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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Silicon Prairie: 5 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Are Calling the Midwest Home

Posted by Lindy Antonelli

Last month we compared Los Angeles’s tech scene to that of Silicon Valley. Startups are packing their bags and heading south to the sunshine. But the entertainment capital of the world isn’t the only place entrepreneurs are heading—many are moving east to the prairie, the Silicon Prairie that is.

So What Exactly is the Silicon Prairie?

Silicon Prairie is the name used to describe the entrepreneurial culture and tech scene emerging in the Midwest. It includes cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Des Moines, Kansas City, Omaha and geographical areas in between. The internet companies Groupon, GrubHub, Roadtrippers, Lesson.ly, Shiftgig, SpotHero and Gogo all got their start in the prairie.

Why the Prairie?

We know why entrepreneurs are choosing to plant their roots in LA—the creative talent, warm weather and cheaper operating costs (compared to San Francisco) are all appealing. But why would they be drawn to the Midwest? Here are just a few reasons:

1. Lower Operating Costs and Cost of Living

A shared office space in San Francisco goes for $950/month, whereas Los Angeles and Chicago offices go for around $700. You can get an office for as little as $125/month in Indianapolis or $40/month in Detroit. When you factor in housing, entrepreneurs are spending less in the Midwest. According to apartmentlist.com, the median monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment in San Francisco is a whopping $3,560. A one bedroom apartment in Los Angeles is $2,000/month and a one bedroom apartment in Chicago is $1,500/month. A measly $710/month gets you a pad in Indianapolis and $590/month gets you one in Detroit.

2. Growth Opportunities

According to Dice.com, the fastest growing state for tech jobs last year was Minnesota. That’s right, not California or New York, but Minnesota—a Midwestern state. Nebraska was number three and Michigan followed at number four.

3. Midwestern Values

Midwesterners are said to be some of the nicest people, and the sense of community here proves it. People genuinely want to help each other succeed—they get excited for one another when their businesses do well. Because of this, mentorship and networking opportunities are plentiful and funding can be easier to secure.

4. Top Talent

Some of the country’s top universities are in the Midwest—University of Michigan, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois, University of Missouri, University of Notre Dame and Indiana University are all here. Midwesterners are also known for our strong work ethic.

5. Central Location

Indianapolis’s nickname is the Crossroads of America for a reason. Despite being called the “Midwest,” the Midwest is located in a very central location, ideal for travel to either coast or Europe. The region is highly accessible by car or plane and a great middle ground for hosting events.

The Outlook

With the cost of living rapidly increasing in California, it’s foreseeable that more and more techies will be attracted to the Midwest. While the West Coast remains the biggest tech hub in the nation, Silicon Prairie is growing fast welcoming startups with open arms.

We aren’t just known for automobiles, deep dish pizza and corn fields anymore. We’re now also a booming tech hub. So, if you can bare the freezing cold winter temperatures and snow, maybe you should consider moving your business to Silicon Prairie.

Lindy leads Armanino’s Cloud Accounting Solutions Practice. She is the Founder & Chair of the Cloud Accounting Institute and has over 25 years of experience in public accounting.

As the Founder and Chair of the Cloud Accounting Institute, a clearinghouse of information on software as a service (SaaS) and cloud computing, Lindy is at the forefront of the dynamic Cloud Technology landscape. She has published numerous blogs, whitepapers, and articles in this space.

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