Everyone knows that Silicon Valley is the place to be for high paying, high-tech jobs. However, with the prestige and power that the area holds, there also comes a high cost of living and other unfavorable, namely overpopulation, congestion and limited housing options.
As the area’s population gets denser and denser, companies are looking beyond California to other regions that just could be the next Silicon Valley. Here’s a breakdown of the top five areas in North America just waiting to burst onto the scene.
While Provo might not be as exciting or glamorous as coastal California, it has a lot of advantages that are drawing people to the area. Nicknamed the Silicon Slopes, the Provo area has Brigham Young University which has a fantastic STEM program. The state also allows for vast tax breaks. It’s been said that if Silicon Valley knows how to make great engineers, Utah breeds great salespeople who know how to work for the high-tech crowd. It’s no wonder that tech giants like Microsoft and Oracle have placed sales offices and call centers in Utah.
Seattle is known for more than Starbucks and ’90s Grunge bands. The Bay area’s neighbor to the north, nicknamed “Silicon Forest “, is home to commerce giant Amazon and a flourishing tech scene. It’s also adding high tech jobs at a faster rate than Silicon Valley. In the last 10 years, there’s been a rise of a new breed of large Seattle-based tech companies, companies that are smaller than the two local powerhouses, Microsoft and Amazon, yet still big enough to fill out the middle tier of the tech world.
This group includes companies such as Expedia, Zillow, PopCap Games, Adobe, and Isilon. Seattle has an ample number of companies not only at the $100 billion estimation but throughout the $10 billion, $1 billion, or $100 million valuation ranges as well.
Ten years after Google arrived in Seattle, the city has seen an explosion of Silicon Valley companies setting up their second engineering offices. Seattle is now home base to engineering offices for Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Salesforce, eBay, Dropbox, Uber, Groupon and Hulu to name a few. In addition, the University of Washington has one of the top 10 computer science programs in the country, with graduates who want to remain in the region.
The area surrounding Toronto is home to Google and Shopify, along with thousands of startups. Toronto is poised to be the next tech hub because it offers startups access to some of the world’s best and brightest innovators. According to Michael Katchen of Wealthsimple, “The best thing about running a start-up in Toronto is that it’s the real world, not a tech la-la land. When you’re building a product for real, diverse people, it’s important to do it with and among real, diverse people.”
Huffington Post reports that in the last few years, Toronto has become home to the most high-volume tech companies in the country. In fact, 40 percent of the top 250 technology companies in Canada is headquartered in Toronto.
Once an old steel town, long gone are the days of smoky skies and working mills. In its place is a more modern and high-tech city backed by colleges such as The University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. Brilliant researchers and students at CMU are developing new computer interfaces, glare-reducing headlights, robotic-assisted prostheses, 3D editing of 2D images, and much more.
Community leaders have established a robust environment to support new companies from the planning stage through startup funding and full growth. Local organizations like the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, Pittsburgh Technical Council and the Regional Investors Council work to ensure that businesses, especially startups, have what they need to get established, grow and — most importantly — stay in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Since 2000, the city’s population has skyrocketed by 40% and the residents are getting younger. Not only that, but the cost of living in Pittsburgh is extremely reasonable, and it’s been named one of the most livable cities year after year.
Austin is a growing region that has been a hotbed of activity for young people in recent years. The music scene is huge and now it’s also home to a mix of larger companies and shrewd entrepreneurs filing in from California. There are a number of veteran executives operating here as well as startups and large players alike. It’s a market for high-growth companies to thrive. A study conducted by Forbes.com found that one-third of the companies that are moving to Texas originated in California, where the high cost of doing business often sends companies looking for better opportunities. Companies like Dell started in Austin, and other businesses have flocked there including Apple, Microsoft, AT&T, and Samsung.
Thinking Outside the Box
While Silicon Valley is still number one in the technology game, it isn’t running away with the race anymore. As more and more cities compete for technology-based companies to move in, North America will see other major cities benefitting from the high-tech modern world. Independent IT companies in these areas can take advantage of startups while they’re still small and growing, all the while adding to the economy of these five cities. The possibilities are endless, and the future is bright.