Yep, IT in TN is boring as hell. That can be a good or a bad thing depending on what people look for in a job. Such as whether they want to be grinding 16 hr days at a startup or having low stress extending a legacy app during more typical work hours.
Although usually not exciting, several cities in TN did roll out fast Internet on the cheap from the utility companies. Chattanooga did Gigabit with a lot of PR. Now, they have 10Gbps for $299 a month. Making me question if I would re-locate just for an Internet connection. ;)
As someone who just went through the interviewing process in Chicago, this pretty much mirrors my experience exactly. I will say though that I did not mind recruiters having me meet with their whole team as I felt like they were able to get a better sense of what I was looking for in my next position. I too am baffled at the IP clause/non-competes in Chicago too… it’s quite unfortunate
Seattle is not one of the top 2 tech startup cities in the US. NYC is in 2nd place in the entire world after the Bay Area. Seattle may well be #3 in the US though.