Cushman & Wakefield’s ‘Tech Cities 2.0’ report confirms Chicago as a major tech hub for the U.S.

Cushman & Wakefield’s ‘Tech Cities 2.0’ report confirms Chicago as a major tech hub for the U.S.

Low cost of living relative to other tech markets gives Chicago a leg up

Chicago, October 12, 2018 – Cushman & Wakefield today released Tech Cities 2.0 an annual report that identifies existing and emerging tech centers increasingly driving the North American economy and details their impact on the commercial real estate sector.

Historically a hard goods hub, Chicago has established itself as an important city for technology (see video clip) and an increasingly appealing choice for tech companies and the young talent they are attracting – with companies like Microsoft, Google, Salesforce and others setting up major operations in the City. Further, non-tech companies reliant on strong tech functions are moving to the City of Chicago because of its strong talent pool.

“A confluence of factors such as access to talent, top universities, a relatively low cost of living, and relatively inexpensive real estate costs make Chicago a very appealing city for tech entrepreneurs and for larger, more established tech firms looking to scale,” said James Stein of Cushman & Wakefield Chicago.

37.2% of Chicagoans have a Bachelor’s degree or higher and Millennials, a target workforce for tech companies, make up around 21% of the total population. The city also enjoys a cost of living significantly lower than other tech markets. Nearly 5% of those employed in Chicago are working with tech companies and as of Q2 2018 VC funding of tech reached just north of $1,600 billion. With hot submarkets like River North, Fulton Market, West Loop and the major improvements happening along the river in South Loop, Chicago is undoubtedly poised to draw more attention from the tech industry.

“As tech companies continue to dominate headlines and grow, a key question is how this affects commercial real estate. Building upon our inaugural Tech Cities report from last year, Tech Cities 2.0 offers new data and a further in-depth analysis of the marketplace,” Revathi Greenwood, Cushman & Wakefield’s Americas Head of Research, said.

“Tech is no longer limited to just traditional technology companies – media companies, retailers and even law firms are competing for the same spaces and talent as traditional tech companies. While the result can be seen in nationwide trends, we’ve identified key insights that impact companies across every industry,” Greenwood said.

Ken McCarthy, Cushman & Wakefield’s New York-based Principal Economist and Applied Research Lead for the U.S. said Tech Cities 2.0 demonstrates the profound impact the tech sector has had on commercial real estate in what appears to be one fell swoop but has been building since the financial crisis of 2008.

“Although we expect established markets like Silicon Valley to see continued investment, new tech hubs are emerging across North America, from Provo to Philadelphia, sustaining a period of tech-driven, economic growth unseen since the dot-com boom of the late 1990s.”

The tech industry has changed the way its companies and also those traditionally non-tech approach commercial real estate said Robert Sammons, Cushman & Wakefield’s Senior Director, Northern California Research.

“Both start-ups and big tech companies have recognized they need a footprint in the central cities to keep attracting millennial workers, and as a result, they are taking large chunks of high-rise buildings and trophy assets in dense urban areas – in addition to keeping their sprawling campuses in the suburbs,” Sammons said.

As well, he added that tech companies are driving demand as they continue to hunt for space and grabbing it in certain hot markets when they can find it. “With unemployment at 4.0% or lower in each of these markets, tech companies of all sizes are in a war for talent and must do their utmost to hold on to and recruit employees – and that means the best salaries, the best incentives, the best space and the best location. That last point has generally meant an urban or even suburban location that is mixed-use, walkable, bikeable and near mass transit,” he said.

“The trend for the start-ups and tech companies to occupy large spaces in metropolitan areas is occurring all over North America and especially in the cities our report identifies as ‘Tech is a critical component of the local economy and CRE market,’” Sammons said.

Combining employment, occupations, venture capital investment, and demographics statistics, this year’s list from Tech Cities 2.0 is separated into three major categories:

  • Tech is a critical component of the local economy and CRE market:

o   Austin

o   Boston

o   Provo

o   Raleigh/Durham

o   Salt Lake City

o   San Diego

o   San Francisco

o   Silicon Valley

o   Seattle

o   Washington, DC Metro

  • Tech is a key driver of the local economy and CRE market:

o   Atlanta

o   Dallas/Fort Worth

o   Denver

o   Minneapolis/St. Paul

o   Montreal

o   Portland, OR

o   Toronto

o   Vancouver

  • Tech is important to the local economy and CRE market, but there are other important sectors as well:

o   Baltimore

o   Charlotte

o   Chicago

o   Greater Los Angeles

o   South Florida

o   New York City

o   Philadelphia

Key findings from Tech Cities 2.0 include:

  • In the first of half of last year, 42% of the square footage in the top 100 leases in North America were signed by tech companies.
  • The fastest growing tech employment market since 2010 is Provo, Utah. Though a smaller market than the others on the list, the number of people employed by tech companies increased 64.9%, surpassing the 62.7% increase in San Francisco.
  • Average asking rents in cities like Atlanta, Austin, Seattle, and San Francisco have increased more than 50% since 2010.
  • Property prices are skyrocketing. Among the Top 25, property prices have increased on average by 59%, with the greatest increases happening in Austin, Silicon Valley, and San Francisco.
  • Cities that are targets for venture capital funding are the most important tech cities in North America. Among the Top 25, VC funding grew by an average of $2.0 billion compared to $457 million for the top 101 markets.
  • The top four cities for new construction are all cities where tech is a critical factor in the local real estate market, including: Austin, Raleigh/Durham, Seattle, and San Francisco.

About Cushman & Wakefield

Cushman & Wakefield (NYSE: CWK) is a leading global real estate services firm that delivers exceptional value by putting ideas into action for real estate occupiers and owners. Cushman & Wakefield is among the largest real estate services firms with 48,000 employees in approximately 400 offices and 70 countries. In 2017, the firm had revenue of $6.9 billion across core services of property, facilities and project management, leasing, capital markets, valuation and other services. To learn more, visit www.cushmanwakefield.com or follow @CushWake on Twitter.