While tech startups have become synonymous with urban areas that offer improved access to talent, resources and infrastructure, the reality is that rural areas are also home to startups. This may come as a surprise to those who have moved away from rural areas specifically to find a job in the tech industry, which accounts for more than 6.7 million jobs in the United States alone.
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And the advantages to having your tech startup based in a rural area? Plenty. Young was full of praise, citing “low cost of living, no traffic, elbow room, and easy access to the outdoors.” In a similar vein, Langer talked about how Red Wing is a great place for those with a love of the outdoors, its close proximity to both Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as only being 45 minutes away from the nearest airport. “Red Wing is the perfect mix of small town and big city,” Langer said. “It’s a wonderful place to raise children. It’s got everything.” An important factor Levy brought up was access to quality education. The Gorge has access to quality schools and “employees for a high-tech company want the best schools for their kids.”
In my 2015 eBook Last Rush Hour: The Decentralization of Knowledge Work in the Twenty-First Century, I discuss these and other advantages less populated regions offer in terms of housing affordability, enhanced quality of life and the end of stressful, time sucking commutes across congested metro areas. The growth of the knowledge and information-based economy makes location far less relevant — unlike during the Industrial Age when work was centralized in downtown metro areas and suburban office parks.
Key to this reverse Industrial Age migration to what author Jack Lessinger termed Penturbia in his 1991 book of the same name is the modernization and expansion of fiber to the premise telecommunications infrastructure to ensure all areas have access to advanced services. It is as critical to the 21st century as roads and highways were to the 20th.