Indianapolis is pharmaceuticals and sinus-cleansing shrimp cocktail. Brick kissing, milk chugging, and Vonnegut’s sardonic verse. The blue fog of industry and blue-collar politics. It’s basketball courtesy of the state’s countryside and football courtesy of Baltimore.
One thing Indy hasn’t historically been: a tech hub.
Earlier this year, Indianapolis welcomed Salesforce to its skyline. Following the company’s subsumption of the old Chase Tower, The New York Times published a piece on the future of tech in Indianapolis. The article highlights successful tech start-ups and the robust tech-oriented degree programs across Indiana’s universities, public and private. At best, the piece’s tone is sanguine toward the tech industry’s future here. It doesn’t provide any grandiose prophecy, especially given the state’s political climate and RFRA catastrophe that sparked the ire of local business owners.
It’s easy to get caught up in the glitz, glamour and cash that comes with tech—and yes, jobs of any mold positively affect the city’s economy and future outlook. Let’s be honest: it’s an anomaly and an achievement for any city in the Midwest to boast any growth in the tech sector. But the tech industry isn’t the future of Indianapolis. Today, tech thrives on each of the nation’s coasts; the industry is geographically polarized. The rapid development of tech in San Francisco and San Jose dwarfs Indy’s numbers.
Here’s another important tidbit: Salesforce also recently erected a tower in San Francisco. Design experts are praising the building’s intentionality and efficiency, contrasting it with Apple’s sprawling, superfluous futurist campus in Cupertino. Indianapolis might provide an adequate educational funnel for tech jobs, but the city doesn’t offer proximity to key players in the tech world.
Indianapolis’ future rests on how the small businesses that built the city will leverage technology to expand services and adapt to a changing market of tech savvy consumers. That’s what we, at Hatchet, are interested in—and it’s what our clients do everyday. The arrival of tech giants provides a welcome nuance to the city’s economy; however, it will not redefine it.