COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Across America, 2020 was a year of disruption. In a matter of days, how we live and work completely changed.
This pandemic also started what is perhaps the greatest relocation of talent since World War II, with Americans leaving large coastal hubs in search of a better work-life balance.
According to one survey of Silicon Valley workers by the workplace app Blind, 15% of Bay Area tech pros have left the region since COVID-19.
So where are they going? Many are choosing Ohio.
Recent data from LinkedIn, originally reported last month by Alex Kantrowitz for the newsletter Big Technology, show Cleveland was the nations second biggest net gainer of tech workers from April to October last year, compared with the prior year.
And just two weeks ago, U-Haul released its 2020 rankings of all 50 states based on migration growth. Ohio was ranked fourth. California was dead last at No. 50.
Why does attracting technology companies and tech professionals matter? High pay is one reason. In Texas, according to The Wall Street Journal, the Austin Chamber analyzed salary data from the Texas Workforce Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics over the past decade. The average annual salary in 2019 for a high-tech job in their region was about $125,000. For all industries, it was about $65,000.
While numbers and data are great, the real story is told by the people.
Chris Berry is president of OhioX, a nonprofit technology and innovation partnership dedicated to helping make Ohio a leading tech hub.
In 2020, Ohio welcomed Oskar Bruening as one of our newest residents. Bruening is the co-founder and chief technology officer of California-headquartered Peek, a travel technology company that helps people discover their next adventure. Bruening moved from the Bay area to Cleveland, where he now leads his global team. Peek has the backing of investors like former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Square.
The story is also told by the co-founders of Clevelands MedPilot, a medical technology company which moved here from New York City in 2018. Two of the companys founders, Matt Buder Shapiro and Nathan Spoden, grew up in Northeast Ohio.
If youre building a health tech company, what better place to do it than in Cleveland? Their move has created a playbook for executives considering their own move.
Another boomerang is Carrie Murphy. For her first job after college, Murphy moved to New York City, where she spent years working at startups, recruiting for startups, and even spent some time at Goldman Sachs. About five years ago, Murphy moved back to Northeast Ohio so she could be closer to family. Murphy is now the vice president of community partnerships at Venture For America, a fellowship program for recent college graduates who want to become startup leaders and entrepreneurs. The organization places top graduates from universities across the country into startups in cities like Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh.
These three stories are not unique. Over the past year, Ive met and spoken with dozens of Ohioans who at one point lived and worked in places like New York City, Seattle, and San Francisco. Many are originally from Ohio, but not all. Some now work remotely for out-of-state companies and some moved here to join a local business. The one thing nearly all have in common is they work in technology or technology-focused careers.
As we move forward in a post-pandemic world, the cities and states that can keep, develop, and attract top talent will find themselves positioned for success. And while technology is great, its the people who make it all happen. Luckily for Ohio, we have the success stories that show the way.
Chris Berry is the president of OhioX, a statewide nonprofit technology and innovation partnership dedicated to helping make Ohio a leading tech hub. Its membership includes Fortune 500 companies, leading research institutions, technology-focused businesses, startups, and more. For more information, visit ohiox.org.
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