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VentureBeat is pleased to introduce Heartland Tech, an editorial channel devoted to news and analysis around one of the most important issues of our time: the role of tech in creating — and destroying — jobs in America’s heartland.

The 2016 presidential election laid bare a chasm between technology companies and the rest of the country, namely the so-called flyover states and the region often derided as the Rust Belt. Yet new ecosystems of venture capital, innovation, and entrepreneurship are forming across the country. What can be done to bridge the divide between Silicon Valley and the heartland?

During the past several months, we’ve quietly laid the groundwork to cover this urgent topic. We spoke with entrepreneurs, investors, and community stakeholders across the country. Will Price of Next Frontier Capital in Bozeman, Montana, put it this way: “There’s a system that’s creating wealth and opportunity in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area, which are the largest beneficiaries, and they get multiples of what it creates compared to the other parts of the country.”

“This is the issue of our time,” declared U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), as VentureBeat recently reported.

With Heartland Tech, we aim to foster discourse and debate around many aspects of this issue: job losses from automation and AI, income inequality versus increased productivity, education and retraining, and how to nurture investment and startups, among other topics. We don’t claim to know the answers, but we believe it’s critical for stakeholders to work towards them.

Heartland Tech will present news and analysis by VentureBeat staff and local journalists, guest articles from leading figures, research and infographics, and syndicated articles from a wide variety of other outlets. We’re also working to add a weekly newsletter, video, and a regular podcast to the mix.

Linked to this editorial mission, we’ll also host several offline events. Notably, look for a VIP kick-off event on June 14 in San Francisco (it’s free and space is limited; apply for an invite here) and a conference series called Blueprint, to be held in Reno in September.

It’s this agenda, how and whether America steps up to the challenge, that Heartland Tech will address. Please join the conversation and drop me a line with story ideas and your thoughts of how to bridge this divide.

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