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MINNESOTA THE MIDWEST TECH HUB

Updated: Jun 15, 2018

Recently Blacks in Technology (BIT) announced the Inaugural BIT Conference will be in Minneapolis, MN October 11-13, 2018. Some may be wondering why Minneapolis? Could it be MN is becoming a hotbed for events hosting super bowl 52 this past February and hosting the X Games in July of 2018 or is it something else? Minnesota has been receiving a lot of shine in recent years for its tech scene.

In fact, Minnesota has a rich history as a tech hub dating back to the 1950’s with corporations such as IBM establishing a presence in Rochester, Minnesota and both Control Data Corporation and Cray Supercomputer launching out of Minnesota in the 60's and 70's. Minnesota is largely a tech hub due to its pool of technical talent and an all-around great place to live despite the sometimes-harsh winters.

The Minnesota tech market consists of a combination of startups, service providers, and major corporations such as Target, 3M, Best Buy, Medtronic, UnitedHealth Group, Polaris, Boston Scientific, Sleep Number, Ameriprise, U.S. Bankcorp, and Merrill Corporation to name a few. Some tech giants also have healthy footprints in Minnesota such as Microsoft with 425+ local employee's, Amazon with 250+ local employees, Accenture with 1,600+, and IBM with 2,000+ local employees. In 2015 Minnesota landed on lists for Dice and Forbes as the #1 fastest growing state with tech jobs:

The Fastest-Growing States for Tech Jobs In 2015 by Forbes:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2015/08/18/the-fastest-growing-states-for-tech-jobs-in-2015

In 2015 Minnesota landed #1 on Dice.com’s Fastest-Growing States for Tech Jobs:

http://media.dice.com/report/august-2015-fastest-growing-states-for-tech-jobs

Minnesota has a solid pool of established notable software, cloud, and tech companies such as: Edmentum, Ceridian, Code 42, JAMF Software, SPS Commerce, Stratasys, Digital River, Compellent (Dell), and Rimage.

In addition to the established tech startups, Minnesota has a surging startup scene with companies such as: Bite Squad, Upsie, Aftercode, Leadpages, Field Nation, Sports Engine and more.

The North Loop and Northeast Minneapolis are quickly becoming the go-to areas for tech startup offices, co-working spaces, and incubators.

Minnesota also has a thriving community-based tech scene in general with some of the country's largest user groups and turnout for tech events. Some notable tech events and user groups are:

DevOpsDays Minneapolis is an annual event held in Minnesota that attracts a large crowd and speakers from all over! More about this event here: https://www.devopsdays.org/events/2018-minneapolis/welcome

MN SQL Saturday is an annual event that has been around for some time. This event typically attracts 450+ attendees with many MVP’s coming out to present. http://www.sqlsaturday.com/557/EventHome.aspx

SharePoint Saturday Twin Cities is the biggest one in the US with attendance often reaching 800+. More about this event here: www.spstc.com

Midwest Management Summit (MMS) is another annual event held at the Radisson Blue Mall of America and has sold out every year.  Experts and attendee’s come from all over the US and the world to be a part of this magical event around Microsoft management technologies on-premises and cloud. More about this event here: https://mmsmoa.com.

There are several events throughout the year that support and promote tech entrepreneurship. These events are well attended, and many startups have been launched out of these. A few of these events are:

Minnedemo is a demo day for real, working technology products made in Minnesota.

MN Cup is a startup competition and hub to connect Minnesota’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Minnebar is an annual BarCamp conference where developers, designers, entrepreneurs, investors, and more converge to learn the latest in the tech world.

MN has many Incubators, Accelerators, and organizations that support tech and startups. There are too many to name here, but a few notables are: Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA), TechStars Retail, Gener8tor, and Treehouse Health.

Also, Amazon, Microsoft Azure, Service Now, DevOps MSP, IoT and many other user groups are well organized and well attended monthly with attendee numbers often into the hundreds.  Let's look at a few more notable things from the MN tech scene.

Last but not least Minnesota has its own BIT chapter. BIT MSP was started for POC in Twin Cities tech to share experiences and support each other through events, community, media, mentorship, and stewardship. BIT MSP has a Rockstar leadership team including Antoinette Smith (Developer), Sharon Kennedy Vickers (CIO), and David Edgerton (ITS Manager). BIT MSP is a thriving chapter meeting monthly and has 691 members. The Minnesota BIT chapter can be found here: https://www.meetup.com/Twin-Cities-Black-Software-Technology-Meetup and here: http://www.bitmsp.com.

The go-to website for all Minnesota tech news is Tech{dot}MN http://tech.mn. Tech{dot}MN is the go-to for all things MN techs such as events, user groups, startup and other tech news. Minnesota is also home to 24 Microsoft MVP’s out of 4,000 worldwide.

Minnesota also has a push of diversity and inclusion in the tech sector with many people of color (POC) making moves in the corporate, government, startup, and tech giant (Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, Accenture) spaces. Here are some of the POC influencers in the MN Tech Scene:

  • Sharon Kennedy Vickers (CIO City of Saint Paul)

  • Clarence Bethea (Tech Entrepreneur & Founder/CEO of Upsie)

  • Lanice Sims (Tech scene influencer & Business Development Representative at GitLab)

  • Michael Wulf (COO: BDPA, IT Architect MN State Colleges &Universities)

  • Alex Rodriguez (Tech entrepreneur & founder of Workmand)

  • Samantha Grumdahl (DevopsDays Minneapolis organizer & network and systems administrator UofM)

  • Thompson Aderkomi (Tech entrepreneur & founder of Nice Healthcare)

One of the organizations helping to drive diversity and inclusion is MN Tech Diversity by convincing other organizations to take the Minnesota Technology Diversity Pledge. Check them out here: https://mntechdiversity.com

For more information about the tech scene in Minnesota it is recommended to:

After considering the many aspects of the Minnesota tech scene called out in this article, it’s no wonder BIT decided to host the first ever conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

About the author:

Steve Buchanan is a Group Manager – Cloud Transformation/DevOps with Accenture/Avanade, a 6-time Microsoft MVP, and author of five technical books focused on cloud and data center management. In his 18+ years as an IT professional, Steve has held positions ranging from infrastructure architect to IT manager.

Steve has been featured on the “25 ITSM Experts to Watch in 2017” list and as an “IT Unity Community Champ”. He leads the MN Azure user group and has presented at several technical conferences including MMS, Microsoft Ignite, and OSCON.

Steve is currently focused on transforming the position of IT into a strategic partner of the business and driver of digital transformation through ITSM, DevOps, and CloudOps. He stays active in the technical community and enjoys blogging about his adventures in the world of IT at www.buchatech.com.




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