Bloomberg recently named Ann Arbor America's No. 3 tech hub, following only San Jose, Calif.; and Boulder, Colo.
Bloomberg scored cities on a 100-point scale, evaluating how many people have STEM jobs, science and engineering degrees, and advanced degrees. Ann Arbor received a 98.97 score, with 18.3% of the population holding an advanced degree, 15.5% holding a science or engineering degree, and 6.6% holding STEM jobs.
Bill Mayer, vice president of entrepreneurial services at Ann Arbor SPARK, says the commonality between Ann Arbor and the other top tech hubs is close proximity to a university. The University of Michigan's (U-M) large investment in research compared to other institutions is a huge advantage for Ann Arbor.
"U-M is way above its weight in terms of research activity," Mayer says. "It's the largest research public university with $1.5 billion of federally-funded research happening in Ann Arbor."
Along with research, U-M also provides multiple entrepreneurship opportunities for students to explore starting their own companies, empowering students to expand Ann Arbor's tech landscape.
With this national recognition, Mayer says Ann Arbor will play to its strengths when comparing itself to other tech hubs like San Jose and Boulder.
"If we're positioning ourselves against these places, a huge asset for Ann Arbor is the livability, the number of parks, school systems, housing prices, our downtown environment," Mayer says. "We're really lucky."
Compared to the other top tech hubs, the Ann Arbor area is in uniquely positioned for continued growth. Mayer says growth in the tech industry should enhance the Ann Arbor culture and is beneficial in that tech companies typically do not require large spaces.
"We want to be the best Ann Arbor we can be," Mayer says. "It's not anyone's goal to make us San Jose or Boulder. We want to be true to ourselves and Ann Arbor growth is going to happen whether we're ready or not, so we need to be intentional and deliberate."
Emily Benda is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. You can contact her at email@example.com.
Photo courtesy of Ann Arbor SPARK.