Starting Up in the Midwest

Author: Notre Dame ESTEEM

When you think of startups the area of the county that first comes to mind is usually Silicon Valley, and with good reason. Literally dozens of well-known tech businesses currently call the Bay Area town home, including Apple Inc., eBay, Facebook, Google, Yahoo!, Netflix, Intuit, amongst many, many more. However, while there is no doubt that Silicon Valley provided for the foundation for the current day tech boom, the future of the industry might be forged in somewhat unexpected part of the county:

The good old Midwest.

For those of us who originate from the breadbasket of America it will come as no surprise that our region would constitute the next frontier for startups. The Midwest was built on industry and is populated by hardworking, entrepreneurial spirits of all shape and size. For people not from the area this might come as something of a bombshell though. There is definitely a certain stigma attached to the Heartland based on the recent struggles of the auto industry which might cause some people to question the legitimacy of a potential tech renaissance. Luckily, Matt Lautz of company CorvisaCloud has the data to prove the naysayers wrong.

In an article posted on the website, Lautz analyzes the findings from a recent report by the consulting firm Manpower that ranks the top 10 cities for hiring in the third fiscal quarter of 2013. Des Moines, Iowa was the surprising to place finisher, with Grand Rapids, MI and Columbus, OH also making the list. Lautz goes on to expand on the results from this survey with additional thoughts of his own. Some highlights from the article include the following excerpts: 

  • Contrary to the brain drain phenomenon, we are actually seeing that investors are looking to invest outside of the coasts and are exploring companies in more rural areas.
  • Cities like Milwaukee and Madison, Wis., have begun to transform from manufacturing meccas to growing pockets of tech innovation and are supporting a new wave of entrepreneurship in the process.
  • Chicago is hoping to inspire young entrepreneurs as well — the city recently launched 1871, a coworking space that is now home to over 225 startups that have received $30 million in capital and added $13 million to the economy in just one year.
  • A report from venture fund Venture51 shows VC growth in the Midwest increased by 103 percent, compared to Silicon Valley’s 12.6 percent and NYC’s growth of one percent between 2005 and 2010.

As you can see, while the Midwest might not share the glamorous sheen of such startup heavy areas like Silicone Valley, the roots are in place for it to become a legitimate destination for the next generation of entrepreneurs. It seems as if that brain drain we’ve all been talking about for the past few years is finally starting to reverse course.