The Most Underrated Tech Cities

By Amanda Postma - Oct. 20, 2020

There are many factors that make a city underrated. And chances are that most of those factors are good reasons for you to move there.

From the number of jobs to how many workers in that specific field and even opportunities for growth all of these factors can make you realize how great that city actually is.

So that’s what we set out to do. But we didn’t find just any cities. We found ones that were great tech hubs.

From Worchester to Wilmington, you’re probably going to want to live in any of these 10 cities by the end of this article.

1. Worcester, Massachusetts

It may be small, but Worcester packs quite a punch when it comes to the tech community

worcester,

Total Number of Tech Jobs: 6,226
Percent of Tech Workers: 7.0%
Growth Expected: 67.77%

As the second smallest city on our list, you might not expect a whole lot from Worcester, Massachusetts. But the city packs a nice punch of technology, hence being underrated.

Per the population, there are 6,226 jobs throughout the city. That makes up 7% of the workforce being tech workers. And it’s only going to get better.

The city as a whole is expected to grow in the tech scene by 67.77%. With that amount of growth, it’s no surprise that there is talent waiting in the wings.

From having access to some pretty great tech schools to being a great startup hub is just two of the many great things about this city.

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It’s not just a great tech city, but it’s also a great city as a whole. In addition to being extremely cost-competitive, the city supports a thriving economy.

And with the city’s Chamber Workforce and Education Partnership, it’s clear that Worcester is very supportive of a young, educated workforce.

Learning About Tech

The city of Worcester is big on education. But something that is even more important is the presence of tech education. They start off the possibility of education in tech at a young age. From Worcester Technical High School to Worcester Polytechnic Institute, you could get a high school diploma and a college degree in tech all in the same place. Not many cities offer that as an option, which is what makes Worcester so great and underrated at the same time.

Tech Startups to Be on the Lookout for

There’s a lot of great new startups in Worcester. That may be due to the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce investing in a new program a few years back. The StartUp Worcester program was designed to retain college students in the area by providing support for their businesses. Just a few to look out for include:

  • Zephyr Workshop: A new game developer startup.
  • ISLA International: This startup was designed to provide Caribbean islands with access to sustainable energy and crops.
  • The Fashion Cookbook: On top of running a blog, the startup is also an image consulting service.
  • For All to Play: Yet another gaming startup, this one helps with game development and supports interactive media.
  • Sprezza Technologies: This startup was developed to improve transportation systems.
  • WooConnect: This startup is geared toward helping college students find things to do in Worcester.

Each year, the chamber awards 12 startups with a package that allows those businesses to grow and expand. One thing is clear. The underrated city of Worcester is busy growing its tech scene. You won’t want to miss out.

2. Cincinnati, Ohio

Starting the Tech Community off young

cincinnati,

Total Number of Tech Jobs: 11,907
Percent of Tech Workers: 8.0%
Growth Expected: 34.60%

Cincinnati, Ohio, is known for a lot of things, but having a great tech scene is not one of those things. Although, we think it should be. I mean, why else would it have 11,907 tech jobs if it didn’t have a great tech scene?

Also, the fact that 8% of the workforce is made up of tech workers is pretty impressive. Add in the fact that the city is expecting that industry to grow 34.6% and I’d say you have a pretty successful tech city.

In addition to the perfect tech scene, Cincinnati is also home to lots of delicious food vendors which are always available at the Findlay Market. The city is also known for the 19th-century architecture that encompasses the buildings. Don’t forget to stop by the Cincinnati Art Museum or the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.

Learning About Tech

Cincinnati provides a great technology educational scene. Start them off young is this city’s motto. Not really, but it should be. The Cincinnati Technology Academy is a K-12 school that customizes learning by utilizing technology.

Once students have graduated from high school, they don’t have to look far for a higher education. With Cincinnati State Technical and Community College right there in the city, you’ll never have to leave home to have a successful startup career. And speaking of startups….

Tech Startups to Be on the Lookout for

The Cincinnati startup Astronomer has been named the best tech startup since 2018. The fact that it is headquartered in Cincinnati points to the fact that the city is largely underrated for being a tech hub. The startup is designed to help organizations with their data workflow.

Some other startups to keep your eyes peeled for include, Abre, Actionstreamer and Clarigent Health. But really the list of thriving startups goes on and on. Which is really why you should consider moving to Cincinnati for it’s tech scene. I mean, only if you want your startup to really succeed.

3. Tempe, Arizona

The next Silicon Valley

Source: Wikimedia

Total Number of Tech Jobs: 11,690
Percent of Tech Workers: 10.6%
Growth Expected: 26.79%

The third-most underrated tech city hails in Arizona. Tempe is well-known for concerts and comedy shows that come to town. From outdoor festivals to everyone’s favorite lake to kayak, paddleboard, or pedal boat on, it would seem that Tempe has a little bit of everything for everyone.

That’s even more true for techies. But you wouldn’t know that because the city is underrated when it comes to the tech scene. In fact, the city supports 11,690 tech careers making up 10.6% of the city’s workforce. What’s even better is that the industry is going to grow 26.79% further than that.

If that wasn’t enough to convince you, let this sink in. When Silicon Valley startups are moving into town, you know the tech scene is off the hook. And no we’re not joking. Earlier this year, several startups left the valley for a spot in Tempe. Maybe it’s time for you to make the move as well.

Learning About Tech

Tempe has some pretty great schools to offer techies. From Arizona State University to the University of Phoenix, those who are interested in a career in tech definitely have some great schools to choose from in Tempe. But perhaps the best choice that’s available is the University of Advancing Technology. With all of those options, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to become an entrepreneur.

Tech Startups to Be on the Lookout for

As you’ve probably gathered, Tempe has some pretty impressive startups that are doing really great things for the community and beyond. Which brings us to mention Alt Thirty Six. The startup provides a simple-to-use payment technology for companies to allow them to accept digital currency. It was voted twice for best tech startup in Tempe.

Another startup that’s destined to become successful is Hownd. The platform makes marketing easy for companies by generating more foot traffic, driving up repeat visits and stimulating higher profits.

4. St. Paul, Minnesota

The tech scene is strong with this half of the Twin Cities

Source: Wikimedia

Total Number of Tech Jobs: 12,859
Percent of Tech Workers: 8.0%
Growth Expected: 31.64%

One-half of the “Twin Cities,” St. Paul, Minnesota, may be known for dinosaur specimens and immersive theater, but what people may not know is that it’s a thriving tech hub. A whopping 8% of its workforce is made up of tech workers.

The tech scene in St. Paul is on fire right now. From the many events dedicated to it to the Slack communities and even organizations, St. Paul is the place to be. I mean, we’re talking an entire week dedicated to startups with the Twin Cities Startup Week.

Another event, 1 Million Cups, presents opportunities to entrepreneurs each week to present their startups to mentors, advisors, and other entrepreneurs. St. Paul also has lots of organizations that are supportive of tech entrepreneurs, like Meda which offers business consulting, training, leadership development and so much more.

The list of resources built into this city for tech workers is never-ending. If you haven’t considered making the move here, now is the time to start.

Learning About Tech

St. Paul is as dedicated to education as a city can be. But the city is really immersive when it comes to tech education. What’s really great is that the educational programs and offerings aren’t just designed for adults or high school graduates. There are some for teens and even kids.

Code Savvy is just one of the educational resources that kids and teens can take advantage of. As the name suggests, it’s a way to get kids interested in coding. For those who are a little older, the best business library in the country is at your fingers. The James J. Hill Center offers a world-class collection of business information resources and is located in St. Paul.

Tech Startups to Be on the Lookout For

A lot of startups in St. Paul have the spotlight cast onto them from being featured in the startup week we mentioned earlier. That’s where The Invisible Network was discovered. This startup was created to provide a better job searching experience overall. Without the presence of recruiters and the anonymity creating a space where your current employer won’t find out, the job board has created a peaceful place for employers and job seekers to truly connect.

Another great startup to look out for is BetterYou. Based in St. Paul, the BetterYou startup coaches you through making better digital decisions so that you’re not wasting all of your time on social media. That’s just time better spent.

5. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

There’s nothing historic about this tech community

baton

Total Number of Tech Jobs: 7,463
Percent of Tech Workers: 7.0%
Growth Expected: 37.31%

From historical landmarks like the castle-like Old Louisiana State Capitol to the Magnolia Mound Plantation, it’s easy to see from a historical view why many people love living there. History there, as you would say, is alive.

But what many people fail to see is the bumbling tech community that’s brewing right under their noses. And it’s only expected to get better. While 7% of the workforce there are tech workers, the industry is expecting a 37.31% growth. Just think of all the possibilities.

The tech scene exploded in Baton Rouge without anyone noticing. But why else would the city create the Louisiana Technology Park? The hub of technology development for the entire state is located in Baton Rouge. Coincidence? I think not. Underrated? Absolutely.

Learning About Tech

There are quite a few options for you as far as learning about tech goes in Baton Rouge. From Louisiana Tech University to Remington College, you’ll have your fair share of options to consider in Baton Rouge. Plus, did we mention the Louisiana Technology Park? We know we did, but it’s really worth the second mention. It’s such a great resource for those considering joining the tech scene.

You’ll have access to a network of professionals who are excited to see your startup take off, you’ll receive assistance with business planning, and you’ll gain access to Angel and Venture capitalists. Plus, the data center is off the charts. From really fast internet to being disaster-proof, your startup is safe here and running efficiently.

Tech Startups to Be on the Lookout For

Several startups in the area are currently expanding their business and thriving thanks to the supportive tech scene in Baton Rouge. One of those startups is called Omnidek, which produces software that helps with basic business functions like payroll and invoicing. In the last year, the company raised $2.5 million already and has its sights set on another $2 million. With its expansion, the startup was able to hire 25 employees.

6. Baltimore, Maryland

Success is Right Around the Corner

baltimore,

Total Number of Tech Jobs: 23,237
Percent of Tech Workers: 8.1%
Growth Expected: 27.60%

Did you ever think you would see Baltimore, Maryland, and underrated tech scene in the same sentence? Us either. But it’s true. The city is the sixth-most underrated tech city in the U.S. Now, let’s delve into why that is.

In addition to the 23,237 tech jobs located in the city, tech workers make up 8.1% of the total workforce. Plus, the tech environment there is expected to grow 27.6%. That’s a huge increase.

The harbor area may be the birthplace of the U.S. national anthem, but it also features a high rate of entrepreneurship. The lower costs in Baltimore makes it an attractive place to start a business. But it’s also the access to talent and proximity to large companies that really stands out.

Learning About Tech

As we said, it’s the access to talent for some companies. From a very young age, Baltimore students have plenty of learning opportunities when it comes to a tech-specific education. The Maryland State Department of Education offers a technology education for all students.

Companies also benefit from the Univeristy of Maryland and Towson University being so close. Local talent is just filing in, one tech worker at a time. The educational scene doesn’t end there though. We can’t forget about the talent that’s coming from Johns Hopkins University, Loyola University Maryland, Coppin State University and Notre Dame of Maryland University. It would seem that the talent is never-ending for the tech community.

Tech Startups to Be on the Lookout For

Baltimore is the home of the startup Clean.io, which aims to protect websites, apps and publishers from malvertising. We mention this startup because just last year, it was voted as the Startup of the Year by Technical.ly Awards. That’s a pretty big deal in the tech community.

Sonavi Labs is even more impressive. The startup was designed to increase healthcare access through a digital stethoscope platform. The startup earned a $1 million seed round last year, and the CEO brought home third place at the Startup World Cup. The future is nothing but bright for Sonavi Labs.

7. Spokane, Washington

Good-bye Silicon Valley, hello Spokane

Source: Wikimedia

Total Number of Tech Jobs: 6,054
Percent of Tech Workers: 5.6%
Growth Expected: 63.89%

Spokane, Washington, may be known for the sculpture walk at Vast Riverfront Park or the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, but what you probably didn’t know is that it’s the seventh-most underrated tech city.

Sure, the 6,054 tech jobs that it currently supports is impressive. But it’s only going to grow. 63.89% that is. That’s a crazy high percentage especially for a city that isn’t known for it’s tech scene.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Silicon Valley companies moving to Seattle. But what if I told you that valley companies are now moving into Spokane? Pretty impressive, right? It’s almost as if Spokane is the next Silicon Valley in the tech world.

With quality of life, cost of traffic and parking in mind, many startups are realizing they can achieve their dreams in Spokane. It’s definitely an appealing city considering you can stretch your dollar a lot farther here than you can in one of those other big cities. And you get to enjoy faster commutes with way less traffic. Doesn’t get better than that.

Learning About Tech

Entrepreneurs aren’t the only ones relocating and expanding in Spokane. The University of Washington created an innovation hub, also known as a CoMotion Lab, in the area back in 2017. The hub was designed to support the already growing startup community by providing access to the university’s resources, assets, tools and networks.

Now, of course, this is a huge resource, but it’s not your only option. Spokane is boiling over with options when it comes to education. From taking technical courses at Spokane Community College to attending Spokane Valley Tech, you have lots of opportunities at your fingertips.

Tech Startups to Be on the Lookout For

Tech Startups really have a great support in the Spokane area. Just two years ago, area investors came up with a fund to help startups there get their feet off the ground. That year, five startups were awarded up to $50,000 each. Not only did they receive funding, but those companies also earned mentorship and other business help from Startup Spokane, which is a program of the area, and CoMotions Labs.

WildRide, one of the startups to receive funding, was created by three university students who wanted to help people with trying new bars and restaurants through this app. Some other up-and-coming startups in Spokane include:

  • Gestalt Diagnostics LLC: This startup provides a digital anatomic pathology service.
  • Liberty Lake Cloud Inc.: As you’ve probably guessed, this is a cloud optimization software.
  • Paw Print Genetics: This startup conducts lab testing to figure out pet genetics.
  • Stay Alfred Inc.: This is an urban vacation rental company.
  • Scorebook Live Inc.: A startup that provides technology in place of paper scorebooks at sporting events.

As you can imagine, this list doesn’t even touch the many startups that are thriving in Spokane. Your startup deserves to thrive, too.

8. Columbus, Ohio

More than just a string of parks

Source: Wikimedia

Total Number of Tech Jobs: 37,400
Percent of Tech Workers: 7.9%
Growth Expected: 25.59%

You probably don’t think of Columbus, Ohio, when you think of a tech hub. But maybe you should. With 37,400 tech jobs in the city, it’s easy to see how it’s been underrated. And it’s only going to get better with 25.59% growth predicted.

The city is known for the Scioto Mile, which is a string of parks that line the Scioto River, making this a great place to live for people who enjoy being outside. But there is so much more to Columbus than a string of parks.

Take the science center with it’s planetarium for example. Or the German Village area that features restored brick houses that were built by 1800s settlers. Don’t forget to check out the Columbus Museum of Art and it’s sculpture garden.

What really makes Columbus tick is its newfound investment community. The community makes the city a perfect environment for a tech-based business. In fact, did you know that Columbus is now the leader in startups growing to 50+ employees within the first 10 years? Because it is. It’s pretty clear that if you want to grow a successful business, you need to move to Columbus.

Learning About Tech

With the Ohio State University nearby, there’s a steady growth of young talent at the ready at all times. Students are always coming up with new startup ideas in the Columbus area, and because it’s so supportive those startups are growing.

If Ohio State doesn’t appeal to you, there are plenty of other options, including options for kids younger than college level. For example, the Tech Corps is a K-12 school that promotes the use of technology through education. They promote computer science there, along with other IT programs.

The Tech Elevator Columbus provides a 14-week program that ends with many students having jobs in the tech community. If auto tech is something you’re interested in, there’s a Columbus State Auto Tech Lab. And the list of technical schools and resources never ends. There’s no limit to what you can learn about tech in Columbus.

Tech Startups to Be on the Lookout For

With the tech scene growing in Columbus, there are some startups you need to lookout for because you just know they’re going to be successful there. Root Insurance was founded in 2015 and is already being used in several states. The startup provides personalized auto insurance through use of mobile tech and data science.

Aver bundles healthcare payments and was recently backed by some big-time investors leading to a $13.6 million funding round. Wiretap is a startup that specifically monitors services for Enterprise Social Networks and other collaboration tools like Slack and Yammer. We could seriously go on and on about all the up-and-coming startups, but we think you get the idea.

9. Wilmington, North Carolina

A beachy, tech scene that isn’t in California

wilmington,

Total Number of Tech Jobs: 3,582
Percent of Tech Workers: 6.0%
Growth Expected: 36.98%

The beach and a growing tech scene. We must be talking about somewhere in California. But we’re not. Instead, we’re looking at Wilmington, North Carolina, as the ninth-most underrated tech city in the U.S.

With a whopping 6% of the workforce being tech workers, the tech scene is getting better by the day. Especially with the 36.98% growth the city is expecting.

If those numbers aren’t enough to win you over, maybe the city’s boardwalk will. Don’t forget to check out the Riverwalk along the Cape Fear River, as it is lined with restaurants, galleries and shops that you’re not going to want to miss.

But back to the tech scene. Startups here are always cleaning up the awards at the North Carolina Technology Association Awards. And don’t forget about the city’s collection of WRALTechWire Full Steam Awards. Plus, it was a Wilmington startup that won the first-ever NC IDEA grant. I could go on, but you get the idea. Wilmington startups win a lot of awards.

Learning About Tech

In the past, the younger generation in Wilmington left after high school or college graduation for a city more involved in the tech scene. But not anymore. Now, some of those natives are returning and they’re coming from bigger cities. All for good reason.

It’s not hard to find a good education in Wilmington. With the University of North Carolina Wilmington at your fingertips, it’s easy to see why more and more local talent are sticking around.

Tech Startups to Be on the Lookout For

The Wilmington area is proud of its growing tech scene. Do you know how we know that? Well, the area recently launched a website that keeps tabs on all of the startups in the area. Called Network for Entrepreneurs in Wilmington, or NEWilm.com, the resource features local startup news, events, open jobs, and even a list of funding and investing sources.

With that kind of resource hanging around, it’s no wonder that startups like nCino and COWALA Co. are thriving. COWALA Co. is a family financial literacy app that gained some attention after being mentioned on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

Meanwhile, the cloud banking startup, nCino, has been listed as the best startup in Wilmington and North Carolina several times over the past couple of years. With a thriving tech environment like Wilmington, you just know these startups are going to be successful in no time.

10. Des Moines, Iowa

The insured tech community

des

Total Number of Tech Jobs: 6,630
Percent of Tech Workers: 5.9%
Growth Expected: 36.42%

The 10th-most underrated tech city on our list happens to be Des Moines, Iowa. You might know the city for its gold-domed capitol building or the Downtown Farmers’ Market. Maybe you know it for the Des Moines Art Center or the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden.

What you might not be aware of is the city’s vibrant tech scene. Driven by its insurance industry, the startup community receives a lot of support for their ideas. In addition, it’s no secret that the city has a lot of access to capital. And it’s not afraid to use it.

The city believes that the more startups you believe in and take a chance with, the better the economy will be. So as long as you have an idea that fit’s the city’s core competencies, you’ll be able to go far in Des Moines.

Learning About Tech

Just to add to the vibrant tech scene, a great school is located only 30 minutes away. That means that the city is retaining a lot of local talent, which just adds to the entrepreneurial spirit of Des Moines. Iowa State University is attractive to many local students because of how much it has to offer. Without ever having to leave, students are finding out just how great their city of Des Moines is.

Tech Startups to Be on the Lookout For

Many companies are discovering that Des Moines has all the right resources and the best local support that is required for fast-growing, high-tech businesses. One of those companies includes Workiva. The company has positioned itself near Des Moines to catch all the local talent stemming from the college. It all just seems too easy.

The city is known for its insurance industry, which makes investing in startups even easier and less of a risk. This has led to startups like Gross-Wen Technologies to grow more than they ever imagined. The startup treats water using algae and recently landed the city of Chicago as a client. That’s huge.

Amanda Postma

Author

Amanda Postma

Amanda Postma is a writer for the Zippia Career Advice blog with a focus on creating entertaining content to help you through your job search. She received her BA from the University Of Missouri-Columbia.

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