Is this city the next Silicon Valley?
Detroit is enjoying an unexpected boom in tech jobs.
Detroit, Michigan may be most readily associated with the auto industry, but a spate of new startups is repositioning the Motor City as a growing hub for tech jobs.
According to recode.net, around 100 startups have made Detroit their home, from drone company SkySpecs to mobile app developer Detroit Labs, whose wood-grained, loft-style office wouldn’t be out of place in the Bay Area or SoHo. Largely concentrated in the city’s Madison Block area, this movement is a big win for a city that, with its sunken homes and closed-down factories, has long been the face of American manufacturing decline.
And many of these companies are currently hiring.
Ambassador, which develops customer referral software for companies like T-Mobile, has openings available for iOS engineers and website directors (among many others). Another startup, social media technology company Digital Roots, is hiring several developers with experience with SAP business tools. All told, a search of Monster for Detroit-based tech jobs elicits more than 1,000 results.
Startups aren’t the only companies drawn to Detroit. Twitter and Microsoft are both residents of Madison Block, and Amazon has announced plans to expand its space in downtown Detroit, creating scores of new tech jobs.
“We have a long-term plan to grow our presence in the great state of Michigan, and bring more full-time, high-tech jobs to the city of Detroit,” Peter Faricy, vice president for Amazon Marketplace, said in a statement. “We are focused on hiring in the state and look forward to being a part of the community, professionally and personally. Michigan is a rapidly growing technology corridor and we’re eager to bring the incredible local Detroit talent to Amazon.”
And as for that old-school auto industry, well, it’s paying attention, too. Automotive consulting group Urban Science, based in Detroit, has numerous IT positions open right now. General Motors, meanwhile, recently invested $500 million in ride-hailing service Lyft with a plan of developing a network of self-driving cars. While it has yet to be seen how it translates into jobs, the deal marks the biggest partnership yet between the tech industry and Detroit’s automotive old guard.
Of course, Detroit’s not the only city to be labeled the “next Silicon Valley.” Austin, Texas, which hosts the annual South By Southwest technology and arts conference, is a familiar sight on lists of rising tech hubs. And North Carolina’s “Research Triangle,” spanning Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, has been a center for technology firms for decades.
Still, if there was ever a city that could truly use a job injection, it’s Detroit. And while it may never again be the industrial powerhouse it was in its heyday, it could be well on the way to becoming a different kind of powerhouse altogether.
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