For decades, Silicon Valley has been synonymous with innovation and high-tech talent. But in recent years, its reputation has also been associated with less enviable qualities. Astronomical housing costs, snarled traffic and high taxes are making it harder to attract, retain and afford great technical talent in the Bay Area. Many tech companies are considering alternatives. For Silicon Valley custom software development firm Nexient, Michigan has been a great one.
Nexient specializes in helping Fortune 500 and high-tech clients succeed with a product-minded software development approach, focused on revenue growth and customer experience. The company’s 100 percent US workforce enables real-time client collaboration throughout the day and offers a domestic alternative to offshoring tech jobs. This means finding the right location for its first product development center was essential to the company’s business model.
After considering several US cities, Nexient set up its Ann Arbor Product Development Center in 2010, with recruiting and siting assistance from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Ann Arbor SPARK. The leafy city of Ann Arbor (nicknamed “Tree Town” for its many trees and parks) is perhaps best known to the tech community as the home of the University of Michigan and its world-class engineering program.
In addition to UofM, Nexient has been able to forge academic partnerships and recruit from some 30 additional schools with computer science programs in the region.
Nexient was also attracted to the region’s vibrant culture, affordable housing, excellent schools and year-round activities. Ann Arbor has consistently been ranked #1 by national media as one of the Best Places to Live, Best College Towns, and Most Educated Cities in America.
From a few dozen coders in 2010, Nexient’s Michigan presence now includes hundreds of software professionals, ranging from architects and product managers to UX designers, quality engineers and developers across a wide variety of technologies. "Michigan is part of our recipe for scalability," explains Chief Delivery Officer Colin Chapman. "We see it as a big competitive advantage.”
In 2018, Nexient decided to build on its Michigan success. It committed to create 300 additional tech jobs in Michigan by 2020, pledging a $4.1 million investment, backed by a $1.5 million performance-based grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund. Company growth means Nexient is already ahead of that plan.
While most of its hiring comes from the strong Michigan talent pool, Nexient has also found that the region is appealing to out-of-state candidates as well. In fact, two-thirds of Nexient’s relocations are employees from coastal states such as California, New York and Florida moving to Michigan.
Why are talented techies excited to move to Michigan?
It’s not hard to see why Michigan’s tech employment growth is outpacing other states.
Consider the two college towns of Ann Arbor, Michigan and Palo Alto, California as examples. Both offer great universities, talent pipelines and culture. But Ann Arbor's cost of living is about 383% lower — and that’s without factoring in taxes or childcare. Commute times are also 19% shorter.
That means more time for coaching a soccer team, enjoying life on one of 11,000 lakes — or maybe coming up with the next disruptive innovation.
Visit michiganbusiness.org to find resources from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to help your business thrive in Michigan, and go to Michigan.org to learn more about why Michigan’s quality of life makes it an ideal place for your employees to call home.