Most articles written about startup scenes exterior of the coasts use the phrase “the subsequent Silicon Valley.” As in, St. Louis or Pittsburgh is poised to be the “subsequent Silicon Valley.” But do these cities actually need to be the subsequent Silicon Valley?

It’s a critical query. While the Bay Area is understood for innovation, it’s additionally recognized for ridiculously excessive housing costs that preserve even some comparatively well-paid tech employees (to say nothing of academics, cops, and nurses) struggling to afford a spot to reside. In an period the place revenue inequality is a rising concern, Silicon Valley stays one of many nation’s most economically unequal communities.


VentureBeat’s Heartland Tech channel invitations you to hitch us and different senior enterprise leaders at BLUEPRINT in Reno on March 5-7. Learn learn how to broaden jobs to Middle America, decrease prices, and enhance income. Click right here to request an invitation and be part of the dialog. 


The issues of Silicon Valley aren’t restricted to costly housing. The space’s tech firms typically have a repute for being insular and disengaged from their neighborhood. As tech communities and startup scenes develop throughout the Heartland, it’s essential to take a considerate strategy to creating communities the place the wealth and financial alternative created by tech firms — and fundamentals like housing — isn’t simply obtainable to a fortunate few.

And it’s essential that firms make an energetic effort to enhance the cities and communities they name residence.

Here are a number of methods your organization can try this.

1. Get concerned in your native college system

If you’ve been across the tech neighborhood for very lengthy, you’ll hear a typical criticism: Public faculties simply aren’t producing college students which have the coding and programming expertise crucial to reach the trendy workforce. There are two methods to strategy this drawback. You can:

  1. Use it as an excuse to demonize the already overworked and underfunded public training system.
  2. Do one thing about it.

In my neighborhood, we did one thing about it. Randy Schilling, the founding father of a profitable startup and an incubator (BoardPaq and OPO Startups) serves because the chair of the training committee on the St. Charles County EDC Business and Community Partners (disclosure: I’m the VP of selling and entrepreneurship at EDC). Schilling led an effort to buy 450 Micro:bits miniature laptop kits for the neighborhood’s seventh grade college students. While the initiative is altruistic, hopefully a number of the college students use the small, programmable gadget to study coding and someday turn into the extremely expert programmers Schilling and different space tech entrepreneurs want.

2. Use your technical expertise to resolve neighborhood issues

There isn’t any scarcity of issues that want fixing within the cities and communities of the Heartland. Hunger, crime, and homelessness are nonetheless far too widespread. While not each drawback has a technology-based resolution, some issues will be helped by bringing collectively proficient programmers and engineers. As an instance, yearly the St. Louis tech neighborhood conducts GlobalHack, a hackathon devoted to fixing challenges dealing with the better St. Louis space.

Last 12 months, GlobalHack’s focus was homelessness. The 12 months earlier than, the occasion targeted on creating techniques and options that may assist residents navigate town’s complicated court docket system. This 12 months, the group will host Code with a Cause, which can give attention to serving to the area’s nonprofits tackle particular software program wants.

If your organization is headquartered in a metropolis that doesn’t have a community-focused hackathon, begin one. The expertise in your group that’s disrupting an business can afford to spend a day utilizing their expertise to make your neighborhood higher.

3. Embrace your function as an agent for change

You can say so much about Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, and a few of it isn’t so good. However, one factor you may say is that Carnegie and Rockefeller took their sense of civic accountability severely. Carnegie funded the development of greater than 3,000 free public libraries. Rockefeller helped fund the creation of contemporary medical science, in addition to the trendy medical college.

In the trendy period, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have taken that lesson to coronary heart, notably on a worldwide scale.

But Heartland entrepreneurs can have a robust influence on the native stage. You don’t must have the cash to construct 1000’s of libraries or treatment malaria.

You and your organization nonetheless have the flexibility to make a distinction. You can provide your time and expertise. And once you and your organization make a distinction in your neighborhood, you create a virtuous loop that results in an even bigger pool of proficient native staff, extra potential buyers, and state and native public officers who can, in some situations, make your life so much simpler (or, in case you’re not an excellent company citizen, so much more durable).

Being a pressure for good in your neighborhood additionally makes individuals root on your firm. Your metropolis rooting so that you can succeed will make a distinction, even when your market is nationwide and worldwide.

Dustin McKissen is an financial improvement government within the better St. Louis space, a LinkedIn Top Voice on Management and Culture, a CNBC contributor, and an Inc. columnist.

This article sources data from VentureBeat