About 15 to 20 technology start-ups are started every year in eastern Nebraska, a more than three times increase from five years ago, according to the Omaha Chamber of Commerce. Over the past seven months, about 60 start-ups have presented ideas in Missouri, and 160 start-ups in Iowa applied in 2010 with Startup City Des Moines, an incubator financed with $700,000 in public and private money, including a quarter-million dollars from the state.
"Traditionally, you’d say, 'Hey, if I want the safe lifestyle, I’ll stay here and I’ll do what generations before have done,'" said Jeff Slobotski, Omaha native and founder of Silicon Prairie News, a site covering the region’s tech scene. "Now, there is a newer potential in terms of what can take place here and not having to hop on the first plane out of here, saying, 'Hey, I’m going to set up shop in the Midwest and make a go at it here.'" Many people credit Silicon Prairie News for the region's start-up growth, Eligon reports, because other than writing about start-up news, the site organizes conventions to connect entrepreneurs with investors.
The region's tech entrepreneurs say the nature of their businesses is unique to the Midwest. Companies that have started in the last year include Ag Local, which provides an online marketplace to trade meat, and Tikly, which allows bands to sell concert tickets. There are also start-ups outside the information technology field that focus on biotechnology, manufacturing and medical devices. (Read more)