Todd Wasserman

May 31st 2020

The Impact of Technology: How It’s Changing Rural and Suburban America


The impact of technology continues to be felt in our everyday lives, but nowhere is more evident than in our choice in where to live. These days, if you have tech skills, you can work anywhere you want — including from home. That’s good news for people living outside city centers, especially considering that, according to FiveThirtyEight, some of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. are actually more suburban than urban.

According to another FiveThirtyEight article, “The suburbanization of America marches on. Population growth in big cities slowed for the fifth-straight year in 2016, according to new census data, while population growth accelerated in the more sprawling counties that surround them.”

Why are people drawn to the more suburban areas of the country? According to Bloomberg, “Whereas before it was blue collar jobs leaving older, high cost metros, now it will be mid-level managers, back office and other cognitive work where physical proximity to other people is less important.”

The Importance of STEM

If the U.S. continues to buck the global urbanization trend, the impact of technology will likely be a factor. Technologies such as network security, software/web development and cloud integration — to name a few — are changing the landscape of rural and suburban areas across the country. All are prompting new jobs and a focus on education, particularly in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. This goes hand in hand with FiveThirtyEight’s report that “growth in … educated rural areas is accelerating and is at its highest rate in eight years.”

To keep up with the demand for educated workers, STEM after-school programs are gaining popularity in schools, according to Level Up Village. According to U.S. News & World Report, such programs increase students’ interest in the STEM fields.

New Technologies

It shouldn’t be surprising that newer technologies are also migrating to more rural areas and low-density suburbs. These locations offer lower property costs than cities, according to The Atlantic’s CityLab, and are attractive to young workers who want to start families in affordable areas.

Northrop Grumman opened an IT facility in Canonsburg, PA — a suburb of Pittsburgh — in 2000. The site offers software as a service delivery and hosted 24/7/365 support accessible via a virtual private network. For instance, OpenTrac Enterprise is a web-based enterprise resource planning system designed for the manufacturing industry. Business owners can use it to supply and purchase their material.

OpenTrac Enterprise is an advanced tracking solution for precise and rapid inventory administration. The web-based manufacturing and warehousing system tracks the life cycle of inventory and scales from a single warehouse to multiple locations. Using such technologies, OpenTrac users manage intra-company inventories, as well as inter-company, remote 3rd party and customer inventories, from anywhere.

Suburbs Versus Cities

As Stony Brook University finance professor Noah Smith argued in a Bloomberg piece, an area like Redwood City, California, may look like a suburb, but its population density rivals that of an urban area. As he notes, “Today’s fast-growing suburb is tomorrow’s urban area. In other words, the great urban revival might not be ending, it might just be relocating.”