Riverside placed eighth in Forbes' ranking of America’s Coolest Cities. Criteria included entertainment, recreation, and food options; the percentage of millennials who call the city home; overall population growth since 2000; and the ethnic diversity of people living there – which sounds a lot like what tech folks look for in a city, too.
In addition to being officially "cool," Riverside has been called out by Forbes for being one of the Top Ten Best Cities for Tech Jobs and as the second-best Hotspot for Tech Growth. The City of Riverside Community & Economic Development recognizes the importance of tech and IT for the community, and is committed to supporting those starting tech businesses through incentives and other business tools.
"Riverside is a city of arts and innovation, and so [tech] goes right along with what their mission is," says Judd Lillestrand, partner and senior software developer of BitPeel, a Ruby on Rails consultancy that builds mobile-friendly websites and web applications.
Lillestrand describes the tech community as easy to plug in to, with lots of events that offer networking opportunities (like StartupIE and Riverside Ruby User Group) and plentiful co-working spaces, like Riverside I/O.
"I've been involved in bigger tech communities in San Francisco and to be involved in a smaller community like Riverside, there really are unique opportunities in that you can play a part in actually making a difference, and a contribution to helping shape the landscape," says Lillestrand. "As a small-business owner, that motivates me. I can make a difference as opposed to being just another cog in a wheel, and I think that's been great."