To Help Your Tech Company Grow, Be Strategic About Where You Plant It

techBecause tech is one of the fastest-growing industries in the nation, states across the U.S. are vying for the favor of promising startups and big-name companies that will bring more opportunities to innovate to their state.

What should CEOs focus their attention on when discerning where to relocate or expand a tech business? Consider those states where government leaders understand the area’s unique tech landscape and are actively cultivating it.

Consider, too, where other tech companies are planting roots. The answer may not include “Silicon” or “Valley.”

It’s states like Rhode Island that have things to offer along the entire work-live-play continuum that are proving the most attractive.

“In today’s knowledge-driven economy, no resource is more important than human capital.”

That’s why Virgin Pulse has announced that its existing Providence office has become its new global headquarters and that it will add nearly 300 jobs in the state by 2021. “We have a front-row recruiting seat to all the great universities here,” said Virgin Pulse CEO David Osborne.

And Infosys, which will bring 500 tech jobs to Providence by 2022, chose Rhode Island because of its “educational institutions, design-rich environment and economic development tools,” according to president Ravi Kumar.

Johnson & Johnson has opened a health technology center in the state and will be a tenant in the new Wexford Science & Technology innovation center, and both GE Digital and Priceline’s Agoda picked Providence for their expansions, announcing plans to hire hundreds of employees from top universities like Brown, Johnson & Wales University, the Rhode Island School of Design and the University of Rhode Island.

It’s natural for CEOs to focus on the tax credits and other financial incentives that states offer, but you should also look for indicators that local talent is being groomed specifically to perform in your sector. In today’s knowledge-driven economy, no resource is more important than human capital.

Rhode Islanders benefit from being exposed to STEM at all levels of their education, as computer science is now taught in every public classroom. The state is also home to some of the highest-caliber four-year academic institutions in the country, and it works to keep that talent local by offering incentives such as the Wavemaker Fellowship, a student loan reimbursement program for recent graduates who stay in Rhode Island to work in tech design fields.

Rhode Island elected officials have fought hard in recent years to shape the state into the best place in New England to build a tech business, cutting the corporate minimum tax by 20% and creating programs like the Qualified Jobs Incentive Act, which provides companies with annual tax credits of up to $7,500 per job created per year.

But part of the state’s appeal is organic, effortless—it can claim 400 miles of scenic coastline, inviting residents to enjoy sailing, beaches and resorts. And Providence, which is famed for its cultural and foodie scene, has been called “America’s coolest city” by GQ.

In Rhode Island, as in other top markets for tech companies, it’s as simple as this: Great companies thrive because of great people, and great people want to live in great places.