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posted by martyb on Friday January 14, @04:23PM   Printer-friendly

The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley:

POLITICAL LEADERS HAVE been trying to replicate Silicon Valley’s high-tech magic since the invention of the microchip. A tech-curious Charles de Gaulle, then president of France, toured Palo Alto in his convertible limousine in 1960. Russian Federation President Dmitri Medvedev dressed business casual to meet and tweet with Valley social media tycoons in 2010. Hundreds of eager delegations, foreign and domestic, visited in between. “Silicon Valley,” inventor and entrepreneur Robert Metcalfe once remarked, “is the only place on earth not trying to figure out how to become Silicon Valley.”

In the US, too, leaders have long tried to engineer another Silicon Valley. Yet billions of dollars of tax breaks and “Silicon Something” marketing campaigns later, no place has matched the original’s track record for firm creation and venture capital investment—and these efforts often ended up benefiting multinational corporations far more than the regions themselves. Wisconsin promised more than $4 billion in tax breaks and subsidies to Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn in 2017, only to see plans for a $10 billion factory and 13,000 jobs evaporate after hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars had already been spent to prepare for Foxconn’s arrival. Amazon’s 2017 search for a second headquarters had 238 American cities falling over each other to woo one of the world’s richest corporations with tax-and-subsidy packages, only to see HQ2 go to two places Amazon likely would have chosen anyway because of their preexisting tech talent. One of the winners, Northern Virginia, promised Amazon up to $773 million in state and local tax subsidies—a public price tag for gleaming high-tech towers that seems especially steep as Amazon joins other tech giants in indefinitely pushing back post-pandemic plans to return to the office.

While the American tech industry is vastly larger than it used to be, the list of top tech clusters—the Bay Area, Seattle, Boston, Austin—has remained largely unchanged since the days of 64K desktop computers and floppy disks. Even the disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic have done little to alter this remarkably static and highly imbalanced tech geography.

[...] It wasn’t just tech policy that made these regions what they are, however. Social spending mattered too. In the prosperous postwar years, the GI Bill sent millions of veterans to college and helped them buy homes. States like California enlarged public higher education systems, making it easy to obtain a low-cost, top-flight university education. Schools and local infrastructure were well-funded, especially in the growing suburbs that many tech people and companies called home.

[...] The US government had a transformative impact on high-tech development when its leaders were willing to spend big money on research, advanced technology, and higher education—and keep at it for quite some time.

[...] The next Silicon Valley will not come from a race to the bottom, from who can offer the most tax cuts, the leanest government, the loosest regulations. It will result from the kind of broad, sustained public investment that built the original Valley.


Why do you think "Silicon Valleys" elsewhere did not become as successful?

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  • (Score: 2) by D2 on Saturday January 15, @12:43AM (2 children)

    by D2 (5107) on Saturday January 15, @12:43AM (#1212811)

    Agreed that the RTP area had mojo in the 70s, but my impression is that it has faded not grown, and is getting those offices expressly because it's a dense concentration of tech people and inexpensive real estate in a favorable location.

    Places along the columbia river between OR and WA are getting tech offices. DC, NYC's Silicon Alley, Seattle, Portland OR and DC all have more mojo than NC. Denver, Chicago, KC, Atlanta, Tampa, Salt Lake, San Diego, and Phoenix all have similar levels of tech enthusiasm as Research Triangle Park... Internationally, there's a similar long long list of tech centers. And once the list hits 25, 50, 100 communities, the question resurfaces: are any realistically going to be as uniquely a focal point for new industry as Silicon Valley?

    So far, no one location seems likely.

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by TheGratefulNet on Saturday January 15, @03:48PM (1 child)

    by TheGratefulNet (659) on Saturday January 15, @03:48PM (#1212934)

    if there was any doubt before the pandemic - its all cleared up at this point - that the south is NOT a place that respects human life.

    the phrase 'business friendly' is a very dark one. meaning, it sacrifices you so that 'business can profit'. human life takes a 2nd to that.

    how the various states responded to their population in trouble and needing help - it was never more clear than the last 2 years.

    you can't pay me to even ENTER the south for a visit. that's it - I dont intend to even cross borders into red states. not worth the risk. those people dont think like I do, they dont respect life and human dignity and they'll lie and continue to put lies, guns and jesus above all else. fuck that shit.

    it was never more clear who is fighting for you and who is in the pockets of the big bosses. oh, and unions are attacked at every opportunity in the south. another reason to avoid the south.

    just not worth even thinking about what your life would be like if you moved there for a job. basically a one way trip to hell.

    no thanks.

    "It is now safe to switch off your computer."
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15, @09:32PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15, @09:32PM (#1213010)

      You are a raving lunatic. Another mind broken by non-stop COVID panic.