Surprise findings in a Top 25 that otherwise secures Silicon Valley’s crown as king of tech

Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina., June 8, 2017 – Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina, has emerged in fifth place within the top 25 U.S. tech cities, with San Jose (Silicon Valley) and San Francisco capturing the first and second spots respectively, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s inaugural “Tech Cities 1.0” national report launched today.

“Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, often referred to as the ‘Triangle’ by locals because of the shape these three proximate cities form on a map, has developed into a major market for technology companies given the area’s deep pool of skilled labor, the presence of three prominent universities, and its reputation as a medical and technology research hub,” said Mr. Rich Harris, Managing Principal, Cushman & Wakefield, specializing in tenant brokerage and expert on the tech sector, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

The top 25 tech cities were determined by analyzing the concentration of factors such as talent, capital, and growth opportunity – the key ingredients that comprise a tech stew. The heartiest of these tech epicenters are: 1. San Jose, CA (Silicon Valley); 2. San Francisco, CA; 3. Washington, DC; 4. Boston/Cambridge, MA; and 5. Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC.
Cushman & Wakefield created the “Tech Cities 1.0” report to provide greater insight for its clients and industry stakeholders into existing and emerging tech centers that are driving much of today’s U.S. economy.

Ken McCarthy, Cushman & Wakefield’s New York-based Principal Economist and Applied Research Lead for the U.S., states that “tech is in everything” and that people would be left behind if they did not adopt technology and change with that technology.

“Basically every company today is a tech company in one way or another. We’re all using it, we’re using various aspects of tech companies to do various things,” Mr. McCarthy elaborated. “Whether it’s Salesforce as customer relationship management, or Workday for HR, and various other database programs, the old way of doing business just doesn’t work anymore.”
Report co-author and Regional Director, Northwest U.S. Research at Cushman & Wakefield, in San Francisco, Robert Sammons, said that while it was not surprising to see San Jose (Silicon Valley) and San Francisco continue to dominate, that mass-transit issues and escalating housing costs in those areas have fanned a tech spillover into secondary markets such as Austin (no. 7), Denver (no. 8), San Diego (no. 9), and Salt Lake City (no. 24).

Mr. Harris explained that local factors combined with the high prevalence of PhDs, world-class researchers, talented engineers, techies, and entrepreneurs make the conditions ripe for startups of all kinds.

“It’s not uncommon to see a doctor leave a career at a hospital to start a company based on decades of research, or a technology executive at one of the major R&D companies in the Park leaving a position to pursue a specialized line of technology that’s too specific for a larger company to pursue; and they often separate amicably and with the backing of their previous employers. Once they start their companies, the feeder of local graduates – coupled with the talent migrating to the Triangle – serve as a potent workforce.”

“One of the more interesting transformations has been the impact of the ‘live-work-play’ phenomenon, which has rapidly built up our city centers across the Triangle, particularly in downtown Durham where there was an abundance of historic tobacco warehouses that were converted to sleek tech workspaces with hardwood floors, big bay windows, large timbers, and high ceilings.
“Most of these buildouts were aided by historic tax credits, which enabled companies to create one-of-a-kind destination spaces for tech companies,” Mr. Harris continued. “In both the CBDs of Raleigh and Durham, we have seen a proliferation of co-working and entrepreneurial support organizations such as the Council for Entrepreneurial Development, American Underground, Raleigh HQ, and others.”

“Other factors contributing to tech growth are more basic,” Mr. Harris elaborated, “such as the Triangle’s quality of life, which boasts direct access to the beach to the east and the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west. The Triangle is also very competitive from a cost-of-living standpoint, especially when compared to first-tier city tech hotbeds that are often triple the price to do business.”
To his point, Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina, outranked cities that have significant Tech reputations such as Seattle, New York, and Los Angeles.
Mr. Sammons cited Seattle’s cost-of-living as a lingering issue, somewhat mitigated by a recent uptick in residential development that’s outpacing San Francisco’s, as well as mass transit challenges.

“Seattle has played catchup over the past few years but with housing creation now outpacing that of the Bay Area and with a huge $54 billion transportation initiative that recently passed at the ballot box, it will likely allow it to compete much more aggressively with those markets at the very top of the list.”
“In the case of New York, when we started to see a growth in tech employment here about four or five years ago, one of the big issues for the companies coming to New York, particularly from San Francisco or Silicon Valley, was a lack of the skilled labor force they needed, particularly engineers,” Mr. McCarthy said.
In terms of Los Angeles, both Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Sammons noted its exceptionally diverse economy.

“Media is important, and you can’t lose sight of the fact that historically it’s also been an important manufacturing and industrial center,” Mr. McCarthy said, “There are myriad industries centered in LA, which has a good talent pool, and I would expect that also will come into play as we start to see these things evolve.”

For a copy of the Tech Cities 1.0 report visit Cushman & Wakefield here.

About Cushman & Wakefield
Cushman & Wakefield is a leading global real estate services firm that helps clients transform the way people work, shop, and live. Our 45,000 employees in more than 70 countries help occupiers and investors optimize the value of their real estate by combining our global perspective and deep local knowledge with an impressive platform of real estate solutions. Cushman & Wakefield is among the largest commercial real estate services firms with revenue of $6 billion across core services of agency leasing, asset services, capital markets, facility services (C&W Services), global occupier services, investment & asset management (DTZ Investors), project & development services, tenant representation, and valuation & advisory. 2017 marks the 100-year anniversary of the Cushman & Wakefield brand. 100 years of taking our clients’ ideas and putting them into action. To learn more, visit www.cushwakecentennial.com, www.cushmanwakefield.com or follow @CushWake on Twitter.