The Most Inventive Towns in America

Cities have the economic might to revitalize itself with job growth, and that comes from companies with new high-growth services and products. The Wall Street Journal’s The Most Inventive Towns in America** looks at which cities are taking the lead in attracting these business growth catalysts based on patents.

First, the most inventive towns overall, in order: San Jose CA, Sunnyvale CA, Austin TX, Palo Alto CA (pictured), Fremont CA, San Diego CA, Cupertino CA, Boise ID, Mountain View CA, Santa Clara CA, Houston TX, San Francisco CA, Portland OR, Seattle WA, Los Altos CA, Rochester NY, Plano TX, Saratoga CA, Menlo Park CA, New York NY.

No surprise – half of them are in Silicon Valley, though nearly all of these places have a multitude of cooltown qualities.

However, there’s hope for small cities! Here’s the top 20 list of those with the most patents by individuals or small companies:

1. Las Vegas NV – Casino spinoffs, and more $ than they know what to do with
2. Indianapolis IN – Biotech spinoffs
3. Gaithersburg MD – High-tech corridor
4. Sandy UT – Low rent, entrepreneurial culture
5. Fairfax VA – George Mason University
6. Winchester MA – Near MIT
7. Corona CA – Biotech spinoffs
8. Grand Rapids MI – Biomedical spinoffs
9. Bloomfield Hills MI – Auto industry spinoffs
10. Evanston IL – Northwestern University
11. Palm Harbor FL – Sensor Systems spinoffs
12. Annapolis MD – Navy, telecom engineers
13. Oklahoma City OK – OK Medical Research Foundation spinoffs
14. Mercer Island WA – Near Microsoft
15. Orefield PA – Lehigh University, Agere Systems spinoffs
16. Bend OR – Sixth-fastest growing metro area in the U.S.
17. Tigard OR – Low rents/taxes near Nike
18. Walnut CA – Asian immigrants
19. Leawood, KS – $100K avg. income
20. St. Charles, MO – Boeing layoffs

Not an inspired list for livability though. The pattern here is to have at least one major company and one major university, and leverage the heck out of it. But of course, this won’t happen unless the quality-of-life-demading creatives that start these spinoff companies aren’t compelled to live there. These cities are blessed with an economic head start, but until they seriously beef up their livability (and build compelling places for them to meet like this courtyard in downtown Palo Alto), they’ll never graduate to the true Top 20 list.

*Temporary link provided by Planetizen

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