Salt Lake City Among Tech’s New STEM Hotbeds

For a number of years, Silicon Valley dominated as the nation’s ultimate tech hub. But other localities are coming into their own as tech ecosystems, complete with their own educational pipelines and startup communities. Where are these “next generation” tech towns found?

According to data from Wallethub, Salt Lake City ranks seventh among the best U.S. cities for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) jobs, beating out Chicago, New York City, San Jose, and other prominent “tech forward” towns. It ranked ninth for professional opportunities and fourteenth for ‘STEM friendliness,’ also placing it ahead of many major cities that have made sizable investments in their technology ecosystems in recent years.

Wallethub relied on 17 factors in its calculations, including number of job openings for STEM graduates, the city’s offered quality of life, annual median wage for STEM workers, and housing affordability. (Considering how housing costs are a key factor in quality of life, it’s not surprising that Salt Lake City did well; the city boasts housing prices and rents far below those in other tech hubs, as well as a focus on true work-life balance.)

That’s not the only data point suggesting that Salt Lake City offers opportunity for STEM graduates: a mix of data from Praxis Strategy Group and EMSI’s Q4 2017 dataset (and neatly summarized by Joel Kotkin on Forbes) suggests STEM jobs in Salt Lake City have grown by 5 percent over the past two years, equal with Seattle.

While it seems unlikely that Salt Lake City will overcome Silicon Valley as the nation’s most prominent tech hub (at least in the near-term), the data nonetheless suggests that Utah is a solid place for STEM graduates looking for jobs, whether with up-and-coming startups or well-established firms (the area has both). Plus, the city has made a concerted effort to draw in younger, technologically skilled workers.

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2 Responses to “Salt Lake City Among Tech’s New STEM Hotbeds”

  1. The article failed to mention the nickname given to the tech industry around SLC: “Silicon Slopes”. (Since it is based at the foot of the Wasatch Mountain Range.) I live in Silicon Slopes and I do think that (eventually) it will overtake Silicon Valley in terms of growth and investment for three reasons:
    1. Silicon Valley is aging, and as any industry gets older, it becomes more bureaucratic and inflexible. (Look at what happened to the car industry in Detroit, for example.) Silicon Slopes, on the other hand, is a relatively new and expanding market.
    2. California is increasingly monolithic in its voting patterns. Just as unchecked liberal economics destroyed Detroit’s economy(and is threatening Chicago and other city’s as well), so also the high-tax, redistribution mindset of California is beginning to undermine its own success (California now has the highest poverty rate in the nation). This is a sharp contrast to Utah, which has one of the lowest poverty rates. Utah is also consistently rated as one of the most “business-friendly” states in the country due to its mostly-conservative legislature which believes in low taxes and pro-growth policies, as opposed to the “punish-business” attitude of liberal legislatures.
    3. The LDS (AKA Mormon) Church. While this factor is rarely mentioned, it does have a huge impact on the state and local policies, and is the main reason poverty and crime is so low in Utah. The LDS Church has a massive welfare program for members and non-members alike, and because it is private and aimed at building self-reliance rather than dependence, it is far more successful than the US government’s welfare system. Bloomberg recently wrote a lengthy article highlighting the success of the church in this regard. Most importantly, the church fosters a higher standard of ethical living and honesty among the populace. Most Utahns feel safe leaving their homes/vehicles unlocked because the crime rate is so low. I, myself, have lost my wallet in public parks, only to come back and have it still waiting for me untouched. I attribute the culture of honesty that prevails in the state to the LDS church. An honest population is a happier, more productive population. Additionally, the church emphasizes the importance of education among its adherents, which is why there is a large, skilled workforce here just waiting for employers to tap.

    While Silicon Valley is dominating now, (and I do hope it will continue to thrive for a long time), I cannot help but see Silicon Slopes taking the lead in the future due to the above-mentioned factors.

    • All Knowing Suit

      You talk about crime rate but you don’t cite any statistics vs other tech capitals. While there are some programs to help homelessness orchestrated by the Church we literally just had to relocate 1000’s with police. Don’t jerk the Mormons off too hard. Furthermore, the increase of tech workers coming to Utah will gentrify Salt Lake City more and slowly strip power away from the Mormons pushing them more into suburban zones where they can enjoy being surrounded by less diversity, their favorite thing, which is to be surrounded only by mormons and people whom don’t question authority or actually anything really. Silicon Valley has 999x the infrastructure and 1000x the money. Get real. It will be some time before everyone is tired of San Francisco’s housing market, they’ll just move to somewhere else in California not Salt Lake.

      What we need to turn Utah into a tech capital is advanced tech or skill specific. We can’t just import every big tech company call-center and call ourself Silicon Slopes. Yes we have 4 Unicorns and there are more and more startups popping up, but to put Utah on the map for developers, engineers and designers, we need a big name. No one is excited to work on Domo’s dash board product minus their Execs. The company is probably fantastic to work for, they have great benefits and perks, but so does everyone else! We’re so quick to say we’re a tech capital but few here are ACTUALLY passionate about technology, they just see $$$$$.

      Lastly, our tech programs also don’t come close to the likes of Stanford, UCLA.