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AfroTech Conference brought in millions to Austin's economy in first year

With increased tech layoffs and DEI jobs on the line, conference leaders said this year's event is imperative.

AUSTIN, Texas — AfroTech Conference released its Austin economic impact numbers.

In November 2022, the first AfroTech conference in Austin brought out Black tech recruiters from big companies like Meta and tens of thousands of Black professionals from around the country. 

"Maybe six, seven years ago, there was a huge conversation that there were not enough Black people in tech," said Simone White, senior vice president of AfroTech.

White said they are helping fill that void.

She said over the six-day conference, AfroTech had 25,000 attendees and brought $18.2 million to the local economy, as well as generating over $216,000 in local property tax and supporting 148 jobs in Austin. 

"It's important to us that we make sure that when we come in that we are actually supporting the city," White said.

This year, organizers want to get more involved with the community by offering all-access education events throughout the city, not just at the Convention Center. 

"We're happy to teach them and provide an entry door into the tech ecosystem," White said.

The tech ecosystem is currently readjusting after many companies overhired during the pandemic, leading to a high rate of tech layoffs that we've seen impact Austin

White said, unfortunately, those responsible for hiring diverse talent in "Diversity, Equity and Inclusion" (DEI) departments had been the first to get let go in many cases, at a time when the Texas Legislature is approving measures to do away with DEI programs at universities.

"We need to be very loud about making sure that the work that we have done over the last, you know, I'd say five to 10 years is not in vain," White said. "We want to make sure that, sure, if you're making layoffs, if you're rehiring, then you're also rehiring for those roles."

Even with the tech companies cutting jobs, White said a lot of them are committed to attending the conference, so when they're ready to hire, attendees are already on the list.

The conference will be Nov. 1-5 and tickets are available now.

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