts commission. The board would include seven members, each appointed by a member of the City Council.
The commission would serve as the “eyes and ears” for the City Council in the local art community, said Morgan Rodgers, director of the Alpharetta Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs.
Along with supporting art and cultural initiatives throughout the year the Cultural Arts Commission would advise the City Council on art acquisition, promote strategic arts planning and support local arts groups, like Arts Alpharetta.