The Midwest Advantage

Karl R. LaPan, President and CEO of The NIIC

So often we associate innovation and entrepreneurship with Silicon Valley or Cambridge startups. While both coasts get a lot of press for having dynamic and engaging ecosystems, there’s so much more to the entrepreneurial story. But as we know good midwesterners just don’t brag enough about themselves like what we see in other geographies around the globe.

The middle-America entrepreneurial movement is energized. There are real and clear advantages to building companies outside the traditional entrepreneurial hotspots. Here are 3 reasons why the heartland is hot, when it comes to starting or scaling a business and why places like The NIIC attract global attention and have a world-class reputation:

1. Smart Right-Fit Talent: The Midwest is home to Tier 1 research universities with strong commercialization centers, which in turn develops talented engineers, scientists, technologists, finance professionals and even entrepreneurs. And they are staying here. Organizations like the Questa Education Foundation locally incentivize Indiana students to pursue work in the state following graduation and lessen their school debt making it more likely they can be entrepreneurial. A little know fact is the amount of credit card debt a graduating college student has and the amount of school debt have cause millennials to have the lowest new venture formation rate of any age group. Our workforce tends to be scrappy and motivated. Our work ethic is unrivaled.

2. Collaborative spirit:  Due in part to the how leaders and people do business in the midwest, the level of access you have to other entrepreneurs, larger supply chain companies and political leaders is remarkable. Also, there tends to be mentality of paying it forward that has helped businesses of all sizes grow and thrive. Business leaders tend to be less guarded here when it comes to sharing knowledge and experience—and that’s a boon for the entrepreneurial community. Finding and engaging mentors, trusted advisors and people invested your success is a hallmark of the Midwest’s reputation.

3. Affordability but more importantly proximity. Not everyone can afford to live in San Francisco. The Midwest is an attractive alternative to high-priced apartments, hour-long commutes and the general stressors that come with big city life. Fort Wayne in particular gets high marks for housing affordability. Home ownership for a middle-class family is in reach here, in contrast to coastal areas. Plus, from a business standpoint, costs like real estate and taxes tend to be lower in the Midwest. Indiana is known to have a pro-business climate. There’s a reason Salesforce was attracted to Indianapolis. It leased about 250,000 square feet in Indianapolis’ tallest building and plans to expand its workforce significantly. In addition, Indiana is at the crossroads of the United States. You are able to get to nearly 90% of the US population in a day’s drive making us a magnet for the transportation and logistics industry (As Amazon and many others have found out!).

The NIIC is proud to offer its world-class resources to all stage of business from the innovator who has just conceived an idea to large employers with over 10,000 employees looking to actualize innovation as a core value while more meaningfully engaging its workforce. Check out our wide-range of innovation and entrepreneurship programs and see how you start, grow or scale with the NIIC.

If you have relocated a business here from a bigger city outside the Midwest, what points of difference have you experienced here?


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