One of Austin’s many nicknames is Silicon Hill, a nod to its role as the major tech hub of the American South. It’s been touted by Forbes, Tech.co, Venture Beat and more as the fastest-growing technology scene in the US, and that trend isn’t stopping anytime soon.
What makes Austin such a perfect home for both giants and up-and-coming startups? First, Austin is much more affordable both for the individual and for corporate entities, with a lower cost of living and doing business than Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. Companies like that Texas doesn’t have state taxes, and employees like that they don’t have to spend their entire paycheck on housing, groceries and utilities. The strong presence of local universities means that there’s already a supply of talented and tech-savvy young people to hire to keep up with the growing demand for mobile and web developers. The Austin Chamber of Commerce is deliberately tech-friendly, supporting startups and tech properties in their growth and hosting events like bimonthly investor/startup mixers. Texas is a leader generally in business incentives, with $19 billion in incentives for companies each year. With all of these factors combined, Austin actually beat out San Francisco for Savill’s top overall pick for global tech city in 2015 — Venture Beat thinks that Austin is doing tech in a more “organic, sustainable manner” than its West Coast counterpart.
What the Tech Economy Means for Workers
The technology industry makes up over 12% of Austin’s jobs, and the sector only continues to grow. In terms of job offerings, the industry’s possibilities are more diverse and flexible than may be the case in other tech hubs; in addition to hardware and software development, Austin hosts biotech industry leaders like Whole Foods and Sweet Leaf Tea, creating an economic ecosystem with rich variation and sustainability. Each innovation job goes on to create five more jobs in the local economy, which demonstrates that tech in Austin is mutually supporting local economic success, not sapping it.
Startups and the Future
For startup entrepreneurs, the low overheads and wealth of talent — along with local features like a wide availability and maker and co-working spaces — mean that Austin offers a low-risk, high-reward environment for developing an up-and-coming tech property. A strong culture of networking and mutual interaction create opportunities for startup entrepreneurs to learn from and work with each other, which helps explain why Austin-based startups like Bioware and Fancied have gone on to success.
Given the fertile environment in Austin for workers in various roles in the industry, it’s no surprise that many are noting a kind of exodus from Silicon Valley and the Bay Area towards Austin and other less traditional tech hubs, especially amongst those ages 31 to 40 — and big-name companies are taking notice, with Facebook opening an office in Austin as just one example. It’s a dream location for anyone looking for work, a place where demand for talent exceeds the supply as growth in the sector continuing to skyrocket — with no end in sight.