Cool with an asterisk

I always have mixed emotions when Milwaukee finds itself ranked on a national list of cool places that you didn’t know were cool.
But that seems to be a perpetual plight for the Cream City.
The latest: Milwaukee ranks No. 1 atop the list of “11 Cities You Wouldn’t Expect for Tech.” The list was compiled by Verigent, a Charlotte, N.C.-based staffing company serving the telecommunications and information technology industries.
“Everyone knows America’s ‘tech cities.’ There’s Silicon Valley, of course, and neighboring San Francisco. There’s Seattle, there’s New York, and even Miami’s got a vibrant tech scene. But there are a number of cities flying just below the tech jobs-radar, expanding their industry footprint one startup at a time, many of which might surprise you. Whether you’re looking for IT temp work, want to launch a career in programming, or even have the engineering bug, these 11 cities are worth a second look,” Verigent stated.
The authors of the rankings acknowledged that their report is based on anecdotal observations, rather than actual economic or jobs data. So, take it with a grain of salt.
“Milwaukee, surprisingly, has half of all Wisconsin’s tech business and there are few cities outpacing them in high-tech innovation,” Verigent said. “When the city’s manufacturing sector took a huge hit in the last few decades, industry leaders have done a great job marrying technological innovation with old-school manufacturing techniques.”
Well thank you very much. But just once, I’d like to see Milwaukee atop a list of cool, but without the asterisk that it is surprisingly so. It’s like they are forever saying, “You’re really cool, and that surprises the heck out of us that you’re really cool.”
It’s a backhanded compliment.
For the record, the other cities on the surprising Tech Cities list include: Indianapolis, San Juan (Puerto Rico), Charlotte (go figure), Omaha, Virginia Beach, Albany, Kansas City, Boise, Albuquerque and Provo.
“Surprised? You don’t have to live in one of the five biggest cities in the U.S. to find job opportunities in tech, particularly if you’re willing to travel for work or even move to a totally new city altogether. The tech industry is growing and expanding every single day across the U.S. and it’s only a matter of time until the next Silicon Valley is crowned,” Verigent said.
Imagine that. Someone actually willing to move here to work.

Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes.

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