It's a good time to be a tech entrepreneur. Employment in IT is expected to grow 13.1 percent by 2024, making it one of the fastest-growing industries tracked by the BLS. And nearly 40 percent of small businesses planned to increase spending on IT services this year.
Not too long ago, folks who wanted to "make it" as tech business owners had to settle in Manhattan or San Francisco for access to the nation's best talent. But as demand for technology services has grown, so have the hot spots for owning a tech business. Today, there are great tech cities all around the United States.
So if you're thinking of becoming a tech entrepreneur, where do you do it?
There have never been more (excellent) choices. This report outlines 31 IT destination cities around the country that aren't San Francisco or Manhattan. What they have in common is a booming tech scene, but what distinguishes them is where things really get interesting.
To assemble this list, we started with hard numbers at the state level, including:
- Total non-employer IT businesses: how many single-person IT businesses are there overall?
- Non-employer IT businesses per capita: how high is the concentration of single-person IT businesses, based on the state's population?
- Non-employer IT businesses as a percentage of total non-employer businesses: How well is tech represented among all single-person businesses?
Once we had an idea of which states offered fertile environments for tech business owners, we started digging at the city level. This is where our analysis got more qualitative. We considered reports on emerging tech scenes and talked to entrepreneurs from the cities that kept coming up.
We dug deeper when a place had something really intriguing – like Cleveland's tech czar or San Antonio's dedicated tech district. And we'll admit: some of the cities surprised us (Overland Park, Kansas? You bet! A stone's throw from Kansas City, plus top-ranked schools!).
Every place on this list is a good bet for starting a technology business. Beyond that, we grouped them into eight categories based on the lifestyles they support:
- Best Nightlife
- Best Places to Raise a Family
- Best Places if You're on a Budget
- Best Places if You Love the Outdoors
- Best Places for Beach Bums
- Best Places if You Love a Comeback Story
- Best Community Vibe
- Best Places for Foodies
Check out our interactive map to see how your favorite city fared – or to get an idea of where you may soon be forwarding your mail.
Think we missed one? We'd love to hear about it. Get in touch to tell us about a tech scene we didn't cover.