Top 5 Most Tech-Friendly Cities off the Beaten Path

While San Francisco, Boston, and NYC are unequivocally great options for techies, they’re definitely not the only options. If you want to take path (or in this case, airport flight) less traveled,

Here’s Your Top 5

1. Huntsville, Alabama

This city has been called “the heart of the Southern tech scene.” Its more well-known nickname? Rocket City, for its major role in US space missions. (NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is still one of the town’s biggest employers.)

However, according to the editor-in-chief, “It’s not all government and academia; Huntsville is rapidly emerging as one of the best places in the South for small, emerging tech businesses.”

We’re not surprised it’s on NerdWallet’s Best Places for Engineers.

2. Fort Collins, Colorado

You may be more familiar with Denver’s tech developments, but Fort Collins may just overtake its sister city.

“Fort Collins shines is in terms of tech startup density. When controlling for population, Fort Collins actually has three times the national average amount of tech startup births each year,” said analyst Courtney Miller.

“This is a huge sign of innovation and tech growth in the area.” The city actually has a greater start-up density than both San Francisco and San Jose.

To encourage this growth, Fort Collins has begun hosting annual start-up weeks. There’s also Innosphere, a science and tech incubator.

3. Austin, Texas

Every year, tens of thousands of tech enthusiasts converge on Austin for the South by Southwest conference. (Many people don’t even go to the conference—they just hang out at the local watering places and network.)

But the city is tech-friendly the other 364 days of the year, as well. More patents are registered in proportion to the population in Austin than in Boston. It’s got a higher start-up density than Boston as well.

According to Savilis, a property consulting firm, Austin is the top city in the entire world for tech businesses, thanks to its impressive talent pool, thriving tech environment, and high quality of life.

4. Washington, D.C.

D.C. is best known for its employees who write legislation, not code—but that might be changing. The city’s technology sector grew by 50% in 10 years, and the district’s government has plans of growing it by 100% more by 2019.

Tax incentives are definitely part of D.C.’s allure for tech; Mayor Vincent Gray calls them “the most competitive in the country.” The district has some of the most VC funding in the nation as well. In response to these favorable economic factors, over 1,000 tech start-ups have chosen D.C. as their home, and 79 of every 1,000 jobs in the metro area are in tech.

The last thing that makes D.C.’s tech scene unique is its relatively high proportion of women. “I have found a strong community here of women,” says Jordan Bookey, co-founder of Zoobean.

5. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Before you dismiss this city as the less wild, less famous sibling of New Orleans, take a look at how many awards it’s racked up: Entrepreneur’s Best City for Entrepreneurs, the #1 Metros for Economic Growth Potential , #7 on Best U.S. Job Markets in 2014 (ZipRecruiter); and #14 on Forbes’ America’s Engineering Capitals. Yup, pretty impressive.

Baton Rouge also has a supportive tech ecosystem, with major figures including the Louisiana Business & Technology Center, the Louisiana Emerging Technology Center, and Louisiana Technology Park.

The city held its first Startup Weekend in 2011. Entrepreneurs and tech talent flock to this event, as well as the more “grassroots” ones, like Baton Rouge Entrepreneur Week, SeNSE pitch nights and Red Stick International Animation Festival.

Like D.C., Baton Rouge also has great tax credits. According to Entrepreneur, “The state’s Digital Interactive Media and Software Development refundable tax credit is one of the most generous in the nation.”

Pablo Pinto works as a product specialist at Tara AI. He has experience in startup-up operations, business development/sales, growth, and product building. Pablo considers himself a self-starter with an entrepreneurial spirit and a special interest in data analytics and digital marketing.