Today's itinerary: Top cities for tech workers (no surprise to us); Silicon Valley bringing tech jobs to rural areas; new tech for old problems; stopping brain drain at Indiana University; and celebrating female entrepreneurs
You might think that you have to live in the Bay Area to earn the most in a technology job. The fact is, unless you're planning to be the next Zuckerberg, career opportunities are often much better for tech workers in the land between the coasts. Cost of living is the main factor.
None of SmartAsset’s top cities are the coastal tech meccas of the past, which makes perfect sense when you know how SmartAsset is ranking cities.
As a financial firm, SmartAsset is concerned with the economic reality of employment in the tech sector. And as enticing as a job in the Valley may be, it probably doesn’t pay as well as a similar job elsewhere when cost of living is factored in.
Average salary, cost of living, tech employment concentration, unemployment rate, and the ratio of tech employment to non-tech employment are all part of SmartAsset’s ranking system. The top five cities are:
Silicon Valley brings high tech jobs to rural U.S.
Small towns need good-paying jobs and Silicon Valley is running out of STEM nerds. One possible solution? Manufacture nerds in small towns. Now, hang with us because this story is heartening.
It’s a perplexing problem for rural America: As manufacturing and farming jobs dry up, no high-tech jobs move in to replace them. The result is a weak economy where young people lack the skills they need to thrive, tech-savvy kids leave town, companies lack the job force they need to compete, and towns struggle.
Several Silicon Valley power players are pitching in to help out. Their scheme is to provide intensive training to students, who will eventually fill the $65,000/year jobs at Pillar. That’s about twice the average rural Iowan’s pay. The ultimate goal is to create a model that other rural towns across America can replicate, creating a more balanced overall tech workforce that isn’t concentrated on the coasts.
Leaders from Microsoft, LinkedIn and other companies are offering training, financial support, data analysis about the challenges facing rural America, and, when the Iowa students are ready, jobs. Another benefit: small-town living appeals to a lot of people who want to live in affordable homes, feel safe and know their neighbors.
The nation’s cattle producers are increasingly turning to 21st century solutions to cure age-old problems, and cloud-based data analytics firm AgBoost is homing in on the range with its herd-management tools.
Founder and CEO Sean Akadiri, a chemist-turned-MBA who founded AgBoost in 2013, has secured $120,000 in early-stage funding for AgBoost, according to a report in Silicon Prairie News.
The Oklahoma City-based firm’s powerful platform provides cattle producers with vital data of a herd-based genetic analysis. Using the science of genomics, a biological process that maps a set of genes present in the cells of an organism, AgBoost can provide breeding and management information based on genetic merit.
With this information, ranchers can avoid costly herd upkeep, such as extra feed and veterinary expenses. Using such data also increases the accuracy of cattle evaluations, according to the report.
In addition to its primary function, AgBoost gives cattle producers a platform connecting buyers and sellers online, accessed anywhere in the world.
The firm offers a free trial available on its website and solution-based subscriptions tailored to the functions and the size of a given herd.
Insurtech attracts VC's interest
Much like landlines, newspapers, and stalking your ex, traditional insurance companies are being disrupted by the digital revolution. One Minneapolis digital insurer, Bright Health, just landed $200 million in venture capital. The company’s current value: $950 million.
The company provides affordable individual, family, and Medicare Advantage plans in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, New York, Ohio, and Tennessee.
Insurtech vs. the big insurers
According to TechCrunch, VCs are pouring money into insurance technology (“insurtech”) companies to the tune of $3 billion this year alone. The insurtechs are fighting big-box insurers like Aetna and UnitedHealth for a stake in a health insurance market expected to top $1 trillion by 2023.
Companies are trying to use technology to keep costs down and run more efficiently than their brick-and-mortar brethren and sistren. They’re also pledging to be more customer friendly than traditional insurance companies, which sounds sorta like promising to be more soothing than a smack upside the head.
TEMPO Milwaukee and female entrepreneurs
Got a killer concept for a new product or service? Got a pair of X chromosomes? If you’re a woman who lives and works in southeastern Wisconsin, you have a prime opportunity to showcase your ideas and network with 780 of Milwaukee’s movers and shakers at TEMPO Milwaukee’s 14th annual Leadership Event.
This year’s theme is “brilliance and resilience,” and the featured speaker will be Kendra Scott, who founded Kendra Scott Jewelry—a business she grew from a $500 project to a billion-dollar fashion brand.
TEMPO Milwaukee, founded in 1975, is dedicated to “accelerating, advancing, and elevating women leaders in the community.” In addition to hosting events, it offers program meetings, professional development sessions, and peer-to-peer mentoring.
The event takes place on October 2nd, but the deadline for applying to participate is August22 — so get that application in now!
FLYOVER U INNOVATION
IU wants to stop student brain drain at graduation
Called The Mill, the facility offers coworking space, incubator programs, educational opportunities, and other programs for startups and entrepreneurs.
In collaboration with IU Bloomington, The Mill has offered space to two student-led tech startups: Hunger Curbed, which helps food trucks connect with customers, and TMR Technology LLC, which helps students track the location of their school bus.
Communities like Bloomington, and other college towns, would do well to follow The Mill’s example, as its executive director Pat East points out.
“Programs like these are important not only for IU Bloomington, but for other universities that lose local talent after graduation. There’s a cohort in each graduating class actively looking to stay in town. Yet each year, our community struggles to retain our 20-somethings. Inviting startups to work at The Mill this summer is a step toward solving that problem,” East said.
College towns around the country, especially those in flyover states that lack the glamorous reputation of other tech hubs, can take a lesson from IU Bloomington and The Mill: Give students a reason to stay and your community could be transformed into one of the best tech cities in the US.
It's time once again for "Name that Flyover City!"
Here are today's questions:
In what city was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood produced?
In what city was pioneering astronaut Neil Armstrong born?
In what city was notorious crime boss John Dillinger born?
Do you have an interesting story about innovation in a local business, university or your city that you'd like to amplify to our readers and followers? Do you know a cool place where locals hang out that you would share with visitors? Or, do you have an unusual or quirky story to share about your town? Then share your stories, pictures, press releases or other media with us and we'll take it from there!