Detroit and Pittsburgh Selected Among JLL’s Top High-Tech Hubs [REPORT]

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By: Robert Kramp, Vice President and Director of Research, JLL 

In the latest High-Technology Office Outlook, JLL researchers ranked the top 34 high-tech markets in the U.S. Researchers selected cities based on traditional metrics, such as wage growth, intellectual capital, and venture funding—as well as nontraditional metrics, like amenities.

It’s no surprise to see cities like Boston, New York, and Silicon Valley on the list. But, this year, JLL was able to uncover several new emerging tech frontiers—including Detroit.

What’s Happening in High-Tech?

The high-tech industry has played a starring role in the office recovery. Nearly 22 percent of the 65.4 million square feet currently under construction in the United States is in tech-focused markets. And, the industry continues to drive job creation. At the end of July, there were an astounding 3.3 million high-tech positions.

At the center of market recovery, the high-tech industry has—in the process—revolutionized the design of the modern office space. From JLL’s report: 

“Never before has an industry single-handedly shaped the way we work together and how we configure space more than the high-tech industry. This has had broad implications on location choice, investment strategies, and market performance.”

Location, in particular, is key for high-tech success. As companies compete for talent, they look beyond traditional real estate in the hopes of creating a certain lifestyle for employees. Surprisingly, popular high-tech markets aren’t always urban. JLL research found that most high-tech hubs offer a mix of urban and suburban qualities. The suburbs are not dead. In fact, the high-tech industry is bringing more opportunity to markets outside of downtown areas. (See page 14 of the report for details.)

With ongoing innovation, JLL expects the upturn in high-tech to continue throughout 2014.

Detroit & Pittsburgh Make the Cut 

In our region, both Detroit and Pittsburgh made JLL’s list of high-tech hubs. Detroit was given a market score of 28.5, while Pittsburgh was graded at 35.7. According to the report, “This score is not a ranking per se, but it does quantify market position relative to the others based on employment growth, high-tech office employment concentration, market dynamism, innovation, and investment trends.”


When you think high-tech, you might not think Detroit. But, you’d be wrong.

JLL reported more than 48,000 jobs in high-tech industries in Detroit, and 66,000 square feet currently under construction. Detroit is among JLL’s up-and-coming, new tech frontiers.

Notoriously deemed ‘motor city,’ the automotive industry is one key reason for Detroit’s growing prominence in tech. Tech professionals continue to innovate the future of automotive, with recent advancements like hybrid vehicles and self-driving cars. JLL said that “even Google is positioning itself to become a player in the automotive industry.”

But, not all tech companies in Detroit are focused on automotive. Among Detroit’s most famous tenants are Compuware Corporation and, more recently, Amazon, Twitter and Google. Check out Detroit’s features and amenities from the report (above right).

Pittsburgh is also an emerging leader in tech.  

Slightly behind Detroit when it comes to tech employment (nearly 29,000 employees), the market in Pittsburgh in still maturing. Most local tech jobs are in Computer Systems Design & Related Services (44 percent), but the employment concentration includes a variety of tech related occupations. And, with Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh, there is certainly no shortage of localized talent. Check out the chart below.

Ultimately, we foresee ongoing growth with 1.8 million square feet currently under construction in Pittsburgh.


Want to check out more findings? Download JLL’s full High Technology Office Outlook for more on key findings, and local market reports. Contact me for more information at


About the Author

robert_krampAs Vice President and Director in the Midwest and Great Lakes Region at Jones Lang LaSalle, Robert has experience in the industrial, retail, multifamily and land sectors. Read up on Robert’s experience or connect with him on LinkedIn.