Included in this week’s “Beyond VB” section is a story from the Mercury News about how startups are looking beyond Silicon Valley for talent. The two places startups quoted in the piece are heading to? Portland, Oregon, and Boise, Idaho. In a similar piece I wrote for VentureBeat back in November, I spoke with two startups that have opened up offices in Missoula, Montana and Denver, Colorado, respectively.

Anecdotally, most of the startups I’ve spoken with that were previously based in Silicon Valley or are still located there tend to look to the West Coast when it comes time to move operations or open a second office. They want to retain the advantages of being close to San Francisco — without paying San Francisco-priced rent.

Where does that leave cities that are further from Silicon Valley but still hoping to grow their tech ecosystem? It certainly doesn’t mean they can’t attract second offices — after all, the majority of the finalists for Amazon’s HQ2 are located on the East Coast.

But startups and government officials in these cities do have to work a little harder to educate investors and companies about their tech community and get them to pay a visit. People from Silicon Valley are less likely to vacation in Columbus, Ohio than in Phoenix, Arizona, for example.

The good news is it’s clear cities don’t have to be a vacation destination to attract interest from Silicon Valley. Pittsburgh, for example, is now home to Google, Amazon, and Uber offices — though the city’s ecosystem is was already buoyed by a top-tier research university.

But other cities may have to work harder at coming up with events to attract people from the coasts. As I mentioned in my newsletter a few weeks ago, the key is to build long-lasting relationships with the people who do come into town.

Additionally, startup leaders may find that they have to spend a good portion of their time dispelling myths about the business climate in their city. One of the guest authors in the Heartland Tech section this week, Julia Kanouse, discusses some of the biggest myths she’s encountered regarding Midwest tech — and why they’re wrong.

Finally, one piece of advice for city officials: Don’t underestimate the power of having lots of direct flights to San Francisco. When I speak with startup founders around the country about what it’s like to do business in their cities, direct access to San Francisco is one of the most commonly cited positives. And it will make it a lot easier to get people to your city for two- or three-day events.

As always, thanks for reading, and please send me your thoughts via email. You can also sign up here for VentureBeat’s Heartland Tech newsletter to get this column in your inbox weekly.

Anna Hensel
Heartland Tech Reporter

Featured Video

Check out this video from VentureBeat: “What Microsoft and Google are doing to accelerate tech prosperity in the Heartland

From the Heartland Tech channel

Debunking 3 of the biggest myths about Midwest tech

GUEST: In the past four years, a slew of articles have been published comparing the Midwest tech scene to Silicon Valley: in 2014, 2015, 2016, and ending with a recent one from the New York Times. While well-intentioned, these articles all have at their premise the same core element — a comparison. For those of us […]

Read the full story 

microscope science

Ohio competition seeks tech-based solutions to the opioid crisis

With an opioid crisis gripping the nation, Ohio is leading the charge to find a solution with a surprising tool – technology. The Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge is using “a three-phase, prize-based competition to find technology-based solutions that address or improve opioid abuse prevention, treatment, and overdose avoidance and response,” according to its website. Ohio Governor John Kasich […]

Read the full story 

Illinois nonprofits hope mentors and real-world projects will improve diversity in STEM classes

GUEST: Illinois has the unique distinction of producing more top STEM talent than almost any other state, and it continues to produce a record number of STEM degrees each year. But when it comes to the diversity of STEM talent, it’s a different story. A report from the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition found that in computer science, […]

Read the full story 

Beyond VB

‘The Bay Area is broken:’ Why local startups are hiring outside Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley may be the world’s tech paradise, but it’s a hiring nightmare for many local startups now forced to venture from Portland to Boise in search of talent. (via the Mercury News)

Read the full story 

Why B2C Startups Are Starting to Flourish in the Midwest

In the Midwest, these industries have deep roots and are well-known in the tech world for providing successful outcomes. Most VCs not already investing here have started to take note and jump in. But what about the other half of the tech world – B2C? (via American Inno)

Read the full story 

‘Startups are the seed corn’: Steve Case stumps for community building in Philly

The future will look grim for Philadelphia, still the poorest big city in the country, unless a growth-focused community helps startups swell to become the massive employers of the future. (via Technical.ly)

Read the full story 

We Create KC report: Startup investment soared to $540M in 2017

A startling statistic for those who think capital merely flies over the Midwest: Kansas City saw a 69 percent increase in startup investment from 2016 to 2017, according to KCSourceLink’s We Create KC report. (via Startland News)

Read the full story