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Forget Silicon Valley. When it comes to technology companies, Atlanta; Austin, Texas; and Boise, Idaho, are where it's at these days. We checked to see what kinds of companies are booming in these burgs, what attracts entrepreneurs to the cities and what areas will be growing over the next decade.
Metro population:4.26 million
Telecommunications, software development, transportation logistics, biosciences and manufacturing are all major technology areas to which Atlanta has staked a big claim, says Hans Gant, senior vice president of Economic Development with the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.
Gant also sees a trend toward foreign technology companies locating in Atlanta. "We have focused our efforts on attracting and growing what we call 'Industries of the Mind,'" he says. Established research institutions (like Emory University and Georgia Tech), a major international airport, incubators and a large support-services infrastructure make Atlanta an attractive big-city location for technology entrepreneurs.
Metro population:1.25 million
Austin boasts about 1,800 technology companies, some 1,100 of which are small businesses. Carolyn Stark, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group Austin Technology Council, says the hot areas are software development, semiconductors, chip design and manufacturing. Stark sees future growth in nanotechnology, biomechanics, clean energy and wireless. "Austin has a strong venture capital community, the legal and accounting systems to support start-ups, a good university with technologies coming out of it and a nice quality of life," Stark says. Incubators and a pool of retired tech executives offering expertise to the growing companies add to Austin's reputation as a hotbed of technology.
Shirl Boyce, vice president of economic development with the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, says Boise is home to more than 300 technology businesses, including Micron, which was founded there. Says Boyce, "We're really trying to promote and help [technology] entrepreneurs because we are a very entrepreneurial community."
Boise is somewhat isolated, but the quality of life, low electricity and gas costs, and a budding engineering program at Boise State University are feeding growth in software, research and development, and the silicon industry.