In Their DNA: Tech in Middle America
When you think of technology innovation, your mind probably jumps to Silicon Valley.
Why is that? Is that the only place good ideas come from? Is there something in the soil that breeds digital creativity?
Of course not. Because of this mindset that technology in America is available only on the coasts, parts of our country have been neglected. In truth, Middle America is a gold mine for ideas and tech talent that has remained largely untapped up to this point. In fact, tech creativity and innovation are in their DNA.
Just look at Bill Gates and Paul Allen. They founded Microsoft out of an Albuquerque garage because that’s where the epicenter of personal computing began with MITS the maker of the Altair. The talent is there. It’s just a matter of cultivating the talent and allowing it to grow in place. Too often people are forced to choose between vocation and location. In essence, they are forced to choose between the place they love and the career they aspire to.
That simply is unacceptable and unnecessary.
Tech talent should be allowed to grow in Middle America. Like the well documented double helix within DNA, there are two main components to tech success.
There is tech talent in Middle America, but in many cases, the top talent falls victim to one of two scenarios.
- Pursue a career in a different industry because it allows for a career close to home
- Move to the coast in order to work with the latest technologies
Middle America has fantastic higher educational institutions. We need to make sure our young people understand the opportunities that are available to them in technology post-graduation. That will create a pipeline of talent, but once created, we must foster that talent and build industries that keep this talent close to home.
It’s not just ‘run of the mill’ tech talent in Middle America. There is some of the best talent in the world. In many cases, the software developers who left home to chase the big job in California or Boston ultimately return home to care for an aging parent or because they miss the quality of life and affordability of “home.”
Some of the country’s premier technology minds are willing to trade their career for quality of life. Instead of letting them, we must equip this talent with the means to pursue meaningful, challenging and fulfilling work in technology, close to home. This is by and large the thesis of Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest movement to bring capital investment dollars to Middle America.
There is available, quality technology talent in Middle America. No longer should the coasts maintain a monopoly on software development and innovative technology. With a historically unrivaled work ethic, Middle America is ripe for a technology boom. Don’t bet against the heartland. Tech and innovation is in their DNA.