Don’t sleep on the Midwest’s business prowess

It’s home to monster companies and serious brain power.


August 7, 2020

The Economist is my favorite publication. Its special report on the US Midwest was so good I had to write about it. 

I consider myself well-versed in business chatter, but the facts definitely surprised me. In my defense, I have an excuse: I’m Canadian 😂

It’s overlooked, but it’s huge

As our colleague Zack has noted, as of 2018, the Midwest was responsible for ~20% of America’s GDP, but it received only 5% of venture funding.

With a total population of 68m, the 12-state region’s total GDP (~$4 trillion) is larger than either Germany or the UK. 👀

And it’s home to monster companies

Many rank at the top of their sectors in the US:

  • Caterpillar (market cap = $73B) is one of the 6 largest industrial companies. 
  • General Motors ($38B) and Ford ($27B) are the largest non-Elon Musk owned car makers.
  • Procter & Gamble ($329B) is the 2nd-largest consumer defensive firm (after Walmart).
  • UnitedHealth Group ($298B) is the 2nd-largest healthcare company (after Johnson & Johnson).

It’s got serious brain power, too

We’re talking “16 of the country’s 50 top-ranked medical schools, five of the 25 best computer-science ones, and 17 of 63 leading research universities,” The Economist says. 

Big Ten universities pull in annual research funds of $10.6B (more than the combined haul of the Ivy League and California universities).

A 2019 Brookings Institution report argued that money and resources should be spread to new innovation hubs. Six of the report’s top 15 “potential growth centers” were Midwestern:

  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Minneapolis-St.Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • The Chicago metro area
  • Akron, Ohio
  • St. Louis, Missouri

To paraphrase 19th-century newspaperman Horace Greeley: “Go Midwest, young man.”

***

Thank you Steve Case for re-tweeting the brief! 

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