3 Cities That Taught Me What Tech Looks Like Outside of Silicon Valley
When thinking about the future of technology, it’s tempting to look to Silicon Valley companies like Netflix and Tesla. But, Silicon Valley isn’t the only tech city in the market anymore. In fact, a report by Palo Alto Online highlighted that more workers are leaving the valley than coming in.
Over the course of 2017, I sought perspective on what the future of technology looks like across the nation, and these are the three cities that taught me what tech looks like outside of Silicon Valley.
1. Austin, Texas
With a backdrop that could convince anyone to stay, Austin is home to some of the world’s more notable tech companies from Intel to IBM. The rapidly expanding tech sector is a large contributor to why Austin is considered one of the fastest-growing cities in America.
Over 17,000 startups have chosen the city as their launching pad, and a slew of larger companies like Google and Apple have created campuses in the area.
The city is full of initiatives, including bike transit. Look downtown and you’ll see people running, biking, riding a bus and meeting to discuss the software’s new features. Not only does tech feel accessible, it’s easy to see its impact.
According to the Austin Chamber of Commerce, the high-tech industry has grown by 24.9 percent in the last five years, despite a few lulls. As the hub continues to learn how to support its expansion, it will serve as a model for other cities who are looking to sustain the growth incurred from a growing tech sector.
About 10 years ago, Amazon and Microsoft were some of the only tech companies in town, and unsurprisingly, many of Seattle’s startups were swallowed by the giants. But then, Google set up shop, followed by Facebook, Apple and SpaceX.
Many of these companies hired thousands of people, making the job market plentiful and, in some senses, competitive. The largest struggle for Seattle now is avoiding the pitfalls of its predecessors. With the housing market rising at an alarming rate, there is a real concern that the city will bloat like the Bay Area.
To its credit, Seattle has made it clear that its doing everything it can to address the affordability issue. Mayor Ed Murray has publicly issued statements on his website expressing his intent to address the affordability crisis.
3. Chattanooga, Tenn.
Known as the heart of the Deep South, Chattanooga probably isn’t exactly the first place you think of when you imagine the future of tech. But, that’s going to change.
Chattanooga has made headlines for its growing tech sector, environmental commitment and 10-gigabit fiber optic internet network that’s available for commercial and residential use across the city.
The Innovation District aims to put the city on the map as a competitive tech environment where companies want to start their business. Thus far, they’ve seen great success. According to a 2015 study conducted by a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga professor, the network has resulted in an estimated $865.3 million to the local economy since its creation in 2010.
But, more important than the growth in the city’s technology sector, Chattanooga is committed to making technology its future. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics schools are popping up across the city, in addition to a wealth of adult education centers that aim to connect every citizen, not just those with a degree, to the growing tech sector.
The biggest lesson I learned?
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. The diversity of tech across the nation all stems from a similar need: Making the city better for the future. As the technology sector of the United States grows, tech companies will stem from the need to solve a problem and expand their community. Trends will be tossed aside for sustainable tech sectors that answer the needs of the people.