There is a ferocious debate among business, employment, technology and urban planning publications of late over the location of the next big U.S. technology hub.
Some put their money on the Rocky Mountain region, others point to massive land purchases by Google and Microsoft in potato country, but one of the things almost unanimously agreed on is that it will not be in Silicon Valley.
For one, the cost of living is staggeringly high. A $70,000 salary in the San Francisco valley doesnt even ensure that an individual would break even, with costs of living roughly 40 percent higher than in Sacramento.
"To some extent, Silicon Valley has been a victim of its own success, causing the cost base of its companies to accelerate," said Paul Forster, CEO and co-founder of Indeed.com, a Stamford, Conn.-based job search engine.
"Not everyone wants to live the California lifestyle. There are places with a higher quality of life and tech-challenging positions," said Brandon Courtney, vice-president of Spherion professional services, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based staffing and recruitment firm.
Second, realities of technology today allow for a certain amount of scattering of hot-spots.
"The reality of technology today is that with relatively low costs, you could build the infrastructure that would allow you to be a Silicon-like valley. But, there will only be one Silicon Valley," said Courtney.
The shifting employment market creates an environment where workers have some say in where they can go to find a good job.
"Because of the expanding economy and the reinvestment in technology, the demand for skilled professionals continues to strengthen.
The paradigm of the market has shifted from employer-driven to candidate-driven, with an added focus on employee retention," said Courtney.
In his keynote at the May Xtech Conference in Amsterdam, technology essayist and entrepreneur Paul Graham asked, "Could you reproduce Silicon Valley elsewhere, or is there something unique about it?" He hypothesized that as few as two elements could cause the formation of a new tech nucleus.
"I think you only need two kinds of people to create a technology hub: rich people and nerds. Theyre the limiting reagents in the reaction that produces startups, because theyre the only ones present when startups get started. Everyone else will move," said Graham.
While not everyone agrees with Graham, most concur that the right epicenter will draw the masses in the way that the San Francisco valley once did. Everyone has a list, and while each has the potential to spell out the next Silicon-like Valley, only one will.