cover image Silicon Heartland: Transforming the Midwest from Rust Belt to Tech Belt

Silicon Heartland: Transforming the Midwest from Rust Belt to Tech Belt

Rebecca A. Fannin. Imagine, $28 (240p) ISBN 978-1-62354-556-7

Journalist Fannin (Tech Titans of China) delivers a spirited account of her road trip through the Midwest to survey the region’s tech-driven revitalization. The Rust Belt, she contends, “is making a comeback” in the form of a burgeoning tech industry that has benefited from a recent increase in remote workers who have moved inland from coastal cities, bringing experience and funding with them. Fannin tells the stories of those helping to lead the tech boom, such as a young woman who makes eyeglass frames out of recycled water bottles in Flint, Mich., and a man in Indianapolis who runs a startup that develops sales software for midsize companies. Reporting on the financing of the tech boom, she notes that investors are becoming more willing to fund projects outside Silicon Valley and that tech bigwigs are contributing money to scholarships at Rust Belt schools that boost local talent. To fully capitalize on this economic transformation, she calls for “bolder government plans, increased private capital funding, and a shift to Silicon Valley–type visionary thinking,” in addition to retraining blue-collar workers for tech jobs. As an Ohio native, Fannin’s deep empathy for Midwesterners is palpable, and the frank look at the Rust Belt’s resilience inspires while being realistic about the work ahead. This short but meaty travelogue packs a punch. (Mar.)