Not Just for Layovers: 10 Off-the-Radar Tech Hubs

Thriving tech markets are emerging in unlikely places, which means IT professionals no longer have to pack up their families and move to another state to find the best opportunities for career advancement.

"This article is a joke, isnt it?" an eWEEK reader asked in response to our story, "Beyond the Valley: 10 Blooming U.S. Cities for Tech." "You didnt mention Austin, Houston or Denver, all home to major players and startups, but you give New Jersey an honorable mention?"

This was just the beginning of the feedback. Comments such as "you guys have no clue" and "this article is misleading garbage" were flung into our e-mail inboxes and across our phone lines. Representatives from chambers of commerce of cities not on the list called us through the morning, eager to tell us where our logic had strayed.

The majority of the responses boiled down to the same concern: Nobody really knows if Silicon Valley could be re-created elsewhere, but there are no shortages of locales boasting potential.

Guy Kawasaki, CEO of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Garage Technology Ventures and an original Apple Computer employee, reminds people that Silicon Valley emerged without having any central strategy.

"There has never been any master plan for the creation of Silicon Valley. What stands before you is an amalgamation of hard work, luck, greed, and serendipity but not planning. Indeed, Silicon Valley has probably worked because there was no plan," Kawasaki wrote in his blog.

Kawasaki argues that for any town or region to compete against the Valley, it has to go one step further than "beating" it.

"Aim higher than merely trying to re-create Silicon Valley. You should try to kick our butt instead. Thats true entrepreneurship."

In this report, we round up cities that few may have anticipated five or 10 years ago would sustain thriving tech markets. Each is carving out a unique niche for itself, and all have the potential to hone the right combination of ingredients for the next tech epicenter.

Best of all, this is great news for IT professionals, who no longer have to pack up their families and move to a tech hub to find the best opportunities for career advancement—most already live in one.

Next Page: 10 emerging tech markets.