Competing with the Coasts for Tech Talent
Many insurance companies, by chance or by design, are based within the heartland of North America, away from the hustle-bustle of the coasts (with the notable exception of ever-bustling Chicagoland). Does this put these companies at a disadvantage in terms of being able to attract the best and brightest tech talent, who may be lured by the startup cultures of San Francisco, Seattle, New York or Boston?
Perhaps you readers can enlighten us on this question. There's no doubt that many Midwestern cities have rock-solid pools of well-trained and quality tech professionals. Quality of life is higher, the cost of living is lower and the pace is a bit more relaxed than the high-stress coastal cities.
There may be movement, as well, to bring in venture capital to heartland locations — and more tech talent is sure to follow. A “Silicon Prairie” is rising within Kansas City and environs, Detroit's Woodward Avenue is the scene of a renaissance of startups, and New Orleans has actually been drawing prospective entrepreneurs away from Silicon Valley.
A recent Bloomberg TV episode highlighted AOL founder Steve Case's efforts to draw attention to investment opportunities within North America's heartland, and Chad Halvorson, CEO of this clicks, a St. Paul, Minn.-based company that provides workforce management software, says there are inherent advantages to employers located there.
“One of the unique things that are things about not being not on the east or west coasts is there are not a large number of tech startups,” Halvorson says. “But a lot of large Fortune 500 companies have a lot of talent. So there's less competition among the tech startup community, where their talent has their chance to put their mark on what they’re doing.”
Ultimately, it's an advantage for heartland-based insurers to be able to offer opportunities within an innovative culture within a fast-changing industry. Plus, with telecommuting and remote work options, it may not even be necessary to limit workforce recruiting to local areas. The question is whether it's necessary to be able to compete with companies on the coasts in doing so.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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