As the tech sector has had an increasingly significant influence on the marketplace, Silicon Valley is now thought of as the home of American technological innovation. However, due to recent corporate success and a lower cost of living, there is a good chance that St. Louis, Missouri might supplant Northern California as the country’s tech hub.
San Francisco Is Just Too Expensive
The fact is, the cost of living in the City by the Bay has gotten so exorbitant recent years that even the most talented and hard-working techie can find themselves spending most of their paychecks on $4,500 rentals and million-dollar mortgages. Things have gotten so bad that Silicon Valley real estate prices are now being blamed for the start of a new tech crunch. Conversely, recent St. Louis-based startup success stories like Hatchbuck, which enjoyed a 300 percent revenue increase in 2013, have been able to thrive in part because of the much more livable conditions that exist in the Great Plains.
St. Louis Is Already Home to Numerous Tech Incubators And Start-ups
San Francisco’s punishing cost of living isn’t the only reason St. Louis is steadily on its way to becoming a major player in the tech world. Funding for St. Louis-based tech startups increased 1,221 percent from 2013 to 2014, with venture capitalists providing more than $71 million in capital for 21 Mound City businesses in 2014 alone. And with high-profile St. Louis tech incubators like TREX and LaunchCode providing Midwestern techies with the training and support they need to realize their ambitions, it wouldn’t be a surprise for the next PayPal or Google to emerge from the Silicon Prairie.
Major Corporations Like Boeing and Square Believe In St. Louis
For a region to become a center of technological innovation and a beacon to hungry tech workers, larger companies need to make permanent investments in the area to signal that the water is fine for everybody else. In St. Louis, this process is already begun in earnest. Mobile payments leader Square opened a new permanent office there in September 2015. In October 2015, Amsterdam-based tax auditing giant KPMG followed suit. That same month, Boeing opened a new technology and research site in the city that brought in 700 new tech jobs. And with venture capitalist firms like Arch Grants and Capital Innovators providing funding for entrepreneurs to relocate to the Fourth City, St. Louis is well on its way to becoming the country’s new hub for innovation and growth.
Mario McKellop is a freelance writer who has covered the pop culture beat since 2010.