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The Midwest Does Tech

Do you think the Midwest is just a bunch of old barns and prairie grass? Think again.

Inc. Magazine just reviewed some of the reasons why tech startups are flourishing in Chicago. (You can read the full article here.) It’s true that the Midwest does tech just as well as anywhere else in the country. Low cost and high quality of life add up to be a winning formula for nurturing new tech companies.

This knowledge strengthens our resolve that Omaha can be and will be great at startups, we just need to find our culture and voice. We wrote about this very thing last week in our article titled “why CAN loves Omaha so much.”

The parallels between Omaha and Chicago are evident. In Zoë Henry’s Chicago article she writes:

“The overall quality of life in Chicago may make up for its perceived sluggishness, at least compared to  New York City. A recent ‘Livability’ report, published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (E.I.U.), finds that Chicago ranks No. 33 for its stability, which is also the second-highest of any U.S. city.

Larkins, for his part, nods to the overall ‘ho, hum’ attitude taken by Midwesterners. Windy though Chicago may be, there’s little bluster. ‘We believe in karma and doing favors,’ he says.”

 

Karma and doing good favors? Sounds a lot like our homesteader mentality. Like Omaha, Chicago is a city of do-ers, of people who don’t aspire for fame, but a job well done. Chicago produces more tech talent than any other Midwest city — but the problem is getting that talent to stay local and not hit the coasts. Omaha suffers the same malady: the brain drain.

That’s why articles like the one linked above and our musings from last week are so important to the Great Plains economy. The truth is Chicago, Omaha, Kansas City, Des Moines, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and many others are full of investors looking to fund start-ups. With lower costs of living and diversity in industry, start-ups have a higher chance of success here than on the coasts.

But let’s keep one thing straight about the Chicago and Omaha comparison. Chicago may be bigger, but more people doesn’t equal better. Omaha’s cost of living is a lot cheaper than Chicago and our attitude is right. Where do you want your money to go?

Join the conversation. What are your thoughts on tech start-ups in the Midwest and Midwest tech in general? Comment below.


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