December 07, 2000, 3:40 PM — A Silicon Valley office isn't necessarily a key ingredient of a successful dot-com,
and you don't have to move to California for the best jobs. There is a rapidly growing
high-tech community in the nation's breadbasket, with successful Internet companies in
places like Chicago, Detroit, and Minneapolis. This results in a growing number of
solid Internet jobs located far from high-tech centers like San Jose and Boston.
Forrester Research (www.forrester.com) speculates in a report, "eMarketplaces Boost
B2B Trade," that the Internet boom will move to the industrial Midwest. Although dot-coms won't replace the cornfields anytime soon, Forrester reports that "in 2004, 17
percent of all business trade will be transacted on the Net, and eMarketplaces will be
firmly entrenched within many supply chains." In other words, industrial suppliers will
conduct more and more business on the Net.
Buyers and sellers of grain, steel, auto parts, and other Midwestern staples will
rely on dynamic, Internet-based trade. "Business-to-business trade isn't growing up in
high-tech centers like Silicon Valley -- it's developing in industrial hubs like
Cleveland and Detroit," says the Forrester report. "As B2B trade expands, there will be
a flight of talent and venture capital money to support these efforts, leaving the
coasts feeling a bit of a frost."
Midwestern cities know a good thing when they see it, and go to great lengths to
attract and accommodate Internet companies. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley has been
quite active and very successful in promoting Chicago as a potential home for high-tech
companies and the high-paying jobs they bring. "Chicago is fast developing a reputation
as a great place for Internet companies," said Daley. Besides being the geographic
center of the United States, Daley said, "We are the telecommunications center of North
America, and the world's only interconnection point of advanced Internet systems."
Perhaps more importantly, added Daley, "We have a city government that's willing to
smooth the way for start-up companies." That was important to Alan Warms, CEO and
founder of Chicago-based Participate.com, a provider of online community management
services. "As an entrepreneur, you are one call away from the mayor," said Warms.
Chicago's city government, like that of many Midwestern municipalities, is very
supportive of its growing high-tech community. "I think that's a huge leg up for any
Warms said there's an advantage to working in Chicago, and Midwestern high-tech
workers don't suffer from job-hopping syndrome like workers on the coasts. "I think
there's something about people who grew up in the Midwest," said Warms. "They
understand what it means to be part of a team."