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Leading Locations for 2014 Commentary: Much Depends on Company’s Industry & Life Cycle

Q2 2014
Leading Locations for 2014 Resources
Many experts would agree that the strongest sector of the economy over the last five years has been energy. Next in line? Technology clearly is winning the day and helping pull many markets out of the great recession. A quick review of the 2014 Leading Locations research confirms what we have been seeing from our clients and the markets overall: Companies with a preponderance of technology workers are thirsty for more talent, and the needs of these companies can vary significantly based on their industry and life cycle.

For example, four of the top 10 markets in the overall ranking (San Jose, Provo, San Francisco, and Denver) are emerging or established hubs for technology talent and have a thriving startup ecosystem. Rounding out the top 15 are similar tech-savvy markets in Nashville and Austin. All told, 40 percent of the overall top 15 Leading Locations are found on many short lists for growing or established technology companies.

What’s fascinating in practice is to see the differences in how technology companies are buying this workforce and why this changes so much depending on the industry and life cycle of the company. While many leading global organizations continue to invest in San Jose, San Francisco, and Austin, so too are early-stage startups, with founders often coming out of the larger firms seeking out capital from abundant local sources.

Conversely, we are seeing a significant amount of technology activity in smaller, regional markets such as Madison, Wisc.; Provo, Utah; Fort Collins and Boulder, Col.; Ashville, N.C.; and Tallahassee, Fla. A quick glance of the “Prime Work Force Rank” of the mid-size locations will show all six of these markets in the Top 21 on this year’s Leading Locations list. Why are these types of markets thriving? Many larger companies are diversifying and see the benefit of a footprint that includes mid-size markets with proximity to major universities and a labor pool that values a balance in their work life and personal life. Other small startups seek to grow in these markets with less competition, figuring the capital will come find them when the time is right.

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