Affordability helps drive tech boom in small cities

A virtue of the tech industry is that its work can be done virtually anywhere. So when the cost of certain cities’ real estate reaches parity with that of lush Mediterranean islands, smaller, less expensive cities look more appealing (CityLab).

One such place is Lincoln, Nebraska. The “Silicon Prairie” is building on its existing assets (i.e., low cost of living and a nearby research university) with economic development incentives and hip amenities designed to attract young, talented workers (Bloomberg Business).

“What some people on the coast refer to negatively as fly-over country is going to be the epicenter of the next wave of innovation,” said Steve Case, co-founder of AOL.

Although no city has succeeded in becoming the next Silicon Valley, small metros are demonstrating that innovation isn’t inexorably tied to big cities (CityLab). A working paper from Stanford and Waterloo universities compares the volume of patent applications with population density and finds that the relationship between the two variables has steadily decreased in recent years.

Furthermore, angel investors in the Great Lakes region invested more money last year than in any other region, including California (SSTI). This is a first since the Angel Resource Institute began tracking this data in 2006.

Another useful resource: Bloomberg Business has created a visual comparing average STEM pay vs. cost of living in the top 100 U.S. tech metros.

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