When you think of the Midwest what first comes to mind?
While you might have been thinking cornfields, or something agriculture-related, we were thinking technology. It may surprise you, but the Midwest has been growing steadily as a major tech hub. “The Midwest is home to 150 Fortune 500 companies, 25% of all US computer science graduates, and 60% of the country’s manufacturing base. It is a large market (it makes up 19% of America’s GDP) and is rife with innovation (19% of all US patents),” (Crockett, 2018).
An article by Venture Beat looked at 3 myths about the Midwest and tech and debunked them. They shared that many think the Midwest is only about B2B, there are no significant tech companies here and the Midwest is a late adopter. These myths are far from true. There are many B2C companies in addition to B2B. Apps like Grubhub, EatStreet are Midwest-based. Some of the biggest tech companies have large offices in the Midwest, like Amazon and Google. Furthermore, the Midwest has also been leading the way of IoT and other emerging technologies (Kanouse, 2018).
In fact, the Midwest is home to some of the coolest cities enticing tech workers (Perez, 2018). These cities are affordable and create a higher buying power for those who move here to work in the tech industry (Perez, 2018). Cities like Milwaukee, Madison, Chicago, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Des Moines, and Omaha are home to start-ups and established tech companies alike (Forbes Council, 2018; Sheiber, 2018).
Stephanie Luebbe an executive director of a startup in Nebraska shared that, there are a lot of reasons to invest, or start a company in the Midwest. She says, “the dollar goes further here than on the coast, run rates are longer, there’s a ton of affordable talent, and there’s the Midwest work ethic,” (Crockett, 2018). This work ethic is a topic that repeatedly comes up in our talks with leaders in the tech industry from the Midwest.
Here at Hashtag Midwest, we share stories about the innovative work Midwesterners are doing in the fields of technology. Check out our first two episodes of Executive Stories to get a taste of why the Midwestern work ethic and values are a great asset to any company.
In episode one of our Executive Stories, we hear from Jim Benson from Modus Cooperandi on Collaborative Leadership. He believes that Midwesterners have a unique work ethic. He shares how his mindset of people taking care of people has led him on his career path to create environments in which people thrive. Jim also shares his insight about our current work climate which is often remote and virtual can be isolating. He warns that we may be creating “silos of one” and to prevent that we need to keep a collaborative mindset, and always be assessing the health of our teams. To make that happen, leaders must drop their ego, and recognize that leadership and great ideas can come from anyone on their team. Jim’s experiences and mentality as a Midwesterner has driven his success and is an element he brings to all of his work.
In episode two of our Executive Stories James Hischke from Northwestern Mutual shares how collaborative leaders compete in playing to win. James shares what a great team looks like. He gives the advice that diversity is key, having complementary skills, and everyone willing to do a few multiple tasks is vital for success. The diversity of others, thought, and perspectives are also extremely beneficial to a productive work environment. In addition to diversity in the workplace, James values competitiveness. But for James, a competitive mindset is what is best for the team rather than one’s self. This way of thinking likely came from his upbringing and involvement in team sports. James truly finds importance in how a team plays together while focusing on one common goal. His style and drive all stem from his Midwestern roots.
We hope you enjoy Hashtag Midwest and check out our upcoming episodes with more top leaders in the tech space.
Crockett, Zachary. (2018). Life in the Silicon Prairie: Tech's great migration to the Midwest. The Hustle. Retrieved from https://thehustle.co/life-in-the-silicon-prairie-techs-great-migration-to-the-midwest/
Forbes Councils Contributor. (2018). Meet 8 Tech Companies Proving There's More To The Midwest. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesmarketplace/2018/02/21/meet-8-tech-companies-proving-theres-more-to-the-midwest/#22476a4418cb
Kanouse, Julia. (2018). Debunking 3 of the biggest myths about Midwest tech. Venture Beat. Retrieved from https://venturebeat.com/2018/04/10/debunking-3-of-the-biggest-myths-about-midwest-tech/
Perez, Christina. (2018). Why Milwaukee Is the Midwest’s Coolest (and Most Underrated) City. Vogue. Retrieved from https://www.vogue.com/article/travel-guide-milwaukee-wisconsin-midwest-coolest-city
Sheiber, Jonathan. (2018). Midwest rising: Midwestern success stories show that innovation ecosystems are taking root in the heartland. Tech Crunch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2018/07/18/midwest-rising/