On the road to becoming America’s largest tech hub, Silicon Valley and the Bay Area experienced rapid growth. This came at a cost, however, as the area’s quality of life deteriorated and housing costs skyrocketed. The last ten years have looked a lot different than the early 2000s. Now, growing tech hubs like Austin can learn a lot from San Francisco.  

Quality of life is one of the most critical factors in successfully attracting and retaining tech workers. If Austin can crack the code to substantial growth without compromising quality of life, it could rival the Bay Area. 

The California region did not proactively respond to population growth, therefore missing key opportunities to achieve sustainability. The housing crisis was exacerbated when construction didn’t keep up with the influx of new people, and housing prices became exorbitant. Similarly, investments in public transportation lagged and horrible traffic. 

Tech industry growth can be a huge economic boost for Austin like it was for the Valley. Those companies and talent offer opportunities for community reinvestment that can attract the next generation of innovators and strengthen the appeal that has made it attractive in the first place. But it needs to avoid some of the mistakes and miscalculations that San Francisco and the Valley made.

Thankfully, early signs show Austin residents are willing to confront these quality of life issues head on. Residents are aiming to improve the city’s transportation infrastructure, accommodate growth, and encourage sustainability. 

At One America Works, we support emerging tech hubs, growing companies, and talented individuals. Learn more about how growing cities can successfully and sustainably attract and retain talent in this issue of The Mid-Point. Follow us on social to stay up-to-date with the latest news and events.

Inside this issue

  • What Austin Can Learn From San Francisco’s Mistakes
  • Work-From-Anywhere Perks Give Silicon Valley a New Edge in Talent War
  • Austin tries new homeless health care program as it prepares to enforce camping ban
  • How Rising Tech Hub Cities are Dealing with Homelessness
  • The Bridge Interviews Columbus Managing Director

Tech industry growth can be a huge boost for Austin, enabling it to reinvest in its community, attract the next generation of innovators and strengthen the appeal that has made it attractive in the first place. But that’s only possible if Austin avoids San Francisco mistakes.

It’s tough to find a healthy balance between building enough housing for new arrivals and ensuring that the city remains affordable for essential community members, such as teachers, firefighters, entry-level tech workers and Austin’s vibrant creative class. However, housing development and accessible housing are not mutually exclusive. Austin residents are being intentional and trying to find a happy medium that bodes well for the city’s future. San Francisco failed to confront challenges head-on and paid a high price ⎯ losing the very people who gave San Francisco its unique culture. Read More

Some of the biggest names in tech aren’t just allowing existing workers to relocate out of the Bay Area, they are also starting to hire in places they hadn’t often recruited from before. The result is the most geographically distributed tech labor market to date. That’s leading to above-market rates for workers in smaller hubs, forcing local companies to raise wages to keep up with the cost of living and fend off deeper-pocketed rivals from California, Seattle and New York.

The democratization of tech jobs is broadening Silicon Valley’s reach and influence, rather than diminishing it. Longer term, companies in smaller hubs are hoping the current pinch is temporary and that eventually they’ll have access to the new tech migrants—especially if larger tech companies start reversing work-from-home policies—easing their labor shortage and enjoying a livelier tech scene and the venture capital that comes with it. Read More

As staff work on educating the homeless community about Proposition B, which reinstitutes a camping ban, and identifying locations for sanctioned encampments, they’re also rolling out a new program that focuses on behavioral health. The program will establish a Health Care for the Homeless Health and Wellness Center. Integral Care’s specialty intensive mental health team is leading services for the initiative.

Brice said the program, which he announced Wednesday, is in partnership with the Alliance, Integral Care, Downtown Austin Community Court (DACC) and the Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST). Brice told KXAN Thursday the program had a soft launch in April. Read more

How rising tech hub cities are dealing with homelessness

🏠 Illinois has provided emergency rental assistance throughout the pandemic in an effort to prevent evictions, and in May, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that $1.5 billion in housing assistance would be made available to residents.

🖥️  The pandemic was supposed to lead to a great tech diaspora. Freed of their offices and after-work klatches, the Bay Area’s tech workers were said to be roaming America, searching for a better life in cities like Miami and Austin, Texas — where the weather is warmer, the homes are cheaper and state income taxes don’t exist.

📉  Increased funding for the city’s homeless residents comes as Chicago has experienced a nearly four percent decrease in homelessness over last year, the lowest number on record since 2007. The decrease, as reported in the city’s annual Homeless Point-in-Time (PIT) Count and Survey Report, found that 5,450 people in Chicago are experiencing homelessness as compared to 5,657 last year. This is third year in a row that saw the number of homeless residents in Chicago decline.

Hear from One Columbus Managing Director -Matt McQuade

One Columbus is an economic development organization for the 11-county Columbus Region. Working with local and state partners, One Columbus serves as the business location resource for companies across Central Ohio and around the world as they grow, innovate, and compete within the global economy. 

Their experienced team has worked with hundreds of companies and helped to secure over $10 billion of capital investment, over 50,000 direct jobs, and more than $2 billion of new payroll across the Columbus Region.

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