Technology

This Is the Best Small City for High Tech

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High tech jobs, high tech development, high tech schools, and high tech companies are often associated with the large West Coast cities in and around San Francisco and Seattle. Microsoft and Amazon are headquartered in Seattle. Alphabet is in Mountain View.  Meta Platforms (previously Facebook) is located in Menlo Park.

Many of the largest venture capital firms, which supply money to tech startups have headquarters clustered around the Bay Area.

Some of these companies have started to relocate or add large numbers of employees further east. Tesla recently relocated to Austin, the home of computer giant Dell. Several huge tech companies have opened offices in New York City.

Not all of the best cities for high tech are located in these traditional tech-heavy locations. By one measure, several smaller cities are also high-tech centers. The term “high-tech” is hard to define, but it means a lot more than “tech” in the Silicon Valley sense. According to the Workforce Information Council, the high-tech sector includes any industry that employs a high percentage of workers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) occupations.

That encompasses more than 30 categories, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), including such diverse fields as pharmaceuticals, engine and power transmission equipment, semiconductors, aerospace parts, telecommunications, data processing services, oil and gas extraction, and even forestry.

Though STEM occupations account for only about 6% of all jobs in the American economy (according to the BLS), high-tech industries are vitally important to cities these days. Not only are places with established or emerging high-tech sectors poised for economic growth, but a strong technology industry can help a city weather the economic shocks of a recession and even a pandemic.

To identify the best small high-tech city in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities 2021 ranking municipalities and metro areas according to their “high-tech GDP concentration and the number of high-tech industries” they’re home to, as well as the presence of “scientific research and development services.” (Population figures in the list below come from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates.)

The best small city for high tech is Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Here are the details:

> High-tech GDP concentration ranking 2019: 150th
> High-tech GDP ranking 2014-19: 1st
> High-tech GDP ranking 2018-19: 2nd
> Population: 251,836

Click here to see all the best small cities for high tech.

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