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Tech Cities 2.0: Top 25 Tech Cities – Chicago

By: Daniel Schack, Analyst, Chicago Research

Once a major hub for hard goods, Chicago has adapted to software manufacturing, establishing itself as one of the major tech cities in the country. Chicago boasts an educated and young workforce—more than one-third of Chicago’s millennial population have bachelor’s degrees, and, with two of the top business schools in the world, employers have access to some of the best talent in the country. Since the cost of living is significantly lower than other tech markets such as Los Angeles, San Francisco or New York, Chicago is an appealing choice for the young talent tech companies are looking for and has drawn Microsoft, Google, Salesforce and Facebook.

Quality of Life

Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods and food, free concerts and events, architecture and cultural offerings make it a stimulating place to live. The city recently added parks and
bikeways to already robust green space and lakefront access. During the cold months, museums and Broadway shows keep people entertained, as well as lots of music, comedy (think Improv Olympic and Second City), and small theater productions. Population has grown rapidly due to a mix of empty-nesters leaving the suburbs and recent college grads moving into the city; as a result, rent and housing purchase costs increased.

Tech in the News

When tech companies such as Motorola first came into the city years ago, they chose loft office spaces to attract young talent; now they’re leasing traditional office space too. New
developments are very popular for major software companies too.

Hottest Submarket

While River North used to be the only hot submarket for tech companies, other areas across Chicago are becoming attractive too. Fulton Market has made a name for itself as a major tech market largely due to Google’s presence. The West Loop has also seen an increase in leasing activity in part due to the abundance of new construction.

For more insights into how Chicago ranks among the top 25 tech markets, check out Cushman & Wakefield’s Tech Cities Interactive Map and download the full report.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (statistics represent MSA as of mid-year
2081), Moody’s Analytics, PitchBook, RCA, Cushman & Wakefield Research

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