Based in Kansas City, Chris Gardner and his team are well aware of the masses of and potential for tech talent in the area. It finally seems like the rest of the country is realizing it, too.
A recent report from Blueprint CBRE states that high-tech’s share of major office leasing activity has steadily increased over the past few years, reaching 21 percent during the first half of 2018. While traditional tech markets such as Seattle and San Francisco still top the list of highest commercial renters, growing markets such as Colorado Springs, Milwaukee and, our personal favorite, Kansas City are creating interest in their demand for office space.
No doubt about it — the technology market is growing, and businesses are looking for the next place to grow their industry. Yours could be next.
So, how do you market your region to tech talent looking to expand their market? Here are some of the successful factors we’ve found in Kansas City and the surrounding area:
1. An untapped or developing market
For years now, the coasts have been boom markets for technology. At the same time, the middle of the country has been overlooked. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a desire for technology services!
Take Kansas City, for example. In 2010, Kansas City made a bid to be the home of Google’s new internet and TV service, called Google Fiber. The service was an alternative to the few traditional providers in the Kansas City area, and the acceptance of the bid was met with excitement.
When Google moved into Kansas City, wealthier neighborhoods signed up in droves. But, even poorer neighborhoods were able to take advantage when the program was instituted at local libraries. The company’s move also increased competition among providers and led to the opening of a fund that offers digital inclusion initiatives.
Like many cities in the Midwest, Kansas City was simply waiting for the opportunity to develop an untapped market — one that Google took advantage of.
2. Lower rental costs
One of the biggest draws of Midwestern and northern cities is the lower rental costs for developers. For example, average office space rental in Milwaukee is $18 per square foot, as compared to $35 per square foot in Seattle. With lower rental costs, tech industries can focus on building out their market and their projects — often in an area where the need is greater and services will be more readily embraced.
With lower costs of rental, tech talent can rent bigger spaces than they are used to in more technology-saturated cities.
3. Overall lower cost of living
Just as rent is cheaper in Midwestern cities, so is the cost of living — which will make tech companies’ employees happy to hear. Most people already know the cost of living in coastal cities such as San Francisco is incredibly high. Compare that to Kansas City, where the cost of living is lower than average — rated a 90 out of a national average of 100.
When the employees of a business have a lower cost of living, they are able to more fully invest in the community around them. It’s a win-win-win for their community, their employer and themselves. Happy employees are more likely to stay with a business, so this factor is definitely an advantage to sell to tech talent looking to the Midwest.
4. Access to untapped tech talent
The arrival of Google Fiber in Kansas City did more than just boost Google’s market; it also created a bump in the entire city’s technology industry. Entrepreneurs took note of Google’s innovation, and startups began to gather speed and momentum. Other technology groups, initiatives, and events began to pop up as part of a ripple effect.
In fact, from 2013 to 2017, first-time employers (such as startups) added 84,000 jobs to Kansas City. Available investment capital increased 290 percent, and new business sprang up like never before.
When tech leaders move into a previously untapped region, it’s clear the whole community benefits — which, in turn, comes back to benefit the original tech company. It’s a selling point for any developer and one that Kansas-City-based developers like CTG Real Estate Services keep in mind when discussing and developing commercial real estate projects.
Want to learn more about attracting developers to new regions of business? Schedule a consultation with Chris Gardner today.