Why small town America is poised to become the next Silicon Valley

  • February 7, 2016
  • /   Ron Stallcup
  • /   economy

Jessica Stillman has a story at Inc.com about a start-up insider predicts small town America will overtake Silicon Valley in innovation.

When it comes to innovation, place matters. Not necessarily because of proximity to facilities or investors (though those are lovely to have, of course), but because creativity is almost always a group endeavor -- big ideas are the product not of one big brain, but of many ideas pinging between several smart people.

Which is one reason Silicon Valley has reigned supreme as America's innovation capital for so long. The Bay Area draws smart people in droves who meet, collide and build amazing things there. That group energy in turn draws more smart people and the cycle continues.

But is the area's unchallenged dominance in tech innovation coming to close? That's the thought-provoking prediction of Rackspace futurist and Silicon Valley insider Robert Scoble. And Scoble's prediction of what new hub (or hubs) will rise in its place might surprise you even more than his prophecy of Silicon Valley decline.

From country song to creativity hub?

For most of us, small town America is the setting of most country Top 40 hits -- a place we look to when we're longing for a quieter lifestyle or some imagined version of the good, old days. Small towns aren't the type of places that are known for their future focus and innovation. That's changing, says Scoble.

"Silicon Valley has traditionally come to places like this and convinced innovators and companies to come to San Francisco area to build their technologies," he wrote recently on Medium. "I'm seeing signs that the flow of talent from small town America to Silicon Valley is reversing, though."

Why is small town America on the rise?

But the appeal of these places goes beyond a nice yard -- it's the whole lifestyle available when you're outside of the urban bubble. Small towns "are winning people and companies because way of life is much more friendly to families and, small town leaders have worked to fill in a 'livability gap.' Things like having nice bars, music events, and restaurants for entrepreneurs to hang out in after a long day working. Things like high speed internet. In Virginia they have gigabit wifi in some areas," Scoble points out.
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