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The cities I mentioned (St Louis, Minneapolis, Raleigh) and comparable cities like Austin/Columbus etc are not podunk small towns. They are all major metros that are host to big universities and local colleges and as such producing a large amount of talent. I don't disagree that many devs from these cities move on to bigger cities, but I'd wager that a large majority of college grads from universities in these cities stay there and work for local companies (and them staying there is not a reflection on their talent level but more about the ties to the local community).

Even if I concede to your assertion that a vast majority of the top 10-20% of developers from these cities leave for the big tech centers- most startups are not doing the kind of work that requires their tech team to be made up of "rockstar" top 10-20% developers.

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