Many cities and states across the country have designed incentives and programs to appeal to high-tech companies. Here is just a small sampling of U.S. cities you probably didn't think of before-one in each region-that offer a wealth of great opportunities for tech businesses.
Northeast: Camden, New Jersey
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) is developing the Camden Waterfront Technology Center in Camden, New Jersey. The building includes office space marketed to small high-tech businesses, and the EDA offers special financial benefits to tenants, including construction improvement allowances to customize the space and make it more affordable. Tenants can also obtain capital to grow through several EDA financing programs designed specifically for high-tech companies, as well as other EDA bond-financing, loan, guarantee and incentive programs.
For more information, call (609) 292-0369, or go to www.njeda.com/realestate.aspfor project updates.
Midwest: Madison, Wisconsin
Madison is reaping the benefits of Wisconsin's Technology Zone Program, an economic development initiative that provides tax credits to high-tech businesses locating or expanding in one of eight technology zones statewide.
Last November, the governor signed legislation fixing a flaw in the program that prevented companies organized as LLCs or partnerships from competing equally for the available credits. For more information, go to www.commerce.wi.gov/CD/CD-bed-tz-general.html.
West: Tucson, Arizona
Business, education and government in Tucson, Pima County and southern Arizona are working hard to create a more favorable economic environment for high-tech business development. As a result, area companies are actively using the SBA Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer federal grant programs. While southern Arizona represents approximately 20 percent of Arizona's population, it has historically accounted for more than 50 percent of the federal dollars awarded to the program in Arizona.
"This area is doing a lot to harness local assets and attract attention," says Rob Koepp, research fellow at the Milken Institute in Santa Monica, California, and author of Clusters of Creativity: Enduring Lessons on Innovations and Entrepreneurship From Silicon Valley and Europe's Silicon Fen. The area may be even more attractive to high-tech entrepreneurs in the future, as Arizona's Governor's Council on Innovation and Technology plans to introduce legislation in 2005 that will offer incentives to high-tech companies.
For more information, visit Southern Arizona's High-Tech Connection at www.sazhightechconnect.com.
South: Lafayette, Louisiana
While it seems an unlikely pick, Lafayette, with its progressive University of Louisiana, Lafayette, and the city's entrepreneurial spirit, is doing a lot of things to attract high-tech businesses.
For example, a state-funded $18-million world-class technology center, called the Acadiana Technology Immersion Center, is scheduled to be built in the university's research park in 2005. The hallmark of the center will be its 3-D data visualizations. "In the past, you could only get access to this type of [technology] if you were an engineer at Shell Oil who could afford the millions of dollars [that it costs]," says Koepp. "But this center will be publicly available, so small and [midsize] companies can make use of it."
With the first building already rented out, plans have begun for phase two-a second building providing office space for small high-tech businesses, as well as individualized incentives to get started there, according to Keith Thibodeaux, technology manager for the Lafayette Economic Development Authority.
"You don't usually think of Lafayette and high- tech in same breath," says Koepp, "but, with their work in oil and gas, they have a lot of engineering firms and very well-trained people."
For more information, visit the Lafayette Economic Development Authority Web site at www.lafayette.org.
Melissa Campanelli is a technology writer in Brooklyn, New York, who has covered technology for Mobile Computing & Communications and Sales & Marketing Management magazines. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.