In 2012, Alpharetta’s mayor and city council created the state’s first technology commission, called the Alpharetta Technology Commission. Its mission was to provide strategic input to the city, and to help identify opportunities and initiatives to support Alpharetta’s technology sector. Today, the City of Alpharetta has more than 640 tech companies within its 25-mile radius, and the Commission, recently rebranded as Tech Alpharetta, has continued its mission.
Tech Alpharetta now has 3 strategic pillars: its Board, its tech startup incubator, and its tech event pillar. As CEO, Karen Cashion drives Tech Alpharetta’s strategy across all 3 of these pillars. Thanks to these efforts, Tech Alpharetta’s incubator, known as the Tech Alpharetta Innovation Center, has nearly doubled the number of its startups, with 52 tech startups calling the Center home. In addition, Alpharetta’s first private venture capital fund, 11-11 Ventures, is headquartered at the Center. The Center provides its startup members with volunteer mentors, educational programs, resources, and connections to help their startups succeed.
In addition, Tech Alpharetta hosts regular local tech thought leadership and educational events in the Alpharetta community for tech executives and tech professionals. In 2018 alone, these events have served more than 700 area technology professionals. Karen directs these events and also runs Tech Alpharetta’s strategic advisory board of tech C-levels that provides input to the city of Alpharetta on tech infrastructure and the tech sector.
“I’m very passionate about cultivating the tech ecosystem in Alpharetta, says Cashion. “To me, Alpharetta has that “it” factor: a friendly, small town feel, supportive city leaders, a thriving innovation community that ranges from tech startups to Fortune 500 companies, great schools, retail and restaurants, plus Avalon and our new City Center.”
Cashion, who practiced law for twenty years before leading Tech Alpharetta, has been a fixture in the Alpharetta technology community for a number of years. In 2012, she launched a nonprofit called The Greater Alpharetta Tech Network (GATN), which first brought high quality tech thought leadership and educational programing to technology executives in the city. In 2017, she took on the full-time role of CEO of Tech Alpharetta, rebranded it, and merged GATN with Tech Alpharetta.
“By nurturing tech startups, helping to connect our tech community through locally-based events, and by engaging a strategic board that serves as the voice of the local tech industry, Tech Alpharetta continues to grow the city as a tech hub”, says Cashion. “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in a relatively short time, and I’m excited about the bright future of Alpharetta, the Technology City of the South. “