The Next Big Tech Hub?
Kelly Wong, June 3, 2015
With the tech-driven growth that many places have seen, cities all over the US are trying to become the next big tech hub. Cities are trying to woo developers, incentivize start-up development, or become the next city with Google Fiber. However, Chattanooga, with its superfast fiber-optic broadband network, knows that high speed Internet isn’t the only thing that’s needed to attract tech companies. They’ve already seen economic growth from the higher broadband speeds, but they’re also trying to increase density and strategize ways to continue growing sustainably by diversifying development.
But while other cities strive to attract large tech companies, Mountain View is growing wary of them. Recently, the city denied a Google plan to build its new headquarters there, despite Google offering $240 million in community benefits for the development rights. Instead, Mountain View awarded LinkedIn the rights to develop in North Bayshore, in order to avoid becoming dependent on one big company.
There is some reason to their fears. Silicon Valley’s rapid growth has transformed nearby cities, and it’s spilling over. Demand for housing is high, and it’s driving up rents. The existing infrastructure is nowhere near sufficient to handle the volume of users, resulting in traffic congestion and constant transit woes. Bay Area cities have grown rapidly, and there is definite backlash. Even cities in the East Bay have seen dramatic and rapid development. Many cities located near BART stations have seen an influx of housing and retail development.
One developer, Lennar, is counting on the continued spillover of tech workers into neighboring cities. They’ve bought an 11-acre chunk of land in Fremont that they intend to develop into 2200 houses, apartments and offices. This is in addition to two other large housing developments that Lennar is intending to build in San Francisco. Other developers have followed suit and bought parcels of land, albeit smaller. While these developments will take over a decade to complete, demand is high, and still growing.