November 26, 2012
Silicon Prairie
Posted by David Zaring

According to the Times, Silicon Prairie is the big new thing, and I'm proud of the fellow Iowans who got the paper to run a story making that claim (admittedly, on a holiday weekend, but still).  Here's the evidence that Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri have become a hub of entrepreneurial tech:

Although a relatively small share of the country’s “angel investment” deals — 5.7 percent — are done in the Great Plains, the region was just one of two (the other is the Southwest) that increased its share of them from the first half of 2011 to the first half of this year.

That's it.  The rest is just anecdote, layered with plenty of hedging.  You can, however, tell yourself a story why Silicon Prairie might be real.  Tech can be done anywhere, and so might as well be done on a flat, featureless landscape; the Midwest does well in creating high quality, not-so-high-wage white collar; and universities like Iowa State (home of the first computer!) have aggresively tried to prove their worth to the state by fostering spin-offs.  

Will this conlfuence of factors create a real technological hub, to the extent that a "hub" encompassing hundreds of miles of farmland even makes sense?  My guess is that it simply reflects a transformation of the economy going on everywhere, and not just in the fields of dreams.  But it is nice to have a label.

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