8 Reasons to Open a Tech Startup in Rural America

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There’s a circulating myth that tech startups only thrive in urban environments, but this holds little truth.

There’s a circulating myth that tech startups only thrive in urban environments, but this holds little truth. Many entrepreneurs launch tech startups in rural settings and are met with great success. Why? Because rural America holds many overlooked business benefits worth considering for those looking to launch or relocate a small- or medium-sized tech startup.

1. Change of Scenery

The word “rural” conjures images of golden plains and stretches of farmland, imagery that isn’t entirely unfounded. While most rural areas remain dependent upon agriculture as the keystone of their economy, these sprawling landscapes can still be ideal for suits as well as boots. A shift of scenery could be a refreshing change of pace from the concrete jungle many tech startups endure. And for those missing the perks of city life, many rural tech startup locations offer the best of both worlds. Take Red Wing, Minnesota, for example, which is less than 45 minutes away from an airport and urban shopping centers.

2. Lower Business Costs

Rural residents often claim lower household expenses and business costs than urban dwellers. That’s because when you’re surrounded by wide-open spaces, you don’t need to fight for a coveted piece of overpriced downtown property. In fact, some states, including Nebraska and Kansas, offer tax incentives simply for starting a business there. The federal government has also been known to offer financial incentives for moving your company to a nonmetropolitan area.

3. Less Traffic

If you’re tired of being stuck in traffic during the daily commute, relocating to a rural setting may be the answer. You’ll spend more time working on your business and living your life and less time waging war with traffic for hours each day. Although traffic may seem like a trivial reason to make a big decision, consider the cumulative benefit of spending less time in traffic every day before you dismiss it.

4. Untapped Talent

Talent leaving the quiet town for the flashy city is a classic narrative, but that doesn’t have to always be the case. The manufacturer ALCOM purposely moves to out-of-the-way spots because of the quality workforce it often finds there. If talent is nowhere to be found, you can always groom the next generation of talent while hiring remote employees or a virtual team. Or you could tout your rural location as an opportunity for big-city talent to return to small-town roots.

5. Available Technology

Rural areas may not have access to Google Fiber or other one-gigabit Internet offerings, but you can generally find a steady and reliable Wi-Fi signal. Some Internet Services Providers have even made it part of their business plan to deliver service to rural areas. Various cities, including Yakima, Washington, have made significant improvements to their technological infrastructure over the past few years. But not all rural areas have done this—be sure to check your options and potential internet speed and service offerings in the areas before finalizing a decision to move.

6. Close-Knit Communities

No two rural towns have the same community and culture, so you should check the tempo of your prospective town before deciding to relocate. If the pace and mindset match your own, you have a winner. If they don’t, continue your search. Some communities won’t be ready for your tech startup, no matter how you pitch it, but others will welcome you with open arms.

7. Valuable Networking Opportunities

Many tech startups cite community support and involvement as critical to success in a rural area. Local business chambers and networking groups provide chances to meet like-minded individuals who could become business or community partners and friends. Some small towns may even offer a business incubator. If one doesn’t exist, you could get the ball rolling by proposing to start one at the next chamber of commerce meeting.

8. Make an Impact

Starting a technology business offers exciting challenges and rewards. You watch as your business spreads its wings, struggles to fly, then eventually soars toward success. A similar phenomenon occurs within a rural setting, but on a much larger scale. In a rural location, you can get involved at the ground level and build a business and a community you can be proud of.

Location is no longer a limiting factor for tech startups—many rural settings deliver a strong community, business resources, and technological infrastructure support. Lowered living and startup costs, combined with the rich community, will grow your company’s profile and profits long-term. If you haven’t considered starting a business in a rural area yet, perhaps it’s time you put a small town on your radar.

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