The 10 Best Places for Tech Innovation

Looking for the best place to build your high-tech business? Here's what The Milken Institute says in its 2008 State Technology and Science Index.

The states in the best position to succeed in the technology-led information age are (2004 rankings in parentheses):

  1. Massachusetts (1)
  2. Maryland (4)
  3. Colorado (3)
  4. California (2)
  5. Washington (6)
  6. Virginia (5)
  7. Connecticut (10)
  8. Utah (9)
  9. New Hampshire (12)
  10. Rhode Island (11)
If you buy into Richard Florida's argument about the overarching importance of place, this should bode well for the northern edge of what he calls the Bos-Wash corridor (which is centered on New York).

But Massachusetts was also number one four years ago, which has me wondering: just what kind of economy do we get from technology innovation these days? Four of the top 10 states in the Milken survey are in New England. Yet the New England Economic Partnership at the end of May projected that through 2012, New England (which also includes Maine and Vermont) will gain only 177,000 jobs, and output growth will trail the nation overall. What gives here?

Is technology innovation no longer driving job growth? Or is this a sign that Nick Carr, author of "The Big Switch," has it right in the book when he says that high-tech growth may no longer be a source of real job growth? {see my review of "The Big Switch"}

Maybe New England is simply too small to generate a lot of growth. There's plenty of grousing locally, too, that entrepreneurs here don't build big companies anymore -- instead, they sell the ideas to big companies from elsewhere, ceding control. In a flat economic world, maybe that's just the way it grows.