Should Austin have been higher or lower on 2017 list of best U.S. tech cities? Local experts weigh in

Cushman & Wakefield ranked Austin as the No. 7 tech city in the U.S.[/caption]

Austin ranked as the seventh-best tech city in the U.S., according to rankings released this month by Cushman and Wakefield, a commercial real estate services firm. Silicon Valley still reigns supreme, with San Jose, California, and San Francisco ranking first and second, respectively.

The list described a “tech city” as one in which tech plays a larger role in the city’s economic trajectory and analyzed factors such as the concentration of talent, capital and growth opportunity. Washington D.C., Boston and Raleigh, North Carolina, also placed in the top five.

“I’m surprised that North Carolina is ahead of us on the list, but not at all surprised that we are number seven,” Austin Technology Council CEO Barbary Brunner said. “I’m a little surprised that San Diego, New York and Los Angeles are not ahead of us on the list. When it comes to the percentage of total funding deals done in each of the regions in the U.S. and the amount of dollars in those deals, Austin comes in behind many of those other areas that are mentioned.”

The report confirmed Brunner’s assertion that Austin’s overall ranking was, in part, due to a lack of tech business funding. Austin ranked 11th nationally for venture capital.

“I think that increasing the number of sources and the size of those deals in critical,” Brunner said. “But we need to mentor and train entrepreneurs to develop global ideas that are expansive in their thinking and in their strategy. Startups are much sexier, but are less important to the economy than the companies that are producing 24 billion dollars in revenue.”

The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce said in a statement that Austin “has a significant array of talent and a vibrant economy of entrepreneurs,” but in order for the city to continue growing its tech reputation, it would need to work on better funding for entrepreneurs, economic equity and affordability.

Brunner agreed that affordability was a key concern, especially because affordable housing was one of the great distinguishers between Austin and other tech hubs, such as San Francisco or New York City. Rising housing prices put Austin’s position as the affordable tech city in jeopardy, Brunner said, but added that Austin still offered one thing that no other tech city could: a unique community.

“It’s important to remember that while the data may legitimately put us in number seven, the thing that continues to make us a tech hub is the heart and the goodness of the community and culture here,” Brunner said.


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