But there’s more to the U.S. tech sector than big names like Amazon, Meta, Twitter or Microsoft. In 2022, it became clearer than ever that the health of the U.S. tech sector cannot simply be measured by what’s going on in traditional tech hubs like Silicon Valley or Seattle.
Away from the coasts, tech firms continue to raise capital and grow, and tech professionals continue to advance their careers. These counterfactuals may be harder to spot, but they shouldn’t be overlooked. They paint a more complete picture of how the U.S. tech sector is evolving and becoming more geographically diverse.
One America Works is focused on supporting and accelerating this evolution, and we are most active in 13 cities across the Silicon Heartland. In 2022, these cities had a remarkable year, even in the face of post-pandemic uncertainty and economic headwinds. Here are just some of the highlights:
Business leaders and economic development officials in metro Atlanta have made clean energy technologies a major focus of their efforts, and it’s paying big dividends. The latest milestone: In November, Norwegian battery startup FREYR announced plans for a $2.57 billion factory in Coweta County. The new facility is expected to create more than 700 cleantech jobs. According to Metro AtlantChamber President and CEO Katie Kirkpatrick, the region’s “vibrant research ecosystem” and “diversity of talent” were major factors in landing the multi-billion dollar investment in the region’s economy.
Cleantech was also a major theme of tech sector expansion in Austin during 2022. Tesla’s new Giga Texas plant opened in April and operations there continue to ramp up. The plant currently builds Model Y crossover vehicles and over the long term, Tesla has projected a total investment of $10 billion at its Austin-area facility.
Even with this year’s post-pandemic economic uncertainty, the tech sector continues to be a bright spot in the Chicago-area economy. Over the summer, Chicago had the 5th most tech job openings of any U.S. city. As 2022 comes to a close, a slew of firms in the region are still actively recruiting tech talent, including telehealth provider HealthJoy, data analytics firm Ocient, fintech company DFIN and Cat Digital, the digital and technology arm of Caterpillar.
Major investments such as the groundbreaking of Intel’s $20 billion semiconductor manufacturing plant and Honda’s $3.5 billion investment in electric vehicle battery manufacturing garnered most of the attention in the Columbus region this year. But smaller tech firms are also flourishing, which we saw first hand when One America Works brought together hundreds of startups and venture-capital investors for the Connecting the Coasts to the Heartland Conference in Columbus during October.
Tech firms in the Dallas-Fort Worth area posted another strong year in 2022. Dallas-headquartered Signify Health, which completed a $564 million IPO just last year, agreed to be acquired by pharmacy giant CVS Health for $8 billion. And early stage firms in Dallas continued to be magnets for venture capital, including enterprise software startup SmartMoving ($41.5 million) and fintech firms Highline ($15 million) and Deposits ($5 million).
This year demonstrated the resilience of the tech sector in the Denver region – and how tech firms of all sizes are a key driver for the region’s broader economy. Despite economic headwinds, the number of tech job openings in Denver during the first half of 2022 was 40% higher than the same period in 2021. Real estate experts at CBRE, meanwhile, credited the technology sector as “the strongest driver of office-leasing activity in Denver.”
The Indianapolis region attracted major tech sector investments this year, including a $1.8 billion semiconductor research and production facility. SkyWater Technology’s investment is expected to generate 750 jobs in West Lafayette, home to Purdue University and about 65 miles northeast of Indianapolis. State officials also highlighted an additional $300 million of semiconductor investments from a series of firms – WestGate One, NHanced Semiconductors, Everspin Technologies Trusted Semiconductor Solutions and Reliable MicroSystems – which are expected to bring a further 549 jobs to the Hoosier State.
This year saw rural fiber-optic network firm Conexon continue to expand, through the acquisition of a Canadian digital marketing firm and a new partnership in the U.S. Northeast. Conexon’s tech sector impact is felt well beyond the Kansas City region, because it has worked with rural electric cooperatives to connect more than 500,000 rural Americans to fiber broadband service. Demonstrating the diversity of tech business models in Kansas City, biotechnology firm Catalent also announced an expansion that’s expected to bring 50 new jobs to the region.
During 2022, Nashville cemented its status as a center for tech talent along with diversity of its tech ecosystem. “Nashville is home to some of the brightest talent in the country and we’re excited to be part of this community,” declared Boston Consulting Group, which expanded into Nashville this year. Building on its thriving healthcare industry, Nashville-based Rootine – which has developed individually customized nutritional supplements – raised $10 million in Series A funding from hometown venture firm Relevance Ventures. Meanwhile, the synergies between Nashville’s music and tech sectors helped spur a $9 million Series B round for Soundstripe, a subscription music and video service for creative professionals.
As 2022 comes to a close, Taiwanese semiconductor firm TSMC is continuing to build out its $12 billion manufacturing plant in north Phoenix. The firm’s investment is a magnet for all kinds of other tech and financial infrastructure, including a new presence in Phoenix from the state-owned Bank of Taiwan. TSMC’s plant is expected to come online in 2024.
Venture capital investment accelerated in Pittsburgh during 2022. By the third quarter, funding rounds totaling more than $500 million had been reported, eclipsing the full-year total from 2021 with three months to spare. Startups behind the capital raises included healthcare AI firm Abridge ($12.5 million) and agricultural robotics firm Bloomfield ($6 million). “We are a tech city,” Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey declared at a One America Works event in May. Later, in October, One America Works brought together tech industry experts for a strategy session on boosting access to capital for Pittsburgh startups – including from local VC funds – and other ways to build on the region’s strengths as a tech hub.
The region’s tech economy was shielded from the downturns seen in other areas of the country, especially Silicon Valley. For example: In October there were 12,500 open tech jobs in Raleigh, a 35% increase from August, according to the North Carolina Technology Association. “Headlines continue to mention layoffs and hiring freezes, but tech positions in North Carolina remain on an upward trajectory,” Andrea Fleming, the association’s director of talent and workforce development, told the The News & Observer. Major capital raises during the year included sports technology firm Teamworks ($50 million) and productivity software startup Allstacks ($12.3 million).
Salt Lake City
In 2022, Salt Lake City reaffirmed its status as one of the nation’s top tech hubs. In July, a CBRE report identified a 29% increase in the size of the tech workforce over the past five years, and a 51% increase in computer engineering jobs over the same period. “Salt Lake City has proved year-over-year to be a top tech hub,” Eric Smith, one of CBRE’s tech and media sector experts, told Utah Business. “With a massive increase in computer engineer degrees and a consistent destination for millennial employment, Salt Lake City highly deserves to be a top 20 market.”