Ryan Wilson shares why Atlanta is essential for Black businesses

Ryan Wilson shares why Atlanta is essential for Black businesses
Ryan Wilson, co-founder and CEO of The Gathering Spot

The co-working space has expanded significantly over the years. If you are in Atlanta and want to expand your network and grow your business, then you need to become a member of The Gathering Spot, a Black-owned, exclusive members-only club. The community space was co-founded by Ryan Wilson and TK Peterson in 2016. It has since flourished as a hub for bustling businesspeople and creatives. The Gathering Spot offers exclusive membership benefits, a warm environment and bright Black entrepreneurial minds with which to build. Wilson provided rolling out a firsthand glimpse.

How was The Gathering Spot started?

The Gathering Spot was started in my apartment when I was in law school. The center — and what has always been the core of what we do — is about community and people. We do that through experiences and shared space. The club is a co-working space, an event space, a restaurant and a bar.

What makes you one of the best in your field in Atlanta?

We focus heavily on the experience we give every day. It’s really about community. I tell people all the time: We’re not really in the space business; we’re in the community business. Many businesses that are similar to ours focus more on the space itself, but that’s not our point of emphasis. We’re focused on building connections between people that are both professional in nature and social.

Describe the moment you fell in love with the city of Atlanta.

I’m from Atlanta. I grew up just 30 minutes north. I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have, and I left to go to Washington, D.C., for seven years. It was really when I got there [that] I started to appreciate Atlanta [as] a special place.

Atlanta is often referred to as a Black mecca. What about Atlanta makes it a Black mecca?

Majority of the population in Atlanta — well, the quantitative part — are Black. Black folks here are at the center of politics [and] business and, from a cultural perspective, produce what Atlanta is known for. I think part of the reason why Atlanta is a mecca goes beyond the number of Black folks that are down here. [It’s more about] the influence and the diverse people. The stuff that Atlanta makes … and produces is stuff that the people around the world pay attention to. Many of those things are created by Black folks.

How does Atlanta support and encourage Black entrepreneurs?

I started a business when I was 23  years old, and I think our story is very much an Atlanta story. It’s very difficult to raise the kind of capital that we did. I don’t think it would’ve happened anywhere else. The support in this city is actual support. People participate and do absolutely everything they can to make sure the businesses that are born here are actually successful. I think that is what’s special about this city.

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