When you think of top US cities for tech, Chicago no doubt sits somewhere lower down behind the likes of San Francisco, New York, Austin and Seattle and one or two others.
In fact, it may not even make it onto your list, but it’s adoption of technology and digital transformation over the past decade have made it impossible to omit The Windy City from any discussions about the top US cities for tech companies.
Historically, the Midwest tends to miss out on capital investment, but in recent times that’s changed. Investment in the city is happening at record pace, with nine Chicago-based companies achieving a valuation of $1bn already this year.
With funding being raised at such a scale, it won’t be too much longer before many other companies join this group of Chicago unicorns.
Known for its thriving Data, Fintech and Healthtech companies in particular, around 6,100+ start-ups and 1.1 million tech professionals call Chicago their home.
And alongside its burgeoning start-up scene, the city also plays host to a number of established tech giants, such as Google, LinkedIn, Uber and Salesforce – with these two forces combined Chicago is now one of the largest tech employers in the US.
There’s plenty of opportunity in Chicago and these fast-growing companies all have unique talent needs which are drawing people to the city.
But what is it about Chicago that has made it one of the US’ go-to tech hubs in recent years?
Business initiatives, collaboration and partnerships
Many Chicago-based companies, organisations and different bodies have united in an effort to attract world-class talent and to foster the growth of tech businesses across the city.
Through their collaboration, their aim is to attract the best tech talent and share all the assets that the city and region have to offer, and campaigns such as TECHicago and Come Back to Move Forward have meant that Chicago’s talent pool has deepened, and the city can grow and focus on tech at its centre.
These initiatives are backed by Chicago’s local government and have seen workers with in-demand tech skills, including data science, software programming, computer science, machine learning, AI and engineering flood back into the city.
Diversity of workforce and business owners
Chicago is a hugely diverse and inclusive city, and this mix of demographics, backgrounds and experiences is reflected in its workforce. In fact, Lindsay Knight, Venture Capitalist at Chicago Ventures said that ‘Chicago has the opportunity to be the most inclusive tech ecosystem in theworld’, and it’s easy to see why.
Chicago is the 4th most immigrant-friendly city in the US and this inclusivity is reflected in its technology workforce. A quarter (26%) of its tech workforce is either Black or Latino and Chicago was last year ranked the 6th best city in the US for diversity within STEM workforces.
When it comes to the city with the highest percentage of female entrepreneurs, no other city tops Chicago, globally. 30% of start-up businesses are owned by women (across all sectors), facilitated by the abundance of both talent in the city, mentoring and support networks dedicated to women in business.
The perfect city?
Being an ideal place to top tech talent to work and grow their careers is made even better by what Chicago has to offer during their down time. With so much going on in terms of sport, culture, food and music, no matter what you want to do away from work, Chicago truly caters for any and all tastes.
Likewise, despite its size and history, Chicago has a relatively low cost of living compared with many of the other major tech hubs (64% higher in San Francisco), and this is a big plus for Millennials and recent university leavers entering the workforce.
It has a strong economy too, and tech salaries have been growing steadily for close to a decade, with the median tech wage now sitting at just over $82,000.
When you add all this together, it’s easy to understand why Chicago is such a draw for tech talent.
These are just a few reasons why you should consider Chicago as your next home. If you’re looking for a career change or just interested in staying in the loop follow us on LinkedIn.
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