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The Silicon Prairie: The new frontier for startups

Written by Matt Westenburg

With more than 18 years of experience as a certified public accountant, Matt has helped companies develop & validate business models, raise capital and provide management expertise. He enjoys working with entrepreneurs who are passionate about achieving their goals and bettering the community. He was voted the Silicon Prairie “Service Provider of the Year” and has been recognized multiple times for his contributions to the local entrepreneurial community.

The Great Plains are once again being recognized as a frontier for exploration. Instead of pioneers establishing farmland, entrepreneurs are developing the nation’s hottest startup companies. This explosion of new businesses, many of which are built around technology, has earned the Midwest a new label: the Silicon Prairie. The Silicon Prairie generally includes the areas surrounding Des Moines, Kansas City and Lincoln.

Midwestern values benefit business

Entrepreneurs seek the Midwest for its low cost of living, but many stay for the people. Midwesterners are notoriously nice, hardworking people. This can-do attitude combined with their community support has helped startup companies thrive in the Great Plains. Plus, startups in the Midwest are able to draw talent from some of the country’s best universities located throughout the Great Plains. As more companies realized the benefits of moving to the middle of nowhere, the Midwest became “somewhere” and a movement began. Now, tech businesses and startups are relocating to the Silicon Prairie just to be a part of the entrepreneurial explosion.

Although the challenge of recruiting employees and investors can make startup development more difficult, it’s not stopping growth in the Great Plains.

Overcoming Midwest stereotypes

One of the challenges for businesses in the Silicon Prairie is attracting new talent and investors from outside the Midwest. Most recent graduates are looking for employment in big cities located in New York or California. It can be difficult to convince people that the Great Plains have thriving urban areas, not just cornfields and tractors. This trend seems to be changing, however. Although the challenge of recruiting employees and investors can make startup development more difficult, it’s not stopping growth in the Great Plains.

Hudl, one of the Silicon Prairie’s first success stories, began with three employees. Today, there are over 400 people working for Hudl in 14 different countries. To accommodate their expanding business, Hudl is constructing a new office headquarters. They could have built their $32 million building anywhere, but the sports tech company chose to stay in the heart of the Great Plains. Hudl’s decision proves that not only is the Silicon Prairie a great place to start your startup, but it’s also the perfect location for established businesses to continue their success.

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