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The Long History of America’s Leading High-Tech Hubs
Richard Florida / The Atlantic Cities / September 11, 2013
The study, from Kauffman’s Dane Stangler, compares the location of leading high-tech hubs, based on their start-up density, in 2010 and 1990, and finds that little has changed. The nation’s leading tech hubs in 2010 are more or less the same as they were twenty years earlier. Drawing from a concept first introduced by the economist Paul David, who uses the example of the persistence of the established yet inconvenient QWERTY keyboard, the study argues that leading tech clusters are highly “path-dependent.” The report references and builds upon the study from Engine‘s Ian Hathaway and the Kauffman Foundation on leading high-tech centers, which I wrote about here last month.
The table below, from the report, compares the nation’s top 20 large metros in terms of high-tech start-up density in 1990 and 2010. San Jose leads in both periods. And although the order has shifted a bit, every single one of the top 10 metro areas in 2010 was among the top 20 in 1990. A bold name highlights metros that either fell off the chart after 1990 or jumped into the top 20 by 2010. Note how few new additions to the list there are.
Only five of the top 20 in 2010 — Portland, Wilmington, Phoenix, Kansas City and New Orleans — weren’t among the most tech-dense cities twenty years ago. Even metros that have begun to climb the high tech ranks recently, like Kansas City and Portland, really “owe their emerging entrepreneurial ecosystems to many years of spinoffs and entrepreneurial spawning,” the report notes.