They say Charlotte’s got a lot, and it certainly does for today’s aspiring tech entrepreneurs. Boasting the fastest growing tech industry in the United States, Charlotte is home to an international airport, a rapidly growing population of young professionals from around the country, and a vibrant culture, making the Queen City the ideal place to start your tech business and scale it to national appeal. With a high standard of living at an affordable cost and local programs and incentives to grow your tech startup, the spotlight is on Charlotte as an international gateway for startups.
Fastest Growing Tech Hub in the United States Although Charlotte was built on a banking foundation, industry focus has shifted to the tech sector, especially FinTech (a natural progression from traditional banking) and blockchain tech. These two subsections of the technology industry have found a niche market to call home in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. As an already-established hub for FinTech, Charlotte has already gone through the growing pains of evolving from a traditional banking center. Next in the city’s sights is blockchain tech, which would put it on par with places such as New York, Silicon Valley, London, and major Asian cities.
Need more convincing? Check out this excerpt on top cities for tech job creation from Forbes.
Tech businesses in the Queen City expanded their job count by 62%, with 18% growth from 2014-16, the fastest clip in the nation. Meanwhile, over the past decade, the metro area logged a 23% increase in the number of workers in STEM occupations (science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related jobs). This rapid job growth and strong recent momentum, driven partly by health care and environmental technology, ranks it second on our list. In the past 10 years, the region has added 7,400 jobs in two key high-tech business services sectors, custom programming and systems design services, along with nearly 700% growth in software publishing employment. To be sure, the share of tech jobs in Charlotte’s economy remains one third that of Silicon Valley, and the tech and STEM workforces are far smaller, but quality of life, lower housing prices, as well as decent plane connections, seem likely to help it to continue to attract tech workers.
New Player Rising in STEM Jobs and Millennial Workforce Attraction A millennial workforce, the target demographic for many tech companies and startups, is readily available (and growing rapidly) in Charlotte. The city is attracting the generation in large masses, and doesn’t seem to show any signs of slowing. Charlotte, a part of the Sun Belt, has attracted Millennials in large numbers, partly due to lower housing costs than many other major, traditional tech cities. The culture of the city, including breweries, professional sports teams, museums, and internationally-recognized restaurants, has also engaged the millennial workforce and proved to be an effective lure for tech employees.
Programs to Spur Company & Career Growth Charlotte tech companies are finding not only a robust workforce in the area, but they are able to take advantage of incentive and incubator programs for assistance with establishing a presence and growing a business, particularly for international companies. Knowing that a support system is already in place for companies looking to build and grow in the Charlotte area reduces uncertainty and risk.
Major International Airport Charlotte also has the added benefit of an international airport– the sixth busiest airport in the world. Even after a recently-completed expansion, the Charlotte airport has new plans for growth, due to demand. Having a major airport with many direct, international flights makes Charlotte an ideal East Coast hub for international scale-ups.
With all of these factors, Charlotte offers a low-risk, low-cost point of entry for a potential high-reward situation. As an international startup or scale-up, it’s essential that you look at an in-depth perspective of the local area, understand the current key players, and have a partner ready to work with you to help your company grow and thrive.