It seems that more often than not, when I am listening to a podcast, or reading about some cool new tech startup, it is in North Carolina, more often than not anymore. I am wondering if we should rename it cloud hills North Carolina. I started paying attention even before Apple and the governor of North Carolina acknowledged the 1 Billion dollar deal with Apple to locate a server farm there. I have some pet theories as to why the area is hot and about to get hotter.
The first requirement for a thriving startup scene is access to capital. Charlotte has that in droves, and is only a short “relatively” drive from RDU. A few months ago, things there were touch and go with the financial meltdown. Charlotte being arguably the second biggest banking city in the US after New York was looking at losing a significant number of businesses. However, after some luck and quick work by the government, things seem to be looking up. I would imagine that these banks are looking at trying to put their capital in something a bit more secure than financial derivatives. Besides, what is better for PR than investing in small business and “putting America back to work.”
The next requirement is a thriving higher education community. Between Charlotte, and the Research Triangle, there are a number of first class universities that have some of the most storied histories in the US. Duke, UNC, Wake Forest, you name it. There are plenty of hungry young minds looking for some VC and a little opportunity.
There needs to be solid infrastructure around broadband, electricity, and existing tech resources like hosting. Well, they seem to have that, if Apple can build a huge server farm, and with what the universities, biotech companies, and bank tech consume as far as server resources are concerned. There is skilled labor there, and know how. Plus with companies like Red Hat out there, companies can find the services they need. More importantly the state has shown that they have the governance to get it done. The fact that they were able to change laws to meet Apple’s requirements to get the business shows that they are serious about tech. The fact that they have working government puts them heads and shoulders above California because of that alone.
Not that I am eager to leave the Bay Area in any way shape or form at the moment, but North Carolina has my attention. There is a lot going on outside of the microcosm of the Bay Area, and I think people are starting to take notice.