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These far-flung US regions could become the next big startup hubs as techies abandon Silicon Valley and embrace remote work

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  • The COVID crisis has forced tech companies to embrace remote work, and many have come to realize their employees can be just as productive working out of the office as in it.
  • Some are now planning to allow much of their workforce to continue work remotely after the crisis passes; companies could save money if employees work in less costly areas of the country than traditional tech hubs.
  • Facebook plans to support employees working far from its Silicon Valley headquarters, setting up regional hubs in Dallas, Atlanta, and Denver, and is planning on cutting salaries for workers who move to those places; it likely won't be the last.
  • As they look to distribute their workforces, companies are likely to focus on areas with existing tech workforces and companies; And entrepreneurs will have more freedom to set-up shop and launch a startup outside the big tech bastions.
  • The good news is there are lots of regions in the US — outside of San Francisco, Boston and New York — where venture capital has been quietly flowing. These regions could become the sites of new tech boomlets. 
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In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, the tech industry is likely to become a lot more dispersed.
Most tech companies closed their offices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and encouraged their employees to work remotely. Now, Facebook and Twitter, among others, have announced they will allow many employees to work outside their corporate suites even after the crisis passes. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has even laid out plans for setting up office hubs in second or third-tier tech cities, including Dallas, Atlanta, and Denver.
It's likely Facebook won't be alone. The coronavirus crisis has demonstrated that much office work can be accomplished remotely. With average salaries considerably lower in other parts of the country than in traditional tech hot zones such as Silicon Valley, New York, and Boston, companies could save money by having more decentralized workforces.
That shift away from traditional tech hubs had already started before the epidemic took hold. In looking at where to set up new offices or find new workers, companies may look closely at regions that already have well-established, thriving tech scenes.
Tech entrepreneurs may also gravitate towards these regions as they build their next startup, with the advent of remote work lessening the need to set-up shop in one of the big, traditional tech cities.
So what are some of the regions in the US that could see an influx of tech talent and startups?
One way to judge that is to look at the list of states whose startups are drawing in the most venture capital. Every year, the National Venture Capital Association and PitchBook put together just such a list. Here, in reverse order, are the top states — other than the traditional top 3 of California, New York, and Massachusetts — in terms of the amount of venture capital their startups attracted last year:

5. Colorado

Colorado startups attracted $2.5 billion of venture capital last year, and 361 companies raised venture funding, according to the NVCA and Pitchbook. The state, the first to legalize recreational marijuana use, has become a hub for cannabis startups.
Among Colorado's more notable venture-backed companies are education technology company Guild Education and cash-back shopping app maker Ibotta, both based in Denver and valued at $1 billion each.

4. Pennsylvania

Venture firms invested $2.7 billion in a total of 265 Pennsylvania-based startups in 2019. The state has two main economic centers. Philadelphia is home to Comcast and has long been a hub for the healthcare and financial services industries. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is the locus of Carnegie Mellon University, which has a world-renowned engineering department and has been on the cutting edge of autonomous vehicle research.
Uber Advanced Technologies Group, the self-driving car technology spinoff of the ride-hailing company valued at $7.3 billion, is based in Pittsburgh. Dynamics, a financial technology startup that's developed a credit card with a built-in computer, is headquartered outside Philadelphia.

3. Florida

Florida startups drew in $2.9 billion in funding last year, with 255 companies getting venture backing. The Sunshine State has become a quiet power in the tech industry. Among states with the most tech jobs, it ranks no. 4, trailing only California, Texas, and New York, according to CompTIA, an industry trade group. And it ranked no. 3 in terms of tech jobs gained in 2019.
Among its more notable startups are Magic Leap, the augmented reality device developer that recently laid off half its workforce, but also just raised $350 million, and KnowBe4, a cybersecurity awareness company valued at $1 billion.

2. Texas

Investors ploughed $3.7 billion into Texas startups in 2019, backing 538 of them. The state has long been nurturing its tech scene with hubs in Dallas, Austin, and Houston. Texas had the second highest number of tech jobs and posted the second biggest gain in such jobs last year, trailing only California in both categories, according to CompTIA.
Austin
Among the state's unicorns — startups valued at $1 billion or more — is Houston-based enterprise software firm HighRadius.

1. Washington

Washington startups attracted $3.9 billion in venture funding last year, and 421 got backing. Home to Microsoft and Amazon, the Seattle area has long been a tech hub. And the state ranked no. 6 in tech jobs gained last year.
The state's unicorns include Convoy, which offers a service that connects shippers and truckers; identity authentication company Auth0; and Icertis, whose service digitizes and analyzes contracts.
Got a tip about startups or the tech industry? Contact Troy Wolverton via email at twolverton@businessinsider.com, message him on Twitter @troywolv, or send him a secure message through Signal at 415.515.5594. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.
SEE ALSO: Startup advocates worry venture-backed companies that got money under the $670 billion small-business loan program are going to have to give it back
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