For decades, Silicon Valley has been known the world over as a mecca for tech companies, with venture capitalist firms ready to invest millions and a startup incubator on every block. Unfortunately, the shine is beginning to wear off and Silicon Valley’s reputation is slipping after high-profile PR missteps by companies like Google, Twitter, and Uber as well as skyrocketing living costs throughout the Bay Area.
Silicon Valley alternatives are popping up across the US, and these new tech hubs are working hard to attract their own venture capitalist firms and tech startups. From the Silicon Desert in Phoenix, AZ to Tech Valley in Albany, NY, tech companies have a number of great options to choose from when deciding where to set up shop, and young professionals in the technology field have many choices as far as where to launch a career. Here are seven of the most attractive locations (in no particular order) that could produce the next Google, Apple, or Amazon.
The state of Utah has been on one heck of a winning streak recently. After earning the top ranking in CNBC’s list of Top States for Business 2016, the Beehive State was also ranked #1 for innovation and entrepreneurship and #2 for high-tech performance by the US Chamber of Commerce in 2017. Tech companies in Salt Lake City are drawn to the beautiful scenery, low taxes, and wealth of talent. It’s easy to see why Utah is a tech hub on the rise.
The rise of Tampa Bay tech can be partly attributed to Bill Gates. The Microsoft founder’s Cascade Investment has contributed $2B to turn Tampa into the next great startup incubator. In addition to the serious cash influx, other elements that make Tampa a great area for tech companies include the beautiful weather, waterfront property, low taxes, and large population (3M+ in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area). A number of financial services companies already have operations in Tampa, and it’s quickly earning a reputation as one of the best cities for tech jobs.
Huntsville may not get as much press as Silicon Valley, but this northern Alabama town has actually been a tech hub since the 1950s during the early days of the US space program. This history of innovation has made Huntsville a popular location for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals. What really gives Huntsville technology companies an edge, however, is pay potential vs. cost of living. According to Bloomberg, Huntsville ranks in the top 10 (#9) for STEM pay and toward the bottom (#68) for cost of living.
10 years ago, the economy in Phoenix was largely dependent on real estate and construction. Then the Great Recession hit and the “Silicon Desert” was born. The number of tech companies in Phoenix has almost quadrupled over the past five years, and it’s easy to see what the area has to offer: it’s the sixth-most populous city in the US, rent is still relatively cheap, it’s close to the Mexican border, and it’s close enough to Silicon Valley to allow access to venture capitalist firms on the West Coast.
As far as the tech hubs on this list go, Seattle is probably the most well known as a startup incubator. The area did produce Microsoft, after all. However, Seattle tech companies are now turning to the stars rather than PCs and software. In fact, there’s been so much growth in the aerospace industry that Seattle has earned a reputation as “the Silicon Valley of space startups.” With more affordable housing prices and a strong local economy, Seattle provides a great option on the West Coast for individuals looking to get out of Silicon Valley.
Albany tech companies are drawn to “Tech Valley” – the area of Eastern NY that includes the Adirondacks, Hudson Valley, and Mohawk Valley – because of the pool of young talent in the area (it’s close to a number of universities) as well as a generous tax incentive designed to promote investment, foster tech startups, and attract entrepreneurs.
Kansas City is one of the best cities for tech jobs in the Midwest, rivaling Chicago and Minneapolis (perhaps even outdoing those two hotspots). In 2012, it was the first major US city to get Google Fiber, providing the infrastructure necessary to foster great startup companies and draw venture capitalist firms. They’ve also attracted big name companies like Virgin Mobile USA, Honeywell, DST Systems, Garmin, and Cerner. Plus, as far as Silicon Valley alternatives go, you can’t beat a town with great BBQ.