Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Durham’s blossoming efforts to attract and build new companies as well as other high-tech ventures receive some glowing press from The Atlantic magazine in a package of stories out this week.

Startups at Bull City Startup Stampede, American Underground and American Tobacco campus and local leaders’ efforts to build an entrepreneurial hub are featured. The magazine package is part of “Start-Up Nation: A road trip through the South in search of the next Silicon Valley.”

“Durham is a fascinating example of what happens when a community bands together to try to attract entrepreneurs,” writes Alexis Madrigal, a senior editor at The Atlantic. “They’ve set up all the mechanisms and institutions to foster innovation and now they’re waiting to see if startup culture can take root.”

The Atlantic team toured the American Tobacco Historic District, the Underground (space set aside for startups and service providers) and the Startup Stampede at the Durham Chamber of Commerce headquarters.

Particular attention was paid to Appia, led by serial entrepreneur Jud Bowman, Joystick Labs, an accelerator for videogame companies, two of the firms at Joystick, and some of the latest startups selected for the Stampede.

“We heard that there was a nascent startup scene that had taken hold in downtown Durham, formerly one of the most crime-ridden areas in all of North Carolina,” Madrigal says. “The community and business leaders of the city have put huge resources into revitalizing downtown, particularly around the 1-million square foot complex at the American Tobacco Historic District.”

The Atlantic team really likes the Stampede program.

“While the industrial-chic American Tobacco Campus seems like a natural magnet for entrepreneurs, the newest and scrappiest companies in town make their home a few blocks away on the second floor of the Durham Chamber of Commerce. The Bull City Startup Stampede program,” the magazine says.

After the tours and talking with the entrepreneurs, Madrigal declares Durham is a tech hot spot worth watching.

“I think Durham is one big, Groupon-like success story away from a wave of coverage about how good the area is for tech companies,” he says. “I’m not sure that we met that company’s founder today, but you never know.”

Read The Atlantic stories here: The overview, the Stampede and Joystick.

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