Liz Farmer is a GOVERNING finance writer.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Silicon Valley? That is so 1995. As it turns out, other metropolitan areas across the country are kicking some Bay Area rear when it comes to tech job growth since the millennium.
This week, Forbes.com issued its list of America'ss New Tech Hot Spots, which ranks the top 10 cities by science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related (STEM) employment growth. Forbes reports an analysis by the Praxis Strategy Group has shown that the fastest growth over the past decade in STEM employment has taken place not in the most fashionable cities (sorry, New York and San Francisco) but smaller, less dense metropolitan areas.
Enter low-slung Washington, D.C., which is at the center of the metro area that tops Forbes' list with a 21 percent burst in STEM employment since 2001. The city is home to popular startup Living Social and Mayor Vincent Gray has been thumping tech growth as the capital city's new frontier while the federal government downsizes.
A spokesman for the mayor said the administration is "delighted" that the investments they've made over the last two years are bearing fruit.
"It;s clear that the District of Columbia has a bright future as a global technology and business hub, and it's great to see Forbes highlighting that," Pedro Ribeiro said.
The growth comes as the city enjoyed a real estate boom during the 2000s that helped revitalize formerly depressed areas of its downtown. The timing worked out well for entrepreneurs as that decade also saw a territorial shift in tech company space from suburban office parks to more hip, downtown dwellings.
A more educated workforce is also helping to fuel tech growth, especially in places like Raleigh (No. 5) and Houston (No. 8). In fact, that labor growth is outpacing more established places like Boston, San Jose and San Francisco, according to Forbes.
Startups are also positively giddy over real estate prices in places like Riverside (No. 2), Las Vegas (No. 6), Jacksonville (No. 10) and Baltimore (No. 4), where rents for class A office space can go for as much as a 50 percent discount off Bay Area rates.
"Under these conditions, Silicon Valley will be forced to rely increasingly on inertia and mustering of financial resources than innovation," Forbes concludes. "As a result, the nation's tech map will continue to expand from the Bay Area, Boston, Seattle and Southern California to emerging metropolitan areas in North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Colorado and the Pacific Northwest. In the future parts of Florida, Phoenix, and even Great Plains cities like Sioux Falls and Fargo could also achieve some critical mass."