Indian Immigration and the Silicon Valley of the East

In the early 1980s, there wasn't much out west of Washington, D.C., between Langley and the airport except for trees, grass and the occasional lonely office building. Then in 1983, Steve Case helped found the company that would become AOL, and the Virginia Department of Transportation started laying pavement for what would become the Dulles Toll Road.

The Road and the Software Company doesn't sound like a terribly compelling book. But together, they created something terribly compelling. Thirty years later, northern Virginia has become something like the Silicon Valley of the East for IT consulting firms, and the Dulles Toll Road is the jugular vein between the government and the techy suburbs.

It's impossible to snoop around the Dulles "corridor," as I did for a reporting gig last month, and not be struck by the Indian immigrant presence and the incredible impact it's had on the area's tech scene. The number of Indians in Loudoun County alone has increased by a factor of fifty in the last two decades. Today, the Washington Post has Census numbers confirming that the explosion of the Indian population in northern Virginia:

Indians are flocking to Loudoun and Fairfax counties and have become the largest and fastest-growing group of Asians in the area. Indians are the latest wave of Asians transforming the region, having leapfrogged over Koreans a decade ago. For the first time, they make up the biggest group of Asians in Virginia, largely because they have moved to the Washington suburbs. With their high levels of education and income, Indians are pushing up those averages for the entire region.

Many have been drawn to Loudoun County, near the high-tech corridor around Dulles International Airport. As recently as 1990, Loudoun had fewer than 400 Indian residents. The number multiplied to about 2,300 in 2000. By the latest census, their ranks had soared to almost 20,000.

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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