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Detroit: America's Next Tech Boomtown 336

jfruh writes: "Over the past few years, the growth rate in Detroit tech jobs has been twice the natural average. The reason is the industry that still makes Detroit a company town: U.S. automotive companies are getting into high tech in a big way, and need qualified people to help them do it. Another bonus: the rent is a lot cheaper than it is in San Francisco. '[A]ccording to Automation Alley's 2013 Technology Industry Report, the metro Detroit area grew to a total of 242,520 technology industry jobs in 2011, representing a 15% increase from the 2010 level of 210,984 technology industry jobs. No other benchmarked region had greater technology industry growth than metro Detroit in this period. Further, according to the report, this growth helped propel metro Detroit to a ranking of fourth among the 14 benchmarked regions, passing San Jose."
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Detroit: America's Next Tech Boomtown

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  • by callmetheraven ( 711291 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @12:24PM (#46788209)
    Detroit's population is success-proof, they will find a way to drive away wealth as they always have, perhaps another riot will return them to the poverty they've earned so well.
  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @12:31PM (#46788285)

    Over the past few years, the growth rate in Detroit tech jobs has been twice the natural average.

    It's not just growth. Detroit has had lots of tech jobs for decades. It's been in the top 5 markets for many types of tech jobs for a long time. There is an ENORMOUS amount of technology that goes into automobile manufacturing. Robotics, CAD, industrial automation, materials science, welding, forming, coatings, chemicals, software and more. There are very few places in the USA with a higher density of engineering talent and opportunity.

    Oh and before someone makes yet another ill informed remark about Detroit City, don't confuse Metro Detroit with Detroit City. Oakland County, immediately to the north of Detroit is one of the 10 wealthiest counties in the entire USA and has a AAA credit rating. Michigan is actually a really nice place to live, especially if you love the outdoors. Ann Arbor which is close by is a fantastic college town too if that suits your sensibilities.

  • Wait for it.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by retech ( 1228598 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @12:37PM (#46788329)
    I went back for a visit last winter. It's sad. There are tiny pockets of hold outs and then the rest is just a free for all. Scrappers have gutted ever bit of available metal from any empty building not staffed with armed guards. This is best done with a sledge hammer and torch. The buildings are not recoverable after that. The roads are worse than a dirt road. At least gravity levels those out a bit. Then there's the crime.

    I found a hipster pocket in DelRay. Perhaps one of the most obliterated areas. The homes are early 20th cen and cute. They sell for about $10 - 100. If you can find a buyer. There was a 2 block section of white hipsters fixing up their little gems. Baby strollers, all the trimmings. And I commented to a friend who still lives about .5 miles away: "Don't they realize when things get bad enough they're gonna be food for the locals?" He just laughed and said no.

    Nothing has really changed there. Sadly it won't. The mentality is still the same. No matter how much money you throw at it. The city is corrupt from the ground up and has been for 100+ yrs. The new mayor may help. But he'll most likely give up like Archer did. Without a major paradigm shift in mentality it will always be Detroit.
  • Re:Wanted (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wile_e8 ( 958263 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @12:42PM (#46788367)
    Note that this article is about "metro Detroit", not "Detroit". Plenty of safe places to live in the Detroit metro area, especially on a tech worker salary, they're just outside the city proper. And even if the jobs were in actual Detroit, it's still possible to commute from outside the city. But whatever, it's an article mentioning Detroit, let's just bash Detroit.
  • It could happen (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @12:44PM (#46788387)

    I'm a Rust Belt kid, so seeing northern cities on something of a comeback trajectory is a good thing to me. The problem is image -- you have to find techies who are willing to put up with a very messed up local economy and deal with winter. I'm from Buffalo, and winters there are very long and cold. The obvious benefit is that the cost of living is much lower than California or similar. I couldn't believe last time I was in CA to visit a friend that they had just paid almost a million dollars for a 3-bedroom house with no property. I don't care how good the weather is, that's absolutely nuts, and I live in the NYC metro area, so I know about high real estate prices.

    I think it's all cyclical. Right now where I am, everyone is moving to North Carolina (Why??) People cite a much lower cost of living. That's true -- you can sell your Long Island house and buy (literally) a mansion on several acres in NC. The only problem is that Charlotte, RTP, etc. are still cities and real estate that's close to jobs is going to be more. Your mansion is going to be 25 miles' drive from anywhere. Atlanta has a similar issue -- people deal with multi-hour commutes so they can live in a massive house inside a gated community in the middle of nowhere. Side note - a friend of mine who moved there for a job refers to Cary, NC as an acronym -- Containment Area for Relocated Yankees.

    Personally, I love winter and would have no desire to move somewhere like Florida, Texas, or Arizona. Right now, those are the cheapest places business-wise, so jobs move there. But the northern states can play the game too. New York just gave some new businesses a 10 year tax holiday if they locate in certain parts of the state. All the state economic development agencies engage in this kind of poaching. The only problem is that the South is better at it because they don't fund schools and local governments to the same extent. If Michigan and Detroit are serious about this, and can afford it, then the businesses will move back. Executives don't care because they would either stay put or be happy just about anywhere. To them, it's not all that hard to pick up and move.

    Low real estate prices, compact metro areas that mean short commute times, etc. are advantages that these states and cities can use. We'll see if it pans out.

  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @12:44PM (#46788397) Homepage Journal

    I would die first before moving to texas. most of my friend also feel the same.

    ... and since the worldview of you and your friends equals 100% of tech employees... /sarc

    the outright racism and bible-belt feel just is not compatible with many techies' view of what a good living area should offer.

    Never actually been to the "bible-belt," have you? It shows in your bigotry against those of us who actually live here, the irony of which is not lost on me.

  • by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @12:51PM (#46788461) Homepage Journal

    The tech in Texas is centered on Austin. The techies in Texas gravitate to the most progressive parts of Texas.

  • by Glith ( 7368 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @12:52PM (#46788463)

    I've spent about half of my life in Texas. I've lived in Houston, Dallas, and Austin. I've also lived in Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Southern California.

    Every conversation about living in Texas I've had with a West Coaster:
    "How can you stand living in Texas. Everyone is so bigoted and prejudicial?"
    "Oh really, have you ever been there?"

  • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @12:57PM (#46788529) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, it's not like shifting globalized markets can turn one of the places with the best median standards of living into a slum over a couple decades. Yep, it's gotta be "those" people. You know "those ones". They're just incompatible with success.

    I don't know if you're racist or anti-union, but either way, your opinions are just biases stated in words.

  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @01:06PM (#46788603)

    it's not the bigotry, its the fact they have no zoning laws and some megacorp can build a fertilizer plant next to residential housing and kill people when it explodes
    or build some oil refinery next to someone's home and poison their air and water

  • by Zordak ( 123132 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @01:12PM (#46788649) Homepage Journal

    in that area of the country? it does not seem so, to me. seems more like deep red states, more or less.

    Detroit? Deep Red? Detroit has not had a Republican mayor in 50 years. Detroit is your liberal, socialist utopia. Liberals should be flocking there to bask in their success.

  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @01:14PM (#46788673)

    I would die first before moving to texas. most of my friend also feel the same.

    You obviously haven't actually BEEN in Texas have you? There are parts of Texas I wouldn't give you a plug nickle for, but the techie parts of it are nice places to live. Dallas, Austin, Huston (less so) are great places to live. I've lived in Austin and Dallas and where both are unique, both are good places to live.

    in all my life, I have never heard anyone EXCITED about moving to texas, at least for tech. sure, there is tech there but only for those that can stomach the texas lifestyle and redneck attitudes.

    Yea, you've definitely NOT been here... Austin is ANYTHING but redneck in it's attitude. Dallas is a bit "cowboy" but that's NOT redneck either. Your preconceived notions about Texas are totally wrong. I got moved by my job, out of Texas, and I couldn't wait to get back. So you've now you have heard from somebody who was grateful to get transferred to Texas.

    the outright racism and bible-belt feel just is not compatible with many techies' view of what a good living area should offer.

    Again, you are so wrong. So very wrong... Texas is the most integrated culture I've lived in, if you measure it by looking at the diversity at various income levels. Yea, there are the poor, but your charge of racism is totally baseless, at least in the urban areas I've lived in. (cannot speak for what goes on out in the poorer country areas)

    I would bet that Austin would come as a huge surprise to you. They may ware cowboy boots and hats, but don't let their looks fool you. It's obviously NOT what you think it is. I suggest you not knock it until you've tried it... But if you really have that bad of an attitude about Texas, go ahead and die so you won't have to risk moving here and ruining the place with your attitudes.

  • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @01:29PM (#46788827)

    The cities are full of so called 'progressives'. That's also where most of the poverty & crime come from in these states.. What a coincidence!

    I wonder if that has anything to do with being where most of the people are to begin with.

  • by k8to ( 9046 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @01:38PM (#46788891) Homepage

    I have been there. It is.

  • by Jahoda ( 2715225 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @02:03PM (#46789109) Homepage
    How you get moderated "insightful" for such nonsense is beyond me. Detroit's problems are rooted in race and the class system that existed there long before it became a republican talking point to blame Detroit's problems caused by "socialist liberalism". I like to think this is the kind of place such a black and white view of the world gets buried where it belongs.
  • by dlt074 ( 548126 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @02:09PM (#46789147)

    which would of been picked up by the next, possibly innovative, auto company to come along an buy up all the union heavy, bloated, bureaucratic, bankrupt companies assets at rock bottom prices. there is/was no need to bail the industry out. people like/want cars. somebody will always be around to make them and people move were the jobs are. you don't stop being valuable or employable because the company you work for goes out of business. it's called a free market. which we haven't had for some time.

    as for moving to Detroit, no thank you. too many union types lurking around up there.

  • by cusco ( 717999 ) <brian,bixby&gmail,com> on Friday April 18, 2014 @02:12PM (#46789175)

    As they always have? Sorry, but "always" includes a period much longer than the past 20 years. Detroit was the economic powerhouse of the United States for decades until its business leaders caught the 'MBA Disease' and managed their companies into the ground.

  • by OhPlz ( 168413 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @02:15PM (#46789209)

    Democrats and labor unions have run Detroit for what, six decades? How much longer do they need to fix those "preexisting" issues? Or is it that their ideologies simply don't work?

  • by BobMcD ( 601576 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @02:33PM (#46789453)

    Never actually been to the "bible-belt," have you? It shows in your bigotry against those of us who actually live here, the irony of which is not lost on me.

    Having moved from the Ozarks to Dallas, I can comfortably say 'bible belt my ass'. DFW is heathen by comparison to the actual bible belt.

  • by operagost ( 62405 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @04:49PM (#46790867) Homepage Journal

    its the fact they have no zoning laws

    Slashdot, why is this modded insightful? Really-- why? HOUSTON is notable for having no zoning laws. Apparently, the town of West doesn't either, because it appears to be the town with the exploding fertilizer plant that alen is referring to. Zoning is not generally the duty of the state, but of the local governments. Do you really want the state telling you how your town must be laid out? Why do you, as a citizen, want some bureaucrats far away making blind decisions instead of being able to go to a town meeting and actually influence the decisions?

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