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Dear Midwest: Stop trying to compete with Silicon Valley

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James Hammond

When it comes to launching the next on-demand, social, consumer-focused app — your Facebooks, Instagrams, and Snapchats of the world — Silicon Valley has no equal.

But mankind cannot live on social media alone, and no one is more familiar with that truth than those of us in the Midwest, where technology is less about sharing pictures of your lunch and more about growing the very ingredients on your plate.While the Valley boasts more than 300 venture capitalists and, in 2015, nearly 800 companies received funding to the tune of more than $21 billion, the path forward for the burgeoning Midwest tech scene is not to directly compete with Silicon Valley.

Rather, we need to focus on our own strengths — deep subject expertise in areas of agriculture, farming, animal health, to name a few — and compete where the Valley and coasts simply cannot.

Ready pools of talent: Attracted by a low cost of living and a desire to build something new close to home, workers — many of them graduates from Midwestern universities — gravitate toward tech companies that in turn offer unique cultural benefits.

Research facilities to provide support: The Midwest boasts a high number of universities with cutting-edge research facilities to foster innovation and provide necessary idea-support to entrepreneurs.

Millennial-friendliness: Younger talent oftentimes cannot afford to buy or rent in one of the major tech hubs.

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James Hammond
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