Silicon Valley, the largest and most influential high-tech center in the world, continues to lead all other metropolitan regions in North America in the breadth and scope of economic activity it creates through technological innovation. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett is right in there moving up a notch with a 2nd place ranking which speaks to its crucial role in the knowledge geography of North America according to a new report from the Milken Institute: North America's High-Tech Economy: The Geography of Knowledge-Based Industries.
"Every sector has been impacted by the current economic downturn, but high-tech centers will come out on top," says project director Ross C. DeVol. "In 2003, many said that the era of technology-based economic development was over. However, the industry defied the naysayers and grew rapidly in the following years, proving that regions that promote and sustain the vital inputs to a high-tech sector are best prepared to recover and generate broader stability and growth." According to the study, which ranks the top high-tech centers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, most of the top tech metros are well known – like Seattle, Cambridge, Washington, D.C., New York and San Francisco. But there are many lesser-known regions that have made tremendous inroads in the past decade to build their technology assets, such as Toronto, Canada; Kalamazoo, Mich.; and even Baja California. The top-ten rankings for the preeminent high-tech metros in North America:
Total High Tech Score
San Jose – Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
Los Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale, CA
Dallas – Plano - Irving, TX
San Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos, CA
Santa Ana – Anaheim-Irvine, CA
New York – White Plains – Wayne, NY-NJ
San Francisco – San Mateo-Redwood City, CA
Like most of the economy, the high-tech sector has taken a beating in the last six months, but recent numbers show that these cuts may be leveling off and the sector could be primed to once again be an engine of sustainable growth when recovery begins to take root.
Among some of the metros not often thought of as growing high-tech centers are:
- Toronto, ON jumped 10 places from 2003, showing impressive gains in building and attracting high-tech businesses in manufacturing and reproducing of optical media, biopharmaceuticals, and medical and diagnostic laboratories.
- Kalamazoo, MI illustrates how entrepreneurs can overcome dramatic shifts in the local economy. The region was able to retain its human capital and redirect it after Pfizer's 2003 relocation of previous Pharmacia operations. The metro ranks 9th in North America for medical equipment manufacturing in 2007.
- Baja California has become a key manufacturing center for high-tech giants such as Casio, Honeywell, Sanyo and Sony. The state finished in 2nd place in 2003, just after San Jose, in the ranking for manufacturing of semiconductors and other electronic components. It also leads North America in medical equipment and supplies manufacturing.
- Scranton-Wilkesboro, PA ranks 3rd in audio and video equipment manufacturing and showed employment growth of at least double the North American average for the period 2003 to 2007.
- Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC ranks 4th in North America for data processing, hosting, and related services in 2007, but will need to ensure that recent consolidation and turmoil in the banking industry does not impact its future rankings.
- Vancouver, BC showed the greatest rise among the top-10 metros for software publishing, climbing from 14th place in 2003 to 9th place in 2007.
- Durham, NC experienced the fastest job growth in scientific research and development services since 2003 among the top ten metros, and was the third fastest in North America.
An executive summary, the full report and interactive data tables for all U.S. and Canadian metros and Mexican states, plus breakdowns for 19 separate high-tech industries, are available at www.mileninstitute.org