Why I Based My Tech Company in the Middle of Iowa
Iowa’s technology sector accounts for nearly $11 billion, or 8.8%, of the state’s GDP. Other Midwestern states—like Minnesota (with 136,000 tech workers, forecast to grow to nearly 200,000 within the next decade), Kansas (Wichita has the third most concentrated population of advanced industries workers), and Colorado (Denver is ranked fifth in the country for startup activity)—boast similar statistics. Today, more than 900 Midwest companies appear on Inc.’s list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private businesses in the U.S, up from about 600 in 2008.
That's led some to call the region "Silicon Prairie," but the technology and startup culture on the Great Plains and the slopes of the Rockies isn’t trying to replicate California's. For one thing, the advantages of founding a tech startup far away from Silicon Valley are obvious. Cost of living is enormously high in both San Francisco and New York, and the businesses there are feeling the crunch. The talent market in the Bay Area is so hypercompetitive that startups and small companies face prohibitive hiring challenges, despite the region's large talent pool.
So it's no surprise we've heard that so-called "second-tier" cities are growing faster than the established hubs, driven largely by high-tech industries and thanks to business environments that are in many ways more friendly to small companies, entrepreneurs, and skilled independent workers alike. If you're looking to bootstrap your startup or just keep your burn rate down, then the cities of Silicon Prairie—with their high literacy rates, reasonable property values, and surprising access to powerhouse talent—offer growing appeal.
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