4 Midwest tech hubs are among nation’s top 10 most ‘distressed’ communities: report


Midwest cities Cleveland, Detroit, Toledo, and Milwaukee have more in common besides the fact that they are all up-and-coming tech hubs.

According to the Economic Innovation Group’s (EIG) Distressed Community Index for 2017, these four tech hubs were also listed in the top 10 most distressed large cities in the United States.

midwest distressed cities

Data provided by EIG

The report analyzed and ranked the cities based on seven criteria:

1) No high school diploma
2) Housing vacancy rate
3) Adults not working
4) Poverty rate
5) Median income ratio

6) Change in employment
7) Change in business establishments

In its analysis, the EIG found that in the Midwest as a whole, “an astonishing 63 percent of majority-minority zip codes—most of them urban—are distressed, signaling that economic and racial segregation still coincide to an alarming extent in that region.”

Moreover, in a survey from Gallup, it was found that Americans in poverty — many of whom would fall under the EIG’s categorization of “distressed” — were twice as likely to experience depression than those not in poverty.

These statistics highlight the poignant contrast between the Midwest’s reputation as the new Silicon Valley and its distressed reality.

However, perhaps ironically, other evidence suggests that entrepreneurs and active participants within the booming tech scene are also prone to higher rates of depression — a link thoroughly studied and demonstrated by Dr. Michael A. Freeman of the UC San Francisco School of Medicine.

Christopher Adams, Co-founder and CEO of anti-anxiety supplement Levium, experienced this battle personally and used it as motivation to launch his newest company which helps you reduce stress and anxiety using all natural ingredients.

“Unforgiving, high stress environments tend to drastically elevate the levels of anxiety we experience. During my time as a tech founder I experienced this profoundly at a personal level and also saw it far too frequently in others whose lives were essentially taken over by anxiety,” he wrote.

It really is no surprise that entrepreneurs tend to have higher rates of depression. In an article from The Atlantic titled “Tech Has a Depression Problem,” author Roni Jacobson writes, “Stress, uncertainty, youth and isolation—the virtual cornerstones of today’s startup—have all been shown to increase likelihood of developing the disorder.”

Seeing as how tech also faces a challenging problem with depression, it appears that the existing problem in the Midwest could be heavily exacerbated as the region’s tech and startup ecosystem continues to expand.

It will be interesting to see how entrepreneurs in the region will work to counteract this imminent concern moving forward. To counteract this problem, startups in the Midwest could begin to focus on developing technology that helps with depression, or turn to natural solutions like Levium.

Either way, something must be done to first solve the issue of depression, and later prevent the region’s entrepreneurial momentum from being derailed.

Zac Laval

An explorer of the ambiguous and the uncertain, Zac is driven by technology's role in shaping the future.

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