January 21, 2021 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Walking through the streets of downtown Seattle, I struggle to get used to the fact that the drab gray, one-bedroom loft located above the Occidental Square coffee shop I frequent rents for $4,000 per month. I struggle to come to grips with the knowledge that my fiance and I could easily sell our home in West Seattle today, move to any state in the south or the midwest and buy a 7-bedroom, 4,000-square foot mansion, on a lake, for the same price.
How is that possible?
The state of Washington’s economy is robust. So is the economy of California’s with a GDP ranked 5th in the world, ahead of India and the UK! New York is ranked 12th, ahead of Canada and Russia. But the states in the middle of the U.S., such as Kansas and Missouri, or those in the south like Tennessee and Mississippi, are struggling to provide their citizens with basic, sustainable employment opportunities. If you were to study a US map overlaid with financial data for each state it shows the United States in a rapid collapse from the middle, which from my perspective is not acceptable, nor sustainable.
Bridging the gap
There are three American industries, however, that are poised to bridge this economic gap: technology, renewable energy, and cannabis. Of those three, the cannabis industry should be the leader. Why? The opportunities the cannabis industry presents to middle America is much more attractive than that presented by tech. Working in cannabis doesn’t require a college MIS degree and therefore presents a much lower barrier for entry. For example, budtenders in Seattle make good money, own a ton of customer respect, and are treated like influencers. They don’t need college to understand the cannabis