Chicago’s growing talent base and strong support resources make it a highly attractive location for tech businesses as it stakes its place on the global tech scene.
Chicago is on the rise as a magnet for high-tech job seekers. According to a survey conducted by the University of Minnesota, the state of Illinois has the sixth-largest high-tech economy in the United States. The Chicago metropolitan area has 347,100 high-tech jobs, beating San Francisco, Boston and Seattle.
With deep roots in the manufacturing industry, Chicago has transformed itself in recent years to be a strong business climate for digital and tech ventures. This transformation has been driven by the growth of some highly visible tech startups based in the city. For example, Groupon, Inc. a daily deal coupon website, was founded and is hosted in Chicago. Grubhub, Inc. an online and mobile food ordering company based in Chicago, has expanded into more than 800 US cities as well as in London.
What makes the city so attractive to tech businesses, especially promising startups? A growing talent base and strong pool of resources. Take, for example, 1871: Chicago’s incubator for tech community entrepreneurs. Since opening in 2012, 1871 has been so successful that in October 2014, it announced an expansion into the areas of food tech, education tech, financial tech, the Industrial Internet of Things, and veteran- and women-owned startups.
The high-tech and entrepreneurial resource pool is supplied by several universities in the Chicago area, including Northwestern, DePaul, University of Chicago and Northern Illinois. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides the fifth-best undergraduate engineering program in the country. According to GradSpot LLC, Chicago is the No. 1 city for recent graduates. ii
With a strong and growing talent pool, and resources in place such as incubators and venture capital, Chicago is an appealing destination for established tech companies and startups alike – one Accenture believes will continue to grow and thrive as a digital hub.
Chicago appeals to Millennials as a metropolitan area that promises job opportunity. A vibrant cultural center, the city is home to a wide variety of festivals, including Lollapalooza, one of the largest and longest-running music festivals in the nation. What really sets Chicago apart as the next Silicon Valley is its Midwestern culture. For both high-tech talent and companies, that is an appealing draw—one that helps position Chicago as a tech destination of choice.