We have a lot of ground to cover here in the Heartland Tech section. But despite spanning the South, the Midwest, and the Mountain West region, I sometimes feel like I’m covering startups in the same handful of cities. That’s why I was pleased to see a report out this week from Chicago-based VC firm M25 on the “Best Startup Cities in the Midwest” that doesn’t cover just the usual suspects. Rather, it judges the 54 most populated metro areas in the Midwest based on three categories: the presence of startups and the overall startup environment, access to talent and other resources, and the overall friendliness of the business climate.

M25’s managing director, Victor Gutwein, told me in an email that the report is based on an internal project his firm conducted a few years ago.

“For a VC firm focused on the Midwest region, we quickly found that this means a lot of ground to cover — exciting startups are coming out of dozens of different ecosystems,” Gutwein said.”So this started as an internal project for us to objectively determine where we should be spending our time. Questions like ‘Is this city worth visiting 3 times a year or 4?’ as our team has limited bandwidth.”

The takeaways from the report are limited, as M25 doesn’t share their entire methodology, but it’s a good starting point for thinking about how different cities in the Midwest stack up against one another — particularly smaller cities that are often overlooked. While larger cities like Chicago, Minneapolis, and Pittsburgh will, of course, have more startups, smaller cities can offer startups a lower cost of living, or more hands-on support from the government. M25 cites the Indiana college towns of Lafayette, Bloomington, and South Bend as smaller cities with a favorable business environment that have received quite a bit of support from the government.

Are there any cities in the Midwest that you think have been particularly overlooked in the startup conversation?

Send me an email with your thoughts and commentary.

Thanks for reading,

Anna Hensel
Heartland Tech Reporter

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