America's Top Tech Cities Probably Aren't the Ones You Think

When you think of the tech sector, you probably think of Silicon Valley. But recent data suggests that high-tech industries have expanded their base far beyond the Bay Area.

Recently, Richard Florida, director of the Martin Prosperity Institute, published a new edition of "Rise of the Creative Class," including a Tech Index that ranks cities and metro areas based on concentration of tech companies, patents per capita, and average annual patent growth. Using these measures, Florida arrived at 20 top tech cities.

The full list is here, and definitely worth a look. The following metro areas are a few of the biggest surprises for us, in that most people probably don't think of them as tech centers.

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA: Number one on Florida's list, Seattle is associated more with coffee or music than tech. (At least for folks from out of town.) But the greater Seattle area is home to a number of tech companies, including Microsoft, Boeing, and Amazon.com.

Burlington-South Burlington, VT: Most non-residents probably think of Burlington either in terms of ski vacations or the University of Vermont, but the city is also home to IBM and GE Healthcare.

Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI: Tied with Madison, WI for No. 17 on Florida's list, the greater Minneapolis-St.Paul area is home to Medtronic and 3M, as well as the University of Minnesota.

Why is it important to figure out the new tech centers of the US? Florida makes a compelling argument that a strong tech base is helpful to the economic success of the area.

"Technology is the first of my three "T"s of economic development, the other two being talent and tolerance. Each one on its own is a necessary but insufficient condition for growth. For real innovation and sustained economic growth, a community must offer all three," he says.

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(Photo Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives/Flickr)

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