May 14, 2015 - 4:30pm

U.S. Chamber Quarterly Spring 2015: The Power of Free Enterprise - America’s Silicon Cities

The business road map to success stretches across the United States— beyond Silicon Valley and even the biggest cities. So where else is business booming, and what are the factors driving that success?

Free Enterprise is exploring through a yearlong journey how entrepreneurs and businesses are faring outside established urban centers. In places like Oklahoma City; Des Moines, Iowa; and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, elected officials and businesses are harnessing resources to fuel economic growth.

Oklahoma City doesn’t benefit from a temperate climate or a lush natural landscape. Yet young people are moving there in large numbers. Between 2004 and 2014, its population expanded by roughly 50,000, becoming a go-to place for young, educated workers.

Government and business have teamed up to transform the city into a more walkable, enjoyable place to call home.

“We added a new central park—70 acres in size—to be right downtown,” says Mayor Mick Cornett, who also notes development of a streetcar and outdoor sporting venues like canoeing, kayaking, and rowing.

When most people think finance and insurance, they don’t necessarily think of Des Moines. Perhaps they should.

The city is a global hub of the insurance industry, which accounts for roughly 16% of the region’s jobs with more than 80 such businesses requiring all kinds of skilled workers. How does a city roughly 43 times smaller than the Big Apple compete?

Conglomerates such as ING and Nationwide, lured initially by the state’s economic history and favorable taxation policy, quickly recognized that the cost of doing business in Des Moines is often significantly lower than in big cities— where a mix of federal, state, and local taxes typically proves to be prohibitively costly. Matt Anderson, assistant city manager, says the city continues to attract business as state lawmakers hone policy and adjust the regulatory environment.

Sioux Falls, home to just shy of 165,000 people, ranked as one of the fastest- growing cities in the United States over the past decade.

Coupled with favorable state and local regulations, efforts by Mayor Mike Huether have helped stimulate business. Last December, the city’s 3.1% unemployment rate was 2.5 percentage points lower than the national rate.

The linchpin of that success has come from the city’s economic diversity. Besides being a regional center for health care, Sioux Falls has succeeded in attracting financial firms, business services consultancies, agribusinesses, and technology startups.

Learn more at or #SiliconCitiesUSA on Twitter. 

Please find more U.S. Chamber Quarterly Spring 2015 articles here.

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