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3 views on the life and death of college towns, remote work and the future of startup hubs
The global pandemic has halted travel, shunted schools online and shut down many cities, but the future of college-town America is an area of deep concern for the startup world.
College towns have done exceedingly well with the rise of the knowledge economy and concentrating students and talent in dense social webs. That confluence of ideas and skill fueled the rise of a whole set of startup clusters outside major geos like the Bay Area, but with COVID-19 bearing down on these ecosystems and many tech workers considering remote work, what does the future look like for these cradles of innovation?
We have three angles on this topic from the Equity podcast crew:
Danny Crichton: One of the few urban success stories outside the big global cities like New York, Tokyo, Paris and London has been a small set of cities that have used a mix of their proximity to power (state capitals), knowledge (universities) and finance (local big companies) to build innovative economies. That includes places like Austin, Columbus, Chattanooga, Ann Arbor, Urbana, Denver, Atlanta and Minneapolis, among many others.
Over the past two decades, there was an almost magical economic alchemy underway in these locales. Universities attracted large numbers of bright and ambitious students, capitals and state government offices offered a financial base to the regional economy and local big companies offered the jobs and stability that allow innovation to flourish.
All that has disappeared, leading to some critics, like Noah Smith, to ask whether Coronavirus Will End the Golden Age for College Towns?