North Texas Daily

Denton gains notoriety for hi-tech culture

Denton gains notoriety for hi-tech culture

Denton gains notoriety for hi-tech culture
March 20
02:21 2014

Trent Johnson // Features Editor

When the name Denton gets injected in conversation, various thoughts may rush to the forefront of brains among the conversers.

“Denton is a college town.”

“Denton has a diverse culture.”

“Denton is a music haven.”

While the three above are common answers, in the past few months Denton has added another feather in its proverbial cap, as the city was named one of the U.S.’s top tech hot spots.

Ranked number six by the Atlantic, Denton County was ranked above more notable locations such as New York County, home of New York City, plus numerous others.

Though the county, and city, have made tremendous improvements in the high-tech industry, most of the success has been achieved through coincidence as Denton officials have directed the majority of attention on other sectors.

While Denton planners have not listed technology-based companies as priority, city councilman Kevin Roden is the outlier. Whether organizing meetings, lobbying with the city or making waves on Twitter, he has been steadfast in his belief in the importance of the tech industry.

“Ever since I got on council this has been a major priority for me,” Roden said. “Let’s turn in this direction. I hear from college grads all the time ‘I’d love to stay in Denton, I just can’t find a job.’ This is a quick way to turn in this direction.”

Roden has been critical of the city’s lack of urgency, even writing an article on his website pleading with Denton officials to get behind the thriving market.

“Tech is the thing you want to be on top of,” Roden said. “If you’ve got the ingredients to get ahead, why is that not a major goal?”

The credit for the city’s newfound notoriety instead goes to residents and the Denton’s overall culture, Roden said.

“While we have a lot of great things happening, it’s in no thanks to the city, no thanks to this great forward thinking,” Roden said. “We just happen to have the kind of city that attracts that kind of person.”

UNT information technology expert and business professor Chang Koh was baffled by Denton’s appearance in the rankings but commented on the positives Denton’s appearance could bring.

“I don’t think it changes anything significantly right away, but it’s an excellent marketing tool,” Koh said. “The economic condition here is relatively stellar and this makes it even better.”

With the lack of big name companies residing in town, the driving factor of the county’s rise through the ranks is probably the smaller to mid-sized companies. These smaller businesses are usually less focused on money and produce more cutting-edge products, Koh said.

One of the smaller companies is Denton’s lone game company Jovian Minds. Founder and CEO Mike Christian was also caught off guard by the ranking because the technology companies form an almost underground scene. But he sees it improving.

“Software-wise, there’s a limited number of companies that I know about,” Christian said. “I think it will grow, with the universities and advanced technologies [here], they’re churning out a nice supply of potential employees.”

Roden agrees the city is oozing with potential that he believes can be realized with the right marketing plan and the right goals. Following the paths of technology stalwarts like Silicon Valley is dangerous, he said, but creating a plan different and exclusive to Denton may soon be a realization.

“If we can get out in front and be the leader in the nation in terms of coming up with a new model, I think that would be really great. It would be very ‘Denton’ of us,” Roden said. “We want to create such a vibrant entrepreneurial climate that people are crazy drifting to Denton to try and be a part of the scene we have here.”

Feature photo: UNT information technology expert and business professor Chang Kah expresses his surprise at Denton being listed as a haven for technology. Denton County was ranked in the top ten in the Atlantic’s list of America’s hottest tech spot. Photo by Trent Johnson / Features Editor 

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