Detroit is continuing its efforts to become a tech hub.
Both Amazon and Lear plan to establish medium-size offices in the city, which will collectively employ hundreds of workers. “We are hiring right now, full-time technology jobs,” Amazon executive Peter Faricy said at a news event, according to the Detroit Free Press. “We want this to be the beginning of a technology hub.”
Detroit already has a tech community, thanks to Detroit Labs (which builds apps) and other firms. Outside of the traditional tech silo, the automobile manufacturers that turned Detroit into the iconic industrial hub of a bygone era still employ hundreds of tech workers, many of whom focus on the software and firmware of increasingly computerized cars.
A number of local government officials believe that tech, rather than heavy industry, may help ease the city back to financial health. In early 2014, the Michigan government announced a plan for reviving Detroit that centered on attracting international workers with strong tech backgrounds to the city.
“In order for Detroit to grow again, we need highly trained workers to move in, open businesses and raise their families,” Detroit mayor Mike Duggan said at the time.
The Michigan plan called for a gradual ramping-up in the number of EB-2 visas issued to workers willing to live in Detroit. Critics have been skeptical of the idea.
In the meantime, a combination of incubators and tech firms may make Detroit, if not Silicon Valley of the Midwest, certainly a more opportunity-rich place for tech pros to call home.