Silicon Heartland: Transforming the Midwest from Rust Belt to Tech Belt (Hardcover)
Chronicling her return to America's heartland, CNBC contributor Rebecca A. Fannin provides an optimistic and engaging look at the current entrepreneurial comeback happening in the Midwest, documenting its transformation from Rust Belt to Tech Belt.
The American Midwest was once a proud bastion of good-paying jobs and middle-class life. Recently it has come to evoke bleakness: job loss, opiate addiction, despair. But without fanfare, a pivotal movement has grown, quietly transforming the heartland into a high-tech hub.
In Silicon Heartland, tech journalist Rebecca A. Fannin returns to her hometown region to report on how tech ecosystems—of entrepreneurial talent, venture capital, accelerators, incubators, universities, and R&D—are retooling midsized heartland cities and Appalachian towns. Remote regions that were nearly forgotten when the money and power shifted to Silicon Valley—and to China—are being rebooted and reenergized like never before. This movement of tech startups burgeoning in Middle America bodes well not only for leading the region to greater heights, but also for boosting our economy and morale nationwide.
Structured around Fannin’s road trip across Middle America, her stories and interviews with venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and business from the Midwest make for a personal yet comprehensive look at the economic rebirth of a region that has been overlooked and underestimated for far too long. Highlighting the successes and efforts that continue to surprise coastal elites, Fannin introduces the resourceful people and the behind-the-scene stories that are reinventing the American Midwest.
“No place or company is immune from getting disrupted—and Silicon Valley is no different. In Rebecca’s new book, Silicon Heartland, she explores the tech innovation frontier emerging in states that were once centers of commerce but were left behind when they didn’t adapt to new technologies.” — John Chambers, founder and CEO of JC2 Ventures, and former executive chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems
“From an author with America’s heartland in her blood and a keen observer of global innovation, this book is a tremendous resource to help communities across the country tap into their entrepreneurial roots and reinvent themselves.” — Greg Becker, president and CEO of SVB and graduate of Indiana University
"An indispensable book for founders, investors, and change-makers."—Jim Breyer, founder and CEO, Breyer Capital
"A book that inspires hope for our future."— Ro Khanna, author of Dignity in a Digital Age
"An uplifting journey into America’s all-too-often overlooked Midwest…the untold story of the Rust Belt rising."— Maëlle Gavet, CEO of Techstars and author of Trampled by Unicorns
"A must-read for anyone who believes that entrepreneurial success is only possible on the coasts. The Silicon Heartland welcomes you!"—Brad D. Smith, president of Marshall University and former chairman and CEO of Intuit
"[A] much-needed boost of optimism at a time when it’s vitally needed." — Chris Fenton, author, Feeding the Dragon
"An insightful look into the rebirth of cities and a region that launched American leadership in the global economy."— Dan Schwartz, author of The Future of Finance: How Private Equity and Venture Capital Will Shape the Global Economy
"Only Rebecca Fannin, with her venture background, China experience, and heartland roots, could uncover the amazing tech revolution occurring in the middle of America."— David Kaufman, director of global strategies, Nixon Peabody
About the Author
Rebecca A. Fannin is a journalist, author, and media entrepreneur who grew up in the Ohio heartland town of Lancaster. After graduating from Ohio University and working at Dayton’s morning newspaper, she left the Appalachian foothills for new horizons in New York City and Silicon Valley, became a contributor for CNBC, and wrote for Forbes and Harvard Business Review. Her research and writing about China’s entrepreneurial boom led to three books that have been published in multiple languages: Silicon Dragon, Startup Asia, and Tech Titans of China.
In 2010, she launched the media and events platform Silicon Dragon Ventures, focused on startup investment.Rebecca’s forward-looking books launched her as a commentator and public speaker. A guest on BBC, Bloomberg, Fox News, and NPR, and a quoted expert in the New York Times, she also has spoken at the Brookings Institution, Asia Society, and many universities, including Harvard, Yale, and Oxford. Rebecca divides her time between San Francisco and New York City and often journeys home to Ohio.
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.