New in Town: On Addressing Gentrification Within the Tech Industry

Erica Dee Fox

You move to a new town to take a well-paying programming job. You have two choices: you can work with your new community, to help everyone within it grow – or you can work against it, making it unaffordable for anyone who makes less than you. This talk will help you make an informed decision. Using examples from the American Midwest, “New in Town” focuses on how we in the tech industry can make the tech industry a safer space for those outside of it.

Former manufacturing apexes throughout the Rust Belt, like Chicago and Detroit, now represent live-action tales of two cities: affluent white-collar tech workers on one side of town, and high-density crime and poverty on another. There is also the other side of gentrification: the places people have left. While many larger cities are prospering as a result of tech industry growth, many communities are suffering economic loss, “brain drain,” and social collapse as people leave for bigger and better things.

When we take jobs in new towns, we have not only a social but also an economic responsibility to maintain equity, affordability, and quality-of-life for the residents of our communities. This talk will explain how all of us can do just that.


Erica Dee Fox is a PHP developer for Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research in Muncie, Indiana. Erica has been programming websites for fun for most of her life, and started programming professionally in 2015. She believes in the web as the second great equalizer between socioeconomic classes and regional variants.

Outside of programming, Erica is passionate about making life in the Rust Belt good for everyone in the Rust Belt. This year, her family has spent several weeks rehabbing an abandoned structure and turning it into a community space. They plan to offer free pregnancy tests and options counseling, hold group harm reduction and recovery sessions, and host Muncie’s Food Not Bombs chapter. Erica is also one part of the two-part acoustic alt-country duo, Ripped From the Roots.