By Rebecca A. Fannin
Imagine Publishing / Penguin Random House
Change is sweeping across the American heartland. For too long ignored as "flyover country," the once-mighty Midwest is experiencing a quiet but compelling revolution powered by savvy venture capital, high-tech innovation, entrepreneurial boldness, and good old American moxie. What has been known as the Rust Belt is now developing the shine of a tech belt. The former pinnacle of the US economy is making a comeback, which bodes well not only for the heartland but for our economy and morale nationwide.
Rebecca A. Fannin explored this twenty-first century transformation from the inside. And she did it the old-fashioned way -by putting hard miles on her Honda Element and visiting women and men from Flint, Michigan, to Huntington, West Virginia, who are planning, financing, and building this latest version of the American Dream. A heartlander herself, Fannin brings readers on an investigative tour that starts in her hometown of Lancaster, Ohio, and takes in six states, dozens of cities, and hundreds of enterprises.
Silicon Heartland tells the story of a comeback journey -and also personal stories of some of the remarkable people Rebecca met who are restoring the region's vibrancy and prosperity with a social and economic turnaround that is diverse, contemporary, and solidly realized.
What Rebecca discovered on the way -about America, about her family, about herself - is surprising and inspiring and makes her book timely documentation about a reviving economy and also a moving reminder of the importance of family and heritage.
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“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. Silicon Heartland underscores how my home state of West Virginia – and other Appalachian locations – are progressing by investing in entrepreneurship.”
— John Chambers, Founder and CEO of JC2 Ventures, and former Executive Chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems
As an investor and venture capitalist who moved to Austin, Texas several years ago, I find Rebecca Fannin’s compassionate and rigorous analysis of entrepreneurship a must-read. She asks and answers so many of the right questions: how we got here, where we’re going, and what needs to happen to revitalize communities and democratize innovation. This will be an indispensable book for founders, investors, and change-makers.
— Jim Breyer, Founder & CEO, Breyer Capital
“In Silicon Heartland, Fannin details the technology transformation underway in our heartland -- masterfully weaving together years of research and knowledge with personal stories from people across America. It's a book that inspires hope for our future."
— Ro Khanna, author of Dignity in a Digital Age
“Silicon Heartland, Rebecca Fannin’s uplifting journey into America’s all-too-often overlooked Midwest – where she, herself, grew up – is a compelling counter-narrative to the depiction of the region as being in the grip of post-industrial decline. This is the untold story of the Rust Belt rising, amid a wave of optimism, innovation and old-fashioned grit.”
— Maëlle Gavet, CEO of Techstars and author of Trampled by Unicorns
Silicon Heartland shines the light on exciting examples and best practices that are leveling the playing field of opportunity and unleashing new opportunity. This book is 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 Marshall University and former Chairman and CEO, Intuit
“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
“Silicon Heartland provides an almost perfect sequel to Ms. Fannin’s must-read Tech Titans of China. Now she brings the focus back to our nation's shores, but rather than detail the assumed decay of American greatness, she instead finds hope. The green-shoots of a potentially innovative and prosperous future have been planted for generations to come. This book provides a much-needed boost of optimism at a time when it’s vitally needed."
— Chris Fenton, author, Feeding the Dragon and Film Producer
In her book Silicon Heartland, journalist Rebecca Fannin journeys back to her home in the Midwest to explore how cities and states are working to reinvent local economies. Her unique perspective will help readers understand the entrepreneurial communities that are working to turn cities between the coasts into promising innovation hubs.
— Steve Case, co-founder of AOL and Revolution and author of The Rise of the Rest
“Finally…someone gets it. The Rustbelt of the Midwest is transitioning to the Tech Belt of the heartland and author/journalist Rebecca A. Fannin tells that story in an engaging and sometimes personal manner. She took time to explore this flyover country to discover an emerging new energy and entrepreneurial spirit that is replacing regional depression. She tells the story of Midwestern rebirth that everyone else has ignored and she does so with the perspective of an experienced journalist. Her writing is crisp and sharp, and her reporting is thorough and in-depth.”
— Tom Hodson, Director Emeritus of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and WOUB Public Media
“Silicon Heartland tells stories that should be told. With the move to onshoring, perhaps real dollars will continue to flow - and even increase - across the belt(s). I hope so. Lots of know-how and talent there. Less reason to move elsewhere in this increasingly un-tethered world, and current societal and technological waves benefit from more open spaces and lower costs.”
— James D. Robinson, Founder & General Partner, RRE Ventures
“Few journalists I know have truly been ‘out there’ deeply connecting with their subject like Rebecca. Her family’s personal history in the Midwest allows her to truly hear what’s happening.”
— Brian Cohen, Chairman, Science Literacy Foundation/ Founding Partner, New York Venture Partners/ Chairman Emeritus, New York Angels
“Hop into author Rebecca Fannin’s vintage Honda as she cruises through “flyover country,” reporting on what was long considered the rusted remains of America’s industrial might. Except she finds something quite different: Silicon Valley-style entrepreneurship built on traditional Midwestern values of honesty, hard work, and community. Without glossing over the challenges, Ms. Fannin provides an insightful look into the rebirth of cities and a region that launched American leadership in the global economy.”
— Dan Schwartz, Publisher, Asian Venture Capital Journal (1993-2008) and author, The Future of Finance
“Silicon Heartland is a fascinating and inspiring read. Only Rebecca Fannin, with her venture background, China experience, and heartland roots, could uncover the amazing tech revolution occurring in the middle of America. Rebecca shines a light on how the next generation will transform the region by taking a page out of the Silicon Valley playbook.”
— David Kaufman, Director of Global Strategies, Nixon Peabody
“Silicon Heartland shows how scrappy innovators are remaking the US economy and breathing life back into Rust Belt cities and impoverished rural communities. Fannin does a fantastic job providing both the data and case studies on how a new wave of entrepreneurs and technology are transforming America's overlooked and under-funded regions.”
— Steve Hoffman, Chairman and CEO, Founders Space