Headin' down the Atlanta highway

Atlanta has emerged as perhaps the most important city in the American south.

Since the recession ended in 2009, cities across the U.S. have undergone a rebirth. But few have the ability to climb back as far as Atlanta, one of the southern cities that felt the particularly sharp sting of foreclosures beginning in 2007. Arguably the most important urban center of the American south, Atlanta is staging a resurgence - not just in the real estate market, but across the board, from attorneys to IT to insurance.

According to Amanda Brandenburg, Division Director of Beacon Hill Legal in Atlanta, the city's fortunes look as good as they have in years.

"We're really excited about what's to come as the real estate market always feels like such a great indicator of the overall economy," Brandenburg explained. "In the past few months, we have seen a huge surge in the demand for residential real estate legal professionals as well as commercial real estate legal professionals. We hope that we're not in another bubble, but the demand for such professionals feels almost as it did in the pre-recession years."

"Atlanta is arguably the most important urban center of the American south."

Real estate market heats up
Both commercial and residential leasing in Atlanta are approaching marks not seen since before the Recession, and it isn't just the seasonal change, Brandenburg pointed out. The recession came down hard in Georgia - foreclosures were commonplace, perhaps only worse in neighboring Florida. But increasingly, job seekers have found Atlanta to be affordable, enjoyable and convenient, driving the housing market and encouraging businesses to open up shop.

It isn't just in the urban center that growth is visible. Atlanta has already undergone the sort of downtown expansion that cities like Boston are just now exploring. Instead, the Georgia capital has witnessed corporate prosperity in the suburban outskirts, thanks at least in some part to the presence of several global giants.

Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Cox Communications, Delta Airlines and several others call Atlanta home - a fact that may surprise those unfamiliar with the city's draw. For these companies, like the smaller organizations and new residents who break bread in Atlanta, the price point is hard to beat. A study from HSH.com indicated that a person can afford a median-priced home in Atlanta on a $36,000 annual salary. While that number is specific to the residential market, commercial leasing has a similar appeal.

Atlanta's stock continues to rise.

The tech sphere is not specific to tech companies
Like many regions, the IT industry is a popular one in Atlanta. But not in the same way as in areas like San Francisco and Austin, Texas. Those cities are tech giants. The companies located there - particularly in San Francisco's silicon valley - have products centered around IT, software or something similar. In Atlanta, tech professionals seek employment in sectors like retail, healthcare or law.

"We regularly staff contract attorneys with experience reviewing and negotiating technology contracts and licenses," said Brandenburg of Beacon Hill Staffing. "Many of the companies for which we staff these positions are not tech companies, but it's become apparent that almost any major corporation will have these type of needs on a regular basis."

"Just about every company has a need for a quality IT department."

In this day and age, just about every company has a need for a quality IT department - not just the Google's and Facebook's of the world. Along with that comes a desire for attorneys who specialize in privacy protection and other aspects of information sharing. That creates a litany of employment opportunities to accommodate folks who seek an honest living, and maybe not the high-speed, competitive life of a programmer for Google or a partner in a New York law firm.

Travis Reding, Regional Director of Beacon Hill Technologies in Atlanta, spoke to the high demand for IT labor in Atlanta.

"The Atlanta technology sector has gone through a tremendous resurgence over the past five years," Reding explained. "In turn, the demand for technology-specific resources, particularly project-based resources, has led to a shortage in talent that this city hasn't seen in the past. I have been working in the IT staffing industry in numerous markets for over fifteen years and don't recall a market this desperate for an influx of IT talent."

All things considered, Atlanta is an attractive destination for massive corporations, small businesses and individuals alike. As more families and younger folks opt for the gallant south - and as air conditioners become even better - the region will continue its rise as a hub of culture and business.

"From a corporate perspective, Atlanta is the most diverse city that I have lived in which is very desirable for IT professionals," Reding continued. "Not only is there a shortage of IT talent but opportunities exist in various industries which make Atlanta a desirable market to be an IT professional."

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