I covered the conference for the local newspaper.
Florida made quite an impression on me. I thought he understood the high-tech workforce better than anyone.
And at a time when everyone focused on globalization and a mobile workforce, Florida’s message was that cities needed to create places where talented people liked to live.
“Place is the single most important thing in the global economy,” Florida said at the time.
That’s still true.
That’s why Austin does so well in attracting and retaining a high-tech workforce. The city is a wonderful place to live and raise a family. It’s affordable and the city has a thriving creative class of artists, musicians, writers and high tech workers. The city has lakes, hike and bike trails, parks and more. Austin Fit, a marathon training program downtown, regularly attracts between 300 to 500 people at 6 a.m. on a Saturday during the sweltering summer heat to train for marathons. Austin and its citizens focus on recreation and exercise. But they still know how to have fun with festivals like Keep Austin Weird and Eeyore’s Birthday as well as the nationally known Austin City Limits and South by Southwest. Austin also has great restaurants, bars and more than a dozen coworking sites.
One of the things that makes Austin attractive, in my humble opinion, is the collective intelligence of its people. Maybe it’s because the University of Texas makes it home there, but Austin people are whip-smart.
San Antonio isn’t on the list – yet. But I think San Antonio is making huge progress toward becoming a high-tech hub. Mayor Julian Castro has addressed the obesity epidemic and put a huge focus on the importance of exercise and nutrition. San Antonio has the Fit Family Challenge with free Zumba classes and more every week in city parks.
The city is also focusing on improving its high school dropout rate, which is among the highest in the country. San Antonio is affordable, beautiful and has a creative class of artists, musicians and writers. And it’s high-tech workforce has also been growing.
This month, Richard Florida has a revision of The Rise of the Creative Class book coming out: The Rise of the Creative Class Revisited and he’s compiled a list of the top tech cities in the U.S.
Seattle, home to Microsoft and Amazon, claims the top place from Silicon Valley, which ranked first in his last book. Silicon Valley, which consists of the San Jose metro area, ranks second followed by the greater San Francisco area.
Portland, Oregon claims the fourth spot followed by Austin.
Raleigh, San Diego, Durham, Greater Boston and Boulder round out the top 10.
New York and Washington, D.C., don’t make the list despite their growing high-tech regions.
Florida ranks the top Tech cities by technology, talent and tolerance.
“While technology is an important driver of economic growth and development, it needs to be part of a broader social and cultural ecosystem before it can generate real prosperity,” Florida writes in this article in Atlantic Cities. “There is considerable overlap between the Technology Index and the Creative Class, which makes up more than 35 percent of the workforce in 14 of the top 20 Technology Index metros, and exceeds 40 percent in six of them.”