Training and Development

Minneapolis: The chance to nurture a generation and thrive as a tech hub

This is a contributed piece from Andy Hardy, EMEA Managing Director at Code42

The Midwestern tech renaissance

On the face of things, it may seem that ambitious young professionals aiming to make an impact on the tech industry would have a very short list of locations to choose from as a starting place for their career. Promising destinations in the Midwest for example, may be overlooked in favour of Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley and Seattle—frequently identified as the only locations able to provide the networks and resources necessary to develop and retain tech talent.

However, outside of these three regions there are many tech companies making a serious bid to establish themselves as global leaders, and their cities as centres for technological innovation. Improved infrastructure, booming populations and improved quality of life have all been cited as contributing factors to a Midwestern tech renaissance, and for a prime example of this regeneration in action, one need look no further than the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.

Development of new talent is key

Minneapolis is ideally placed to take full advantage of the talent pool on offer from across the upper Midwestern states, with many rival tech hubs based hundreds of miles further south.

With this comes the opportunity for tech companies to nurture a region’s talent and influence the next generation of employees. Having been based in Minneapolis since foundation, we know how big a role companies can play in inspiring technology professionals in the area and proving to them that they can help build an international company in their own backyard. This feeling of ownership is vitally important in giving employees the sense that they are having a real impact in their region, something that the major tech hubs cannot offer.

Care in the community

This chance to nurture professionals and build a local community is a team effort that goes beyond one company’s strong product. It is also very important that the next generation possess the skills necessary to operate in a constantly evolving field. At Code42, we believe it’s our responsibility to safeguard the future of the technology scene in Minneapolis, and that’s why we’re committed to supporting organisations such as CoderDojo Twin Cities and Girls in Tech, both of which play such a significant role in developing talent.

CoderDojo Twin Cities was formed in 2013 as an international movement of free coding clubs for kids. It has helped almost 1,000 children and young adults in Minnesota learn to code. The events are open to students from 8 to 17 years old, and the staff is comprised of volunteer mentors and coordinators with varying degrees of programming experience. It hasn’t taken long for the these workshops to become noticeable; tickets for CoderDojo events fly out, with a recent batch being snapped up within 45 seconds of becoming available online. It’s testament to the level of interest in building the Minneapolis tech scene.

Girls in Tech, on the other hand, is a global social network enterprise which aims to connect professional, intelligent and influential women in the technology sector. The organisation offers a variety of initiatives for women and girls to enhance their professional aspirations, including mentorship programs, conferences, bootcamps and online education.

Whilst assisting these organisations is certainly worthwhile as an altruistic endeavour, it also provides tangible benefits for the local tech scene, which in turn generates recruitment opportunities for tech companies. The ability to bring smart, eager and passionate local talent into companies has been hugely important for the development of the tech industry in Minneapolis. Once the talent has arrived though, local companies are tasked with holding onto it.

Values add value

Having developed this generation of technology professionals, the next step for cities like Minneapolis is to hold onto this talent to build international organisations. To do that, companies need to create a strong team ethos that employees buy into. For example, we place a major emphasis on our mid-western values as a company and building a real team. Only candidates who are prepared to move to Minneapolis will be considered for a position with the company (outside of field sales roles, of course), ensuring high levels of face-to-face interaction and plenty of collaborative work among employees.

There’s plenty we can learn from Minneapolis’ development into a burgeoning tech hub. In order for other locations to follow suit, companies need to ensure that the infrastructure is in place that will allow them to nurture and maintain talent. This can only be achieved through investment of time and resources in organisations that seek to maximise students’ interest in tech, and provide them with the skills that are a prerequisite for a career in the industry.

Cities aiming to compete with Silicon Valley must also offer new hires a genuine alternative; of prime example: the Midwestern values and culture upon which Minneapolis companies pride themselves. A strong ongoing commitment to community and culture is a unique selling point that businesses in these regions can offer employees. They give people the chance to make a mark and put their region on the map. These are the truly innovative regions.


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