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5 More Tech Markets Emerging In Unexpected Places

Growing local tech industries account for one-fifth of all office leasing activity nationwide, according to the latest CBRE Tech 30 report. Major coastal office markets are enjoying the benefits of tech growth, but they are not alone. 

In the report, CBRE tapped an assortment of North American secondary and tertiary metros as the next 10 tech markets to watch. 

Previously, Bisnow profiled five of these markets. The following are the other five with significant employment in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, as classified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas strip

Number of metro-area STEM jobs (2018): 26,550

STEM job increase year over year: 5.7%

A notable tech company in metro Las Vegas: Hosho, a leader in blockchain security. In 2017, Nevada passed first-of-its-kind legislation blocking local governments from taxing or imposing other requirements on blockchain use. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the move has resulted in a favorable local climate for blockchain startups.

Why Las Vegas can sustain tech growth (not including quality of life, because everyone says that):

"Two factors will help sustain our tech growth: access and net migration to the city," Las Vegas Economic and Urban Development Director Bill Arent said.

The city is accessible to national and global tech markets and supply chains in a way few cities its size are, with 42 million visitors annually and direct flight access to Europe, the Pacific Rim, South America and the Middle East, Arent said.

"We lead the nation in net migration into the city, which helps us not only grow tech talent locally but also attract talent," he said. 

The city also has a diversifying economy. Las Vegas is maturing beyond its roots as an entertainment mecca, attracting a variety of businesses. According to LinkedIn's 2018 Workforce Report, the city's employment base is expanding because of good weather, a low cost of living and no state income tax.

In the context of a growing local economy, the skills most in demand in metro Las Vegas include software modeling and process design, and electronic and electrical engineering, the report says. 

Moreover, startups and emerging tech companies in the Las Vegas market are not alone in hiring people with technical skills. Airlines and casinos are also looking for that expertise, according to the report.


Downtown Miami

Number of metro-area STEM jobs (2018): 93,530

STEM job increase year over year: 2.2%

A notable tech company in metro Miami: Magic Leap, which specializes in augmented-reality goggles. The company has already raised $2.3B, an exceptional amount for a startup, and recently obtained $280M from Japanese cellphone service provider NTT DoCoMo, as part of a new partnership between the two.

Why Miami can sustain tech growth (not including quality of life, because everyone says that):

Among the 20 finalists for Amazon's second headquarters, Miami was something of a surprise, since it is not generally known for its tech industry. 

“Historically, the economy here hasn’t been diverse," Pipeline co-founder Philippe Houdard told Curbed. "But it’s changing, and the tech sector has played a key role.”

The change is far enough along that investor Moishe Mana, who has massive CRE holdings in Miami, recently launched leasing on six floors at 100 East Flagler St. in Downtown Miami that is specifically targeting blockchain companies.

Also, Miami, known in other contexts as a hub of international business, is attracting international tech startups. According to the Beacon Council, which promotes economic development in South Florida, these include IT specialist Technocom from Spain, fraud prevention company Clearsale from Brazil and virtual reality company Dream VR, also from Spain.


Downtown Milwaukee

Number of metro-area STEM jobs (2018): 51,613

STEM job increase year over year: 10.7%

A notable tech company in metro Milwaukee: Johnson Controls, a specialist in electronics and HVAC equipment for buildings.

Why Milwaukee can sustain tech growth (not including quality of life, because everyone says that):

Southeast Wisconsin is no longer just a manufacturing region, said James Hischke, Northwestern Mutual's senior director, tech advancement and outreach, noting that the tech industry has a $27.6B annual impact on the local economy.

Low costs and a business-friendly environment help attract businesses to the region, including those interested in tech innovation. American Family Insurance, for example, is planning to open a Downtown Milwaukee office with a focus on tech jobs. The company is also providing $20M to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for data science initiatives.

For its part, Hischke said, Northwestern Mutual recognizes that tech innovation is important to the future of the region, and it is supporting organizations to foster tech growth in greater Milwaukee.

"In the last year and a half, dozens of local companies and organizations — who share the goal of growing technology and innovation in southeast Wisconsin — have joined forces to advance the Milwaukee Tech Hub movement," Hischke said.

New Orleans

New Orleans

Number of metro-area STEM jobs (2018): 21,870

STEM job increase year over year: 7.2%

A notable tech company in metro New Orleans: DXC, an IT services company, which opened its New Orleans Digital Transformation Center last year. The facility will create about 2,000 new jobs over the next five years.

Why New Orleans can sustain tech growth (not including quality of life, because everyone says that):

Traditionally, New Orleans has been a tough sell for tech companies, but there has been a stream of operations opened in the region in recent years. 

According to Greater New Orleans' Matt Wolfe, companies such as GE, DXC Technology, inXile Entertainment, Accruent and High Voltage Software have chosen New Orleans for their operations in recent years, drawn by low costs, including low commercial real estate costs, and aggressive tax incentives that provides deep rebates on software development costs.

Tech companies founded in New Orleans include Lucid, a market research platform, and Levelset (formerly zlien), a construction lien management software solution, both of which have raised significant investment funding.

Norfolk, Virginia

The aircraft carrier USS George Washington passes Downtown Norfolk, Va., during her transit down the Elizabeth River from Norfolk Naval Station to Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va.

Number of metro-area STEM jobs (2018): 48,670

STEM job increase year over year: -0.6%

A notable tech entity in metro Norfolk: U.S. Navy

Why Norfolk can sustain tech growth (not including quality of life, because everyone says that):

According to Jared Chalk, the city of Norfolk's interim economic development director, Norfolk's two high-speed two trans-Atlantic cable landings will be a game-changer for the city. 

"We are the only metropolitan area between Miami and New York where groups of these trans-Atlantic cables are landing," Chalk said.

The cables provide ultra-fast fiber service that can serve as a job creation opportunity, turning the region into an International Digital Port, Chalk said. The cables make the city the closest landing spot to the major data center hub focused around Ashburn, Virginia.

Norfolk also has an annual infusion of military personnel transitioning into its civilian labor pool, which makes the region a good place to find qualified tech talent, Chalk said. With the world’s largest Naval base in Norfolk, nearly 14,000 personnel exit the military each year, and about 8,000 of them stay in the region.