America’s New Technology Boomtowns

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America’s New Technology Boomtowns

The conventional wisdom expects info-tech to continue concentrating in a handful dense urban cores which offer the best jobs and draw the most talented young people.  As The New York Times recently put it, “these places are so powerful that, they have little need to relate to other, less fashionable cities.”

In fact, that was true – until it wasn’t.

The most recent data on jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, suggests that technology jobs, with some exceptions, are now shifting to smaller, more affordable places.

What we may be witnessing is a third phase of growth in the info-tech world, which corresponds to the Deployment Phase of the Digital Techno-Economic Revolution.  The initial phase, corresponding to the Deployment Phase of the Mass Production Techno-Economic Revolution, began in the 1950s; it was mostly suburban and dominated by the still-powerful Bay Area.  Meanwhile, Boston and Southern California were heavily tied to aerospace and defense.  The second phase, which corresponds to the Installation Phase of the Digital Techno-Economic Revolution started in the 80s and is now coming to a close; this wave of technology growth was focused in two hot spots, the Bay Area and Washington's Puget Sound.  The second phase largely involved social media, search and digital applications for business services.

The third growth phase of info-tech, now in its infancy, promises greater dispersion to other locations, some with strong info-tech backgrounds, some with far less.  According to Praxis Strategy Group’s analysis of federal data and EMSI’s fourth-quarter 2017 data-set the last two years’ numbers for the country’s 53 largest metros indicate that the STEM job growth leader was Orlando, at 8%; that’s three times the national average.   Next, on the list were San Francisco and Charlotte (each at 7%); Grand Rapids, Michigan (at 6%); and then Salt Lake City, Tampa, Seattle, Raleigh, Miami and Las Vegas (all at 5%).

Why are these new technology hubs emerging, now?

Silicon Valley, along with its urban annex, San Francisco, seems likely to remain the top technology hub for the foreseeable future. According to a Brookings Institute analysis, that area accounted for 44% of the country’s venture capital funding in 2014...

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