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Investment in tech startups is surging in Mountain West cities

The Downtown Reno skyline on a sunny day.
Tony Perreira
Flickr Creative Commons
Since the pandemic, a growing number of tech startup companies have moved to Reno, Nev., from large metro cities like San Francisco.

A new study shows venture capital investment in tech startups is surging across the United States, including parts of the Mountain West.

Across all U.S. metros, the average venture capital investment per capita is about $1,800, according to Heartland Forward, a think tank that analyzed data from 2019 to 2021.

Several Mountain West cities are above the national average and crack the top 20. That includes third-ranked Boulder ($13,171) and 19th-ranked Denver ($2,344) in Colorado; fifth-ranked Carson City ($9,734) and 18th-ranked Reno-Sparks ($2,531) in Nevada; and 14th-ranked Salt Lake City ($3,872) and 17th-ranked Provo-Orem ($3,304) in Utah.

In New Mexico, the highest investment per capita is in Sante Fe ($1,477). In Wyoming, it’s in Cheyenne ($648).

The Mountain West is attracting tech startups for a number of reasons, said study co-author Richard Florida, a professor at the University of Toronto and Rotman School of Management.

“It's really leveraging the great universities and scientific capability that's in the region,” Florida said. “It has fantastic outdoor activity. Tech talent, creative talent, knowledge workers love urban amenities and they love restaurants and cafes, but they love outdoor amenities.”

Other big draws are the cheap costs to start and run a business in Mountain West states and low costs of living compared to tech bubbles on the coasts, Florida said.

He expects tech investment in the region to continue growing, as long as there’s enough water, land and housing to go around.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The photo included in this story is licensed under Flickr Creative Commons.

Kaleb is an award-winning journalist and KUNR’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter. His reporting covers issues related to the environment, wildlife and water in Nevada and the region.

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