Main image of article Charlotte Rising Among STEM-Friendly Towns
Say the words “tech hub,” and most people will instantly think of New York City or Silicon Valley. But other, smaller localities have come into their own as tech ecosystems, having built up respectable (and growing) educational pipelines and startup communities. Where are these “next generation” tech towns found? Growth in STEM-related attributes (STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) might give us a clue. According to data from Wallethub, Charlotte, NC, ranks thirty-seventh among the best U.S. cities for STEM jobs, beating out New York, Dallas, Las Vegas and other prominent towns. It did even better with regard to availability of jobs, ranking twenty-first for professional opportunities. Again, that places it ahead of some major cities that have made sizable investments in their technology ecosystems over the 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 Charlotte did well; the city boasts housing prices and rents far below those in other tech hubs.) That’s not the only data point suggesting that Charlotte offers a plethora of STEM-related opportunities: 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 Charlotte have grown by 7 percent over the past two years, equal with San Francisco. Although Charlotte can’t compare to Silicon Valley or New York City when it comes to density of tech companies (and tech pros), data nonetheless suggests that the city is a solid place for STEM graduates looking for jobs. As the Charlotte’s economy has grown, new positions have opened up, with local tech businesses having created 62 percent more jobs in the past decade.