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Mobile Computing, High Speed Internet and Good Transportation is the Answer for the Heartland

There was an interesting article by Bill Kauffman in the Wall Street Journal today (October 20, 2009) in the Bookshelf section called Where Home Is, The Heart Isn’t. It talks about the book Hollowing Out the Middle by husband and wife sociologists Patrick J. Carr and Maria J. Kefalas that describes a trend where young people of intellect and ambition leave the middle of America for the coastlines. This migration has devastating effects on the middle of America according to the authors.

The sharpest insight in the book according to Kauffman is that “small towns play an unwitting role in their own decline” by promoting the idea that fulfilling one’s dream means one must leave home for the big city lights along the shores.

I live in Boise, Idaho. A small town in the high desert at the base of the mountains far from any oceans. Mobile computing, high speed Internet and a nice airport has made this a great base to raise my family and develop a high tech career. I travel all over North America, Europe and even Australia from here. Hewlett Packard, Micron, Microsoft and Sybase have all established a presence here.

I propose that small cities or towns, far from the big city lights of the coast, can often provide a higher quality life, a higher standard of living and more options to travel and learn about the world. Why? The cost of living is often a fraction of what living in a large coastal city requires and you are left with more disposable income.

Let me pause here to say I love the coasts. I love traveling to San Francisco, Boston and New York City and other great cities. We travel to the coast often on business and as a family on relatively low cost airline tickets. We would be missing many wonderful experiences and sites if we never visited these locations. However, I must say it feels good to return home to the mountains and the blue turf in Boise.

Small towns in middle America must understand that mobile computing and high speed Internet have changed everything. Entrepreneurs can choose nearly any place in America to run national and international businesses. I am continually impressed by how many people I meet that work at large multi-national companies and live and work from home offices in Boise. The flights leaving the Boise airport are full of highly educated people working from home offices and traveling to see customers and attend company meetings around the USA and globally.

Today, “small” town should refer to the population size, not a frame of mind. I see Boise, Idaho (this could also be many places in India or other regions of the world) as a place I live and raise a family, but the world is my workplace thanks to mobile computing, high speed internet and a great little airport.

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