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United States Businesses The Almighty Buck Technology

The American Midwest Is Quickly Becoming a Blue-Collar Version of Silicon Valley (qz.com) 171

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: The economic engine of Silicon Valley seems to have driven right by the midwest. America's urban coastal cities have enjoyed an explosion in their technology sectors. New York's Silicon Alley and Boston's biotech corridor are world-class incubators of talent and startups. Austin (Texas), Seattle (Washington), Washington, D.C, and even Miami Beach claim a piece of the digital economy (and Silicon-something monikers). But what about Columbus and Indianapolis and Kansas City? After years in the doldrums, their fortunes are rising. Venture capital firms are setting up shop. Startups are clustering in old industrial strongholds. But the region's tech sectors look different than their coastal cousins. The midwest is seeing the rise of "mid-tech."

Alongside the traditional high-flying software jobs that are plentiful in Silicon Valley, mid-tech jobs, loosely defined as tech jobs requiring less than a college degree, are growing fast in the Midwest. While not an official designation, mid-tech jobs can be defined as skilled tech work that doesn't require a college degree: just intense, focused training on the job or in vocational programs like those of blue-collar trades of the industrial past. [...] Mid-tech jobs composed more than a quarter of all tech employment in major midwestern metropolitan areas, including Columbus, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; St. Louis, Missouri; Detroit, Michigan; Nashville, Tennessee; and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota-Wisconsin. More than 100,000 people were employed in such jobs in these cities alone. That proportion never cracked 20% in Bay Area metropolises, the heart of Silicon Valley. While the analyses did not include all cities, it reveals the tech sector's evolution in the Midwest along different lines than Silicon Valley.
The findings come from the Brookings Institute, a nonprofit public policy research group, which crunched data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. High and mid-tech jobs in midwestern cities also grew at an annual compounded rate of about 5%. What do these jobs look like? "In Kentucky, the technical skills once applied to things like calculating blast trajectories in mines are going into Javascript," reports Quartz. "The software firm Interapt has set up a training program in Eastern Kentucky to turn former coal miners and others with technical aptitude into software developers."
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The American Midwest Is Quickly Becoming a Blue-Collar Version of Silicon Valley

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  • by Archtech ( 159117 ) on Monday February 26, 2018 @09:15AM (#56187165)

    "America's urban coastal cities have enjoyed an explosion in their technology sectors. New York's Silicon Alley and Boston's biotech corridor are world-class incubators of talent and startups".

    I must be way out of touch, because I just can't think of many specific achievements that all that world-class talent has brought about.

    Processor chips - well, I think it's clear that a lot of useful progress has not been made there. GPUs, perhaps some advances. What's new in software, though? When was there last a really important new operating system? It all seems to be apps for extracting money from consumers.

    • Low Visibility (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JBMcB ( 73720 ) on Monday February 26, 2018 @09:31AM (#56187237)

      In my neck of the woods, most of the IT companies focus on manufacturing. Their main innovations are in controls, resource planning, quality control, logistics, etc... These innovations, from the outside, are totally opaque and probably pretty boring to most end-users. However, they mean that stores can easily get the products they need to sell, stuff is easier to make, cheaper to build, and of higher quality.

      The company I work for, for instance, makes software to automate regulatory filings with the FDA, which is an incredibly cumbersome process. The only electronic filing method, for instance, is formatting data using a custom XML DTD into separate files, zipping them together in a specific directory format, then uploading it, manually, via a Java 2 *swing* based desktop application.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        But we both know the process is "cumbersome" because of the FDA, not your company. I'm doing 800-171 compliance at a smallish airline (we some a bunch of DoD flights), and their XML idea is pretty cumbersome too. No FTP access to the 40+ security guides (STIGs) I need, so I had to write a PowerShell script to parse out the names, version numbers, revision numbers. Oh, and not all of them are at HTTPS, about half a dozen are HTTP so there's another sub-step. Oh, and SOME have a month in the name. It is
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Work sucks. I know. Have the same here.
        • by JBMcB ( 73720 )

          But we both know the process is "cumbersome" because of the FDA, not your company.

          Yeah, our company automates that part. It's basically a workflow/compliance package that handles all the submission requirements, scheduling and data gathering (which it pulls in from your existing systems.) The end user never sees the awful Java applet.

      • by plopez ( 54068 )

        They've developed the best marketing software *ever*.

    • by Ambassador Kosh ( 18352 ) on Monday February 26, 2018 @09:38AM (#56187283)

      Biotech has had amazing benefits. Protein based drugs have massively increased cancer survival rates along with many other diseases like hemophilia.

      CPUs have gotten much faster than they where. For HPC applications cpus have increased about 10x in the last 5 years or so and it looks like AVX-512 is continuing that trend. Neural nets are also proving to be extremely useful in science as surrogate models. Neural nets as surrogate models often execute tens of thousands of times faster than the base models.

      Most of the reason you don't see regular software benefiting much from faster CPUs is most software is not written to take advantage of what CPUs can do. Most software is designed to be easier to write and maintain and not to run fast. It also turns out that if you want software to run REALLY fast you do need to understand linear algebra.

      • Oh wow. It has been a long time since I have seen something so thoughtful on Slashdot.

        Well put.

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        Most software is designed to be easier to write and maintain and not to run fast. It also turns out that if you want software to run REALLY fast you do need to understand linear algebra..

        In that domain, if you've moved beyond using the "Fortran Lobster", you're doing OK maintainability-wise. Thanks goodness for hardware acceleration (CUDA and othewise) for matrix operations, or that ancient Fortran code base would still be the fastest proven option.

    • by Major Blud ( 789630 ) on Monday February 26, 2018 @09:40AM (#56187295) Homepage

      What's new in software, though?

      Depends on how far back you want to go for something to be "new".

      I consider virtualization to be a complete game changer. I know it's existed since the '60's, but only if you forked out huge sums to IBM. We now have virtualization for the masses.

      • This is mostly just IT support stuff. Shoving more applications onto a server than normal, load balancing, migrating servers, etc. it makes IT's life easier, but maybe not the life of the users. The benefits beyond that are not immediately obvious and they're not necessarily game changing except for the niche of sysadmins.

        It's still not new though, despite people forgetting about it. Has there been anything NEW in software rather than just re-discovered by those unaware of computer history? I know ther

    • by ctilsie242 ( 4841247 ) on Monday February 26, 2018 @10:57AM (#56187707)

      Pretty much, all I see coming from Silicon Valley are apps that try to shove ads in a new way, slurp up user data and phone home with it, be it "metadata", "telemetry", or whatever, or nickel/dime the consumer to death (F2P/P2W games, which most games tend to be.) I'm not really seeing anything that will help the quality of life across the board, but more ways to con the end user. I also don't really see much innovation either, other than buzzword-style monetization.

      Even IoT devices tend to be this way, where the device is mainly used as a way to slurp data to be sent home, as opposed to something useful for the consumer. This seems to be the case when the devices have security issues and the maker tells the people who own them, "just buy our version 1.1 device to fix the problem. We don't care to fix what is wrong with the version 1.0, and you agreed in the EULA that you won't sue us, so buy our stuff or bugger off."

    • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )
      Silicon Valley brings you this beautiful piece of ingenuity [youtube.com]. Shhhhh don't tell anyone but most of the time they "invent" useless things and then make them appear useful in fancy presentations to obtain VC for paychecks for goofing off...
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Electric cars. Private space launches. Solar efficiencies keep increasing. Some pretty good stuff.

      But mostly vastly improved advertising delivery.

    • When was there last a really important new operating system?

      Hi, I'm a kernel developer. And I'd like to say that operating systems aren't important anymore. They used to be. but now they are just a very minor part of a system's design. What is important is paralllel processing on a cluster of multiple computers, and much of these projects are OS-agnostic or hybrids that contain nodes with different environments and hardware. The remaining hard problems in computing aren't going to be solved by us operating system developers. (certainly there is some deep technical e

    • by enjar ( 249223 )
      A lot of the tech that comes out is sold B2B, via the cloud (which, honestly has also grown considerably in the last decade plus), into specialized markets (science, engineering, design, biotech, robotics, signal processing, AI, data analysis) or into backend/server room stuff a consumer never sees. Just because it doesn't make it into widespread consumer adoption doesn't mean there isn't useful work done, or innovative projects being worked on. A lot of change is incremental, too. The product my company ma
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 26, 2018 @09:21AM (#56187187)

    I know a few people out in California silicon valley who say these companies and liberal California is pricing itself out of the business market. I think the escape to a more affordable market is in play and California may eventually be abandon by many tech companies or never considered as a place to do business.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      Nope, it will never happen. People will never leave California no matter how much it costs, because they are not embarrassed in the least to be classists. Typical attitude:

      As a tech professional, I would rather eat glass than live in a so called "flyover" state. I have in-demand skills and I have zero desire to live in places that are small minded, lack diversity, and lack interesting and rich culture. The tech sector is chock full of diverse immigrants and unique people who have no desire to live in a con

      • by CodeHog ( 666724 ) <joe.slacker@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Monday February 26, 2018 @10:08AM (#56187423) Homepage
        Awesome attitude they have there. A lot of what they complain about can be said about themselves, "small-minded, lack diversity". As for their "in-demand" skills, those will come and go. I hope they stay up to date on current tech trends. God this just drips of ignorance (their comments, not yours).
      • Ironically, the Waffle House is considered by some top Chefs (Anthony Bourdain for instance) to be an outstanding example of American comfort food [firstwefeast.com]

        • Based solely on taste I kind-of enjoy Waffle House. They're one of the few places you can get a decent tasting breakfast sausage (sage, red pepper) but their ingredients are really poor quality and their menu prices aren't exactly cheaper than any local breakfast places you might be able to find. The way I see it, any breakfast place that doesn't serve butter isn't really worthy of respect.
          • by Anonymous Coward
            On the plus side, you probably don't have to deal with fresh urine and feces just outside the door of the Waffle House like you do for a lot of the "hot/trendy" breakfast places in San Francisco...
      • by Anonymous Coward

        And those are the kinds of people that will find themselves jobless at some point. If some "flyover" state becomes the next tech hub, they will have cheaper land/rent/labor than the existing tech hubs. They will be able to better compete with the big guys on the coasts. At some point the big guys will have to make a choice to relocate where those 3 are cheaper as well or find some other way to be more profitable.

        Relocating out of the liberal hell hole of the west coast probably won't be a choice, but a nece

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The ironic thing is that people are leaving California... so much of Austin and the surrounding area are "refugees" from there, and tend to be extremely disliked by the locals, especially come SXSW. Of course, they complain continuously that Texas sucks compared to California, why don't the locals hold them in higher regard for coming from a far, superior state, and the only reason they are in Austin is because their paycheck is in Austin.

        The ironic thing is that "flyover" states have plenty of culture, an

        • by doom ( 14564 ) <doom@kzsu.stanford.edu> on Monday February 26, 2018 @12:43PM (#56188399) Homepage Journal

          The ironic thing is that people are leaving California

          Last official census was in 2010. There were some estimates in recent years that show the state is still growing, but a bit slower than usual: http://worldpopulationreview.c... [worldpopul...review.com] http://journal.firsttuesday.us... [firsttuesday.us]

          But the ironic thing [1] is our conservative friends say many interesting things about California, but you can forget most of them. They were, for example very interested when the state's finances were in trouble, but dropped the story when we fixed it by electing Democrats.

          [1] Actually that isn't ironic. The ironic thing is you need to look up the word ironic and think about it. But then, that wasn't actually ironic either.

        • Ironic since most Texans are extremely up front and forward about how their state is the best, even when you don't ask. I don't consider Texas a flyover state though. And there's still the huge gap between city and rural, just the same as in California.

          • Ironic since most Texans are extremely up front and forward about how their state is the best....

            And all generalizations are true! /natch

        • The ironic thing is that people are leaving California... so much of Austin and the surrounding area are "refugees" from there, and tend to be extremely disliked by the locals, especially come SXSW. Of course, they complain continuously that Texas sucks compared to California, why don't the locals hold them in higher regard for coming from a far, superior state, and the only reason they are in Austin is because their paycheck is in Austin.

          Funny, we have that same problem in Missouri.

          On the other hand, the weather here is wild and unpredictable (I've seen temps drop 30 degrees then regain 20 in the span of 6 hours), and we have pretty harsh winters, so the nuisance is tempered with a bit of schadenfruede - watching Coasties totally lose their shit when a 70 degree week in December is immediately followed by an apocalyptic ice storm the next.

      • Nope, it will never happen. People will never leave California no matter how much it costs, because they are not embarrassed in the least to be classists. Typical attitude:

        As a tech professional, I would rather eat glass than live in a so called "flyover" state. I have in-demand skills and I have zero desire to live in places that are small minded, lack diversity, and lack interesting and rich culture. The tech sector is chock full of diverse immigrants and unique people who have no desire to live in a conformist mono-chromatic culture. Top tech talents don't want to eat breakfast at the Waffle House.

        This is one of the mild ones that doesn't include profanity or wishing for death. Plenty of those out there should you wish to look.

        Good; more waffles for me!

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        As a counterpoint to your MAGA infused viewpoint, let me give you mine.

        I'm originally from the Bay Area, but now live in a flyover state. I have actually lived in a flyover state now longer than I lived in California. However, most of my relatives still are in Cali and can't understand why/how I can live someplace besides the west coast. So I have experience with both the ultra lib Cali attitude and the ultra conservative flyover mentality. My politics and approach actually fall somewhere in the middle.

        • The "flyover" states include some pretty large cities, where you will find culture, diversity, and frequently liberalism. The rural vs. city divide is one of the most fundamental in the US, more important than coast vs. inland.

      • People will never leave California no matter how much it costs, because...

        ...the weather is perfect and there's an ocean.

        Don't undervalue the importance of living somewhere that's absolutely beautiful. There is a reason creative and innovative people have been rolling Westward for as long as we've been a nation.

        • I was more referring to the bigoted, classist slurs being used by people who think of themselves as morally upright egalitarians. It's just surprising how fast that gets thrown out the window when it comes time to look down our noses and sneer at the little people. Speak truth to the powerless!
        • People will never leave California no matter how much it costs, because...

          ...the weather is perfect and there's an ocean.

          When tens of thousands of acres burst into flames annually, and vast swaths of earth arbitrarily decide it's time to slide off into the ocean, I don't think you can really call the weather "perfect." Unless you're into death and destruction, I suppose; then it probably would seem ideal.

          • When tens of thousands of acres burst into flames annually

            Son, California covers 104,765,165 acres. That's one hundred and four million, seven hundred and sixty-five thousand, one hundred and sixty five acres.

      • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

        To a certain degree...what he said. But then, I do know many people who have, or are leaving CA because of the high cost of living, the overpopulation, the far left attitude, etc. I don't live there, but I manage people in CA, so I hear the reasons. On the other hand, where do geeks typically want to live? You're not going to find outstanding tech centers outside of the coasts, well with very few exceptions. Yes, companies are trying, my own included, to move jobs out of the higher cost areas, but then

        • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
          While I've heard people wanting to leave CA because of the high cost of living, or, possibly, just move because overcrowding in the LA/SF areas, I've heard as many people want to leave because of the far left attitude as I have that wanted to leave because of the crappy weather or terribly monotonous landscape. (for the slow, that would be near 0)
          • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

            Large geographical portions of CA are rather conservative, but the state as a whole is now about as left as it can get. As a conservative, I love a lot about CA except the political climate. It's beautiful...I've been all over, from San Diego, Newport Beach, Palmdale, SF, Sacramento, Lake Tahoe, etc...spent close to two years of my life during multiple visits. It's hard not to like the mountains, ocean and sunshine. But, maybe you hang around a different group of people who love the traffic, taxes, and

        • "On the other hand, where do geeks typically want to live?"

          Deep in the forrest with electric and telecommunications capabilities.

      • I may not leave, but because the weather is nice. I've lived in California my entire life, it's home. I have never met anyone outside of San Francisco who had the sort of attitude you describe. There are those who prefer the city to the rural, and some who seem to despise suburbia (which I think means silicon valley). But I don't see many classists in tech down in the valley.

        Sure, I don't want to live in someplace small minded, that's where I grow up (rural California). Diversity is nice.

        My guess is tha

      • As a tech professional, I would rather eat glass than live in a so called "flyover" state. I have in-demand skills and I have zero desire to live in places that are small minded, lack diversity, and lack interesting and rich culture. The tech sector is chock full of diverse immigrants and unique people who have no desire to live in a conformist mono-chromatic culture. Top tech talents don't want to eat breakfast at the Waffle House.

        I don't know what's funnier about that quote - the masturbatory narcissism,

      • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

        The flip side of your liberal stereotype viewpoint would be something like, "I don't want to live on the coast with anti-family atheists, socialists, gays, sodomites, and AIDS-infected homeless who come for the weather, which also inflates real-estate prices to high-heaven, which Californians will never see anyhow."

    • I don't think California is on track to become an economic wasteland, but if market forces are causing companies to start up in other areas, that's a sign of a healthy {labor, real estate} market.
    • As long as other states enforce non competes and do not fund higher education, probably not going to happen. Those 2 factors alone lead to large number of startups in California despite the expense. In any other state, your startup would die in the courtroom or the classroom.
    • I know a few people out in California silicon valley who say these companies and liberal California is pricing itself out of the business market.

      Yeah, it's like the old saying: It's gotten so crowded that nobody goes there any more.

      PS: What does "liberal" have to do with this conversation?

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      CA and big cities often specialize in fast-changing areas where collaboration is paramount, and thus talent and specialists are stuffed into a small geographical area so that they are readily available, including between gigs.

      But there are down-sides to such density, such as high housing prices. It's hard to be everything to every industry such that certain kind of technology may indeed find a better fit elsewhere. It's merely Adam Smith's/David Ricardo's "Comparative Advantage" principle in action.

  • This isn't all that surprising IMHO.

  • ... from TFA:

    "While not an official designation, mid-tech jobs can be defined as skilled tech work that doesn’t require a college degree..."

    The kind of work Bill Gates does, then?

  • by nucrash ( 549705 ) on Monday February 26, 2018 @09:38AM (#56187285)

    I heard about some of the retraining programs setup under the Obama Administration that are finding their funding cut as well as students no longer showing up because those lucrative coal jobs are coming back.

    While I support the idea of vocational jobs getting their due value, I also see this as any one particular area becoming too flooded is likely to devalue that job. Over supply and lack of demand will destroy any industry.

    That being said, I am aware of some areas where not enough technical jobs exist and companies would rather pay more in an urban area than to pay the same amount and bring high paying jobs to a rural area. Don't ask why this is, I don't get it. I am just saying I have witnessed this and have yet to reconcile why such happens.

    • Speaking as an employer, my perspective is that some work is parallelizable, where productivity scales approximately linearly with the number of employees assigned to it, and other work is inherently collaborative, to put it positively, or entangled in a hairball of ambiguity and unresolved dependencies, to more accurately describe how I feel about managing it. I believe the euphemism for it is "white-collar" or "professional" work. =)

      The classic example of parallelizable work I've seen in management books

      • by CodeHog ( 666724 )
        "I am not sure what tech jobs are parallelizable but when I hear people grumble about how tedious web app development can be, I guess that would be the place to look." And you would probably be wrong, at least not exactly right. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] And 'parallelizable'? TIL that's a word, kudos.
      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        Plenty of urban centers are not on either coast.

    • I have no doubt that you heard about this, but not from a reliable source. https://data.bls.gov/timeserie... [bls.gov] Coal mining employment has been relatively constant over the last year and still very low compared to where it was at the start of the Obama administration. Where this is due to politics or just the fact that nobody wants to buy coal when natural gas is cheaper could be debated. But there isn't a mountain of coal jobs coming back. More importantly, there just aren't many coal jobs at all so even
  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Monday February 26, 2018 @09:40AM (#56187299) Homepage
    speaking as a former CAD/machinist/electrician for a manufacturing company in Indiana, this work has always seemed to exist and the money has always been pretty good (~75k a year) but you'll owe the devil his dues. Manufacturing companies take 1-2 downtimes a year, during which you'll likely work 60-70 hour weeks doing this "intensive" type of work TFA describes. You'll be issued a sprint direct-connect phone because managers love the idea of a walkie talkie that works even when you're asleep at home, yet they'll pretend its not something they rely on when you start expensing 1 am PTT conference calls with the furnace operators. You'll spend most of the day writing excel reports in the cramped heat-treat or shipping office on a desktop with a missing '3' key that hasnt seen an upgrade since the bush administration, only to turn around and realize your boss also expects you to reprogram a new set of Cincinnati CNC's the mover/millwrights are slowly snaking through the plant.

    and dont expect to delegate any of this because your title never changed, just the money. Sure, I was still "big john" on the floor but ill be damned if anyone was helping run new hydraulics for me, or retrofit my reprogrammed fork truck scanners at the dock. Then theres your boss. Are you actually keeping up with the work? you can expect to have every other time card "flagged for further review" because your managers and leadership dont understand what you do anymore, but have come to rely so implicitly on it that your face is practically on the company card.

    When i gave this kind of work up for a salaried ladder logic programmer job, I was hired back part time at twice my pay for downtime events and documentation. I miss being "big john" on the floor, but i sure as shit dont miss juggling chainsaws on a sunday for pay.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      W or HW?

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      You'll spend most of the day ... in the cramped heat-treat or shipping office on a desktop with a missing '3' key that hasnt seen an upgrade since the bush administration

      I find it's often easier to just buy new keyboards and minor equipment yourself and don't make an issue of it. Ask for a replacement, but if it doesn't show up, then just go get one.

  • "In Kentucky, the technical skills once applied to things like calculating blast trajectories in mines are going into Javascript,"

    so that they can asplode your browser.

    Where are the jobs? A software firm doesn't need so much headcount.

  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Monday February 26, 2018 @10:18AM (#56187463)

    The economic engine of Silicon Valley seems to have driven right by the midwest

    No it hasn't. It only seems so to clueless people on the coasts because the people who live in Silicon Valley live in a bubble. If you are looking for tech jobs, Southeast Michigan routinely outperforms Silicon Valley in R&D spending, revenue, and hiring. Why? The automotive industry uses a HUGE amount of tech. People tend to forget how much technology goes into designing and making cars. Oakland County just outside of Detroit City is one of the richest counties in the entire US. Michigan has a ridiculous amount of engineering talent - but it isn't centered around PCs and phones. It's in robots, automation, chemicals, controls, metalworking, etc.

    Venture capital firms are setting up shop. Startups are clustering in old industrial strongholds. But the region's tech sectors look different than their coastal cousins. The midwest is seeing the rise of "mid-tech."

    Venture capital firms have always been here in the midwest. So have startups. The culture is different and the economy doesn't look the same but none of that is anything new. It's kind of amazing how condescending folks from the coasts are about parts of the country they never bother to visit and know little about. They hear that the City of Detroit is having a hard time so they assume that the entire midwest is a desolate hell hole with no jobs and no technology.

    Mid-tech jobs composed more than a quarter of all tech employment in major midwestern metropolitan areas, including Columbus, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; St. Louis, Missouri; Detroit, Michigan; Nashville, Tennessee; and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota-Wisconsin. More than 100,000 people were employed in such jobs in these cities alone.

    Detroit metro alone has a population of over 4 million. 100,000 people is kind of a rounding error. Plus those jobs have always been there. If you didn't know that you weren't paying attention. You don't need a four year degree to learn how to program a robot or a CNC mill but those definitely are technical jobs.

    • Michigan has some top notch universities, and that spawns some high tech industries too. It's things like medical, biotech, hiightech. Automotive seems almost like an after thought sometimes.

  • by l0n3s0m3phr34k ( 2613107 ) on Monday February 26, 2018 @10:23AM (#56187487)
    The jobs here are probably pretty much the same as any place else. The major difference might be most places are more set in the Windows environment than on the coast. Basically, whatever tech was "hot" 10-15 years ago is just now getting implemented here. But we all use the same type of switches, hardware, phone systems, etc as the rest of the country. We're not sending smoke signals and fighting off angry Indian tribes with muskets or using a horse and buggy for transportation. We lay fiber just like they do on the coast, we use VMWare, Active Directory, and Airwatch just like the rest of the planet. We even have these giant metal things in the sky, any they go so what we call an "International Airport"! We have 4G cell networks, electricity, electric cars, and all sorts of new-fangled tech. Our physics operates the same way as Silicon Valley, our electrons flow just the same.
    • by CodeHog ( 666724 )
      "whatever tech was "hot" 10-15 years ago is just now getting implemented" Nah, it's here in the midwest just not as clustered as on the coasts. I worked on a web based application before a lot of the big sites out there existed (early 2k). I follow the trends and keep up to date on the technologies but I'm not surrounded by a ton of other software engineers in NE Illinois. Lot's of banking, teaching, and agriculture but not a hot bed of makers, app devs, etc. And some of it is due to higher education focus,
      • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
        I interviewed at a bunch of east and west coast companies before deciding to stay in Indiana. They were definitely a couple years ahead on infrastructure. Denver area seemed to be in between, ahead of us, but behind Cali/NY.

        I ended up with an offer in NY, which I eventually ended up declining to take a position at a tech oriented late stage startup in town.
  • Good to see there is a push to reskill workers in areas where industry is dying out but this >>> "The software firm Interapt has set up a training program in Eastern Kentucky to turn former coal miners and others with technical aptitude into software developers." isn't that simple. While it sounds impressive to say they are creating developers with a training program, aka "Reskilling Americans for the Future!", it's not that easy. You don't become a developer by taking some training classes that m
  • by Tempest_2084 ( 605915 ) on Monday February 26, 2018 @10:38AM (#56187599)
    They might start moving here. Keep your nuttiness over on the coast where it belongs. ;)

    Seriously though, the Midwest has always been a hub of technological innovation, it's just not the sexy kind that makes news. SE Michigan (where I am) has a large amount of talented engineers because of all the automotive companies and suppliers. We also have a lot of biotech and high tech manufacturing communities. It just seems that unless it's related to one of the major west coast tech companies no one cares. Personally I love it out here, the people are friendly and way more welcoming (my wife is from CA and seemed surprised by this when she moved here), the cost of living is low, and while we're not as trendy as the coasts, we do have a lot of trendy areas (check out Ann Arbor sometime). The only thing that sucks here is the weather, but it's not as bad as it's made out to be. There really is more to the US than the coasts.
    • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
      I'm in the Dayton area. We use to be able to boast the most patents per capita when companies like NCR were still around.

      When people complain about the weather, I remind them that's what keeps our cost of living very low. Winter kinda sucks but for 9 months it's not all that bad. The worst part for us is the high volatility. I'm sure this holds true for most of the region but as the saying goes around here, "if you don't like the weather just wait 4 hours." It could snow today and have tornado watc
    • They might start moving here. Keep your nuttiness over on the coast where it belongs. ;)

      Seriously though, the Midwest has always been a hub of technological innovation, it's just not the sexy kind that makes news. SE Michigan (where I am) has a large amount of talented engineers because of all the automotive companies and suppliers. We also have a lot of biotech and high tech manufacturing communities. It just seems that unless it's related to one of the major west coast tech companies no one cares. Personally I love it out here, the people are friendly and way more welcoming (my wife is from CA and seemed surprised by this when she moved here), the cost of living is low, and while we're not as trendy as the coasts, we do have a lot of trendy areas (check out Ann Arbor sometime). The only thing that sucks here is the weather, but it's not as bad as it's made out to be. There really is more to the US than the coasts.

      I am in the St. Louis area, and there are quite a few good companies to work for here. I am at one now that has built a very complex system that was built over the span of 15 years, and was acquired by a larger company. The problem is that we are a total Windows shop. As many companies do, they think the smart thing to do is to go with all Microsoft technology because... Microsoft! So instead of trying to fix all of our technical debt (IE-only, SQL Server only, Silverlight, and even a bit of VB6) becaus

      • Here in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, I've worked for two highly innovative small companies that pretty much were (or are) the best in the world at what they did (or do).

    • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
      I don't think SE Michigan qualifies as flyover, maybe rust belt. SE Michigan is practically east coast and technically has a shipping route to the ocean.
  • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Monday February 26, 2018 @11:28AM (#56187879) Homepage

    My first job was in a tech startup in Naperville, Illinois. In 1992. (Right down the street from Bell Labs. The founder of this startup was a former Bell Labs employee).

    This company was literally bought by a competitor (who sold inferior products), and shut down. That's what happens to tech workers who choose jobs not in Silicon Valley or WDC. You get bought and shut down. That's IF your startup is successful. Same goes for companies that open satellite offices in other cities. They may not shut down these remote offices, but they are used as an accounting tool to relieve payroll pressure during a downturn. (that means these offices bear the brunt of layoffs).

    You want a hiccup-free career in tech? Don't start it in the midwest. Or any place else. The big money will come along and fuck you over. You stand a better chance in Seattle, of course, and the WDC area (if you are into Fed. Contracting), and I think New York and Boston are starting to look good too.

    • You talk like there aren't other employers that need help. If you're any good then it's no problem to get another tech job if your employer goes under or is bought out.

      I've been working tech jobs in Chicago for 20 years now; I've never ever had a problem finding work in less than a month of looking. It's ranged from 3 days to maybe 3 weeks.

      They key is having actual skills. If you're an experienced system or network admin and have a programming background in languages like C, Perl, Python or Java you wi

  • by unixcorn ( 120825 ) on Monday February 26, 2018 @11:37AM (#56187919)

    It seems I am a polar opposite to those who are in love with the expensive living on the coasts. I live and work in the Midwest and will certainly retire here. By living in the middle of the country, I can easily visit both coasts, and the lower cost of living is going to allow me to retire early. Despite the claims that there is no culture or a diverse community, I would say that most Midwest college towns defy that notion. I have everything but an ocean and a large local lake can take care of that need. I grew up in Florida and survived the drug-addled rat race for many years before venturing west. It was the best decision I made in my life. I almost didn't write this because frankly, I would rather the coasties not know how good us "blue collar" IT folks have it.

    • There is a lot to be said for life in the midwest; you can have your liberal enclaves in college towns, you do have lower costs, and there is better patronage of the arts making for free museums and accessible arts in St. Louis. I left and could never move back because of the weather. I remember days where you leave in the morning in shorts and it is snowing on the way home. Many of the long-standing political decisions also cause the problems with crime as well.

      Everybody has different needs; smart emplo

  • This person seems completely out of touch with the tech sector in the Mid-West.

    "Austin (Texas), Seattle (Washington), Washington, D.C, and even Miami Beach claim a piece of the digital economy (and Silicon-something monikers). But what about Columbus and Indianapolis and Kansas City?"
    Trust me, I wish Kansas City WASN'T given the moniker Silicon-Prairie.

    "...mid-tech jobs can be defined as skilled tech work that doesn't require a college degree: just intense, focused training on the job or in vocational progr

  • While not an official designation, mid-tech jobs can be defined as skilled tech work that doesnâ(TM)t require a college degree: just intense, focused training on the job or in vocational programs like those of blue-collar trades of the industrial past.

    Companies in my region don't require college degrees for the high-tech jobs, you just need to have the skills and experience to get the job done. The only companies that require degrees tend to be large corporations. Sometimes they won't promote people above a certain level without a degree, but that's just their policy and they lose good workers because of it.

    • Degrees help with the promotions though. I've seen skilled people hit their ceilings often because a lack of a degree.

      Also important is adaptability. College is good training for that. Because the job you do today will not be anything like the job you do 10 years from now.

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