"But, if you want to do something big in the tech sector, you absolutely must be in SV for the connections, money, talent, etc."
Really? You "absolutely must" be in SV? Seems like Groupon, Foursquare, Groupme, Bitly, Grubhub, Gawker, Gilt, Kickstarter, Amazon, Tumblr etc etc etc are doing just fine not in SV.
Great companies can be started in many places. A critical mass is helpful, as is money. You can get money from anywhere. I'm from Pittsburgh. A company there (Dynamics) just raised a $35 million series B. They are doing great on "connections, money, talent, etc" in Pittsburgh. Several of your YC batchmates will leave SV for other places. They will be just fine on all those things too. You might not have been fine in NC, but there are many places you would be able to raise money, find talent, etc. We ended up rejecting some VC's that wanted us to be in Cali but ended up with terms we liked from investors we like. (We're in Chicago) I have occasionally given thought to going back to SF/SV but for our business there wouldn't be any impact other than we'd have to pay higher salaries and rent.
Startups are pretty dicey. I don't know what a founder's chances are, but I'm pretty sure that they are better in the Valley. Depending on your market, your personal network, etc., they might not be THAT much better... But it's pretty hard to argue that, on average, the Valley doesn't help your chances in StartupLand.
Sidebar: Of course, if you're going to go for a different type of startup than YC's particular brand, you can do it from anywhere (central Japan, for instance). The article refers to such startups as a "lifestyle businesses". I find this terminology hilarious considering the most prominent example of a "lifestyle business" in our field has funded a racecar build by advanced beings for one of its founders.
"you should be in the valley if you want big VC relatively straightforward and uncontroversial."
The guy just gave you scores of examples of companies not in the valley that raised big VC - controversy