Tech Boom Towns
Tech lets us work from just about anywhere – so why is everyone migrating to Silicon Valley or Alley? Turns out they’re not. Check out 13 of the fastest growing tech hubs you might not know about (but most certainly should).
The home of Warren Buffett and birthplace of the TV dinner, Omaha is quickly growing into a serious tech hub as well. The Silicon Prairie staple boasts major industries like ConAgra and Berkshire Hathaway as well as startups like SkyVu and BuyNow. You can keep up with the scene by checking out Omaha Startups.
Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
There may be no better place to launch a tech career than in the area known as the Research Triangle –a whopping 36% of graduates in the Raleigh metro area have a background in STEM. The area boasts three swanky American Underground locations for coworking; Durham’s The Startup Factory is the most highly capitalized tech accelerator in the southeast; and remember Google Fiber? Raleigh-Durham is next.
St. Louis, Missouri
With the fastest growth in funding for tech startups in 2014 (over 1200%), St. Louis is poised to break out of the Budweiser bottleneck any day now. Thanks to resources like Innovate STL and Arch Grants, as well as the annual Strange Loop conference, you can expect great things from the city very soon. Keep up with the news by checking out Accelerate St. Louis.
Yes, Alaska. When daylight barely appears for months on end, why not shack up with a laptop and get to work? That’s what SimplySocial CEO Tyler Arnold attributes to high tech’s rise in the far north. Nanook Tech Ventures works with the University of Alaska Fairbanks to create startups. And deep in the tundra, one entrepreneur founded her beauty startup in a log cabin, taking remote work to a whole new level.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Industry is changing quickly down at the Rapids. Iowa Startup Accelerator announced its inaugural class last year, including tutor booking platform ShopTutors. Tech community VAULT hosts 1 Million Cups weekly, which features local early stage entrepreneurs. And Startup Weekend hits Cedar Rapids in March.
Watch out Oregon, there’s a new Portlandia in town. Last year, Maine’s biggest city received federal funds to boost startup growth. Both Startup Portland and Startups in Maine are great places to start learning about the city’s tech scene.
Utah’s home to three cities – Provo, Ogden, and Salt Lake City – among the top 15 in the country with the highest concentration of STEM sector employment, and the New Yorker is already declaring the Beehive State “the next Silicon Valley”. With software company Novell leading the charge, Utah has begun attracting major players like digital storage company EMC Corp. and eBay, which opened a 261,000 square-foot operations center in SLC last year.
Greenville, South Carolina
While upstate South Carolina has already done a bang-up job attracting major players like GE and BMW to the region, new businesses like The Iron Yard – a combination coworking space, accelerator, and code academy – are bringing the startup ethos to the city. With some major tax incentives in place, the entire state is poised to see some serious tech sector growth. You can learn more about the scene in Greenville here.
Startups are hot in Miami, both figuratively and, as always, literally. The city’s access to the Latin American market has earned the Wall Street Journal’s stamp of approval. Not only does Smart City Startups hit Miami in April, but the fascinating, secretive, and massively-funded VR startup Magic Leap is based in Dania Beach.
The Steel City might have been late to embrace new industry, but it’s played catch-up pretty damn fast. More than 1,600 technology firms have a foothold in Pittsburgh – Google, IBM, Apple, and Intel among them – and the presence of prestigious tech institutes like Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh mean that the city’s digital sector is already a major player. Next Pittsburgh featured 15 Pittsburgh Startups to Watch in 2015 and Alphalab is one of the country’s leading accelerators.
Tech scenes often seem to rise from the ashes of failed industry, and that may be truest in Detroit. Thanks to cheap office space, an influx of STEM degrees in southeast Michigan, and major contributions from billionaire Dan Gilbert, Detroit’s startup sector is beginning to boom, according to this terrific re/code feature.
In the middle of Ohio, Dayton and Columbus are duking it out for tech scene supremacy. Dayton’s got Tech Town, an eye-popping acceleration facility, and Columbus boasts an annual startup awards ceremony put on by VentureNEXT – last year’s winners included multichannel cloud app nChannel and sustainable engineering company Biobent Polymers. And online retailer JackThreads, now owned by Thrillist, has roots in Columbus.
Upstate New York
You’ve heard about the spread of New York’s tech boom, but we’re not just talking about Brooklyn – the Albany-Schenectady-Troy area, Syracuse, and Rochester all made Brookings’ top 15 for STEM sector employment. Syracuse’s Tech Garden, High Tech Rochester, and Startup Tech Valley are all key players in the upstate revolution.
Now go forth (and don’t follow the herd).
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