Taylor Geospatial Institute is expected to act as a hub for providing training and jobs in technology, science and computation, national security, smart farming, and healthcare. It will fund research and develop programs intended to draw top scientists to St. Louis. The Institute aims to build a world-class, interdisciplinary special science research infrastructure that will contribute to the overall effort to develop, maintain, and retain talent in the state of Missouri. The Institute is part of an already robust geospatial landscape consisting of 350 companies.
In March 2022, Meta (formerly the Facebook company) announced plans to build its newest hyperscale data center in Kansas City, MO. The facility will be the first of its kind in the state with Meta investing more than $800 million and supporting up to 100 jobs in the region. Golden Plains Technology Park, where Meta will be located, was purposefully built for data centers.
“Kansas City is the most connected region in the U.S. with more than 5.5 million miles of fiber deployed. This infrastructure, coupled with a dynamic and robust talent pool, provides Meta the resources it needs for long-term success in our market,” said Tim Cowden, President, and CEO of the Kansas City Area Development Council. “Meta’s selection of Kansas City, joining many other global tech brands in our region, puts a spotlight on our thriving tech industry. The region’s new state-of-the-art single terminal airport opening in March 2023 and our collaborative business community make Kansas City a top location of choice for other tech companies seeking growth.”
IN DENVER, HIGH CONCENTRATION OF MILLENNIALS
According to CBRE’s 2022 Scoring Tech Talent Report, around 33% of 58 major tech companies in the U.S. are located in Denver, CO including Amazon and Google, making it one of the top markets for tech talent. One of the most notable characteristics of high tech clusters is the concentration of millennials (25-39 year olds) and Gen Z (20-24 year olds) in the workforce in that market. That is because 54.9% of the workforce within the tech industry in the U.S. is made up of millennials and Gen Zers. Denver has one of the densest concentrations of millennials living there with about one-quarter (24.1%) of the population falling in that age range, above the national average of 20.5%. The region also boasts 47.9% of software engineers employed in the tech industry.
To attract and retain these two generations, a location has to offer what’s important to them, and what has come to the forefront when they were surveyed is that quality of life, flexibility in work-life balance, and meaningful work are all important. Denver rises to the top of the list with unparalleled lifestyle, exceptional climate for higher education, strong entrepreneurial and startup support, and civic appeal through infrastructure and transit, health care, and arts and culture. These are the quality of life factors that draw young tech talent.
Equally as important is the technology ecosystem the region has been developing since the Great Recession in 2008.
“At that point in time, the city decided on a new strategy, and we call it our Startup’s Go Up, Grow Up strategy where we are really focused on growing our own technology companies and, and start up companies,” says Deborah Cameron, Chief Business Development Officer at Denver Economic Development & Opportunity. “I really think that launched our tech ecosystem, and it has been the kind of the origin of what has made our community so successful in terms of attracting tech talent. That, and of course our incredible location here at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. You know so many of the tech talent workforce wants to be a part of that outdoor ethos, and that environmental sustainability.”
A collaboration between the city’s economic development office and the Downtown Denver Partnership, the central business district organization, resulted in the creation of a city owned facility as a gathering hub for the start up scene. The start up space offers coworking rentable desk space as an early-stage incubator offering community workshops, programming pitch events, and even post accelerator services.
The other half of the equation lies in continuously supporting the economic and career mobility of Denver’s existing residents. The city works to upskill and re-skill the resident workforce living in Denver. The city’s work to maintain and build its momentum as a fast-growing and highly desirable economy includes lifting up the lower-skill and middle-skill talent so that these workers can also enjoy the benefits of the thriving economy.
“Our efforts are focused on short-term credentials, through what we call an alternative education provider,” says Cameron. “So, there is a lot of tech-oriented groups that are doing short term boot camps focused on getting you entry level credentials. Or, if you’ve got skills in one area that are a little outdated, you can take this boot camp and, and that will get you a newer credential. We work with our training providers, whether it be universities or these alternative education providers or community colleges, so that they can design and build the training that companies need for the occupations that are going to be most in demand.”
To this end, Denver is in its second round of U.S. Department of Labor grant funding for the innovative Technology in Colorado Partnership (TEC-P), which is an upskilling and re-skilling initiative designed to help workers stay competitive in the technology field. In its first four-year grant, TEC-P helped mid-career professionals reboot their careers with additional technical training, but also indirect supports around job search, resume preparation, interviewing techniques, and even coaching around improving their personal branding to regain a competitive edge in a field where skills and market value go out of date rapidly.