Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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GM deal illustrates Austin’s thriving tech sector

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TWC News: GM deal illustrates Austin’s thriving tech sector
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Richard Martinez and his wife are visiting Austin this weekend from San Antonio. He was excited to hear Friday that General Motors chose his neighbor to the north to create at least 500 jobs for its computer center.

GM officials say Austin is one of four cities it chose to bring its information technology division back under the corporate umbrella. Before, it used outside contractors.

"If it happens in Houston, if it happens in Dallas or Austin, it affects San Antonio,” Martinez said. “It trickles down to us."

Austin resident Neal Fowler says the move shows Austin isn't just known for live music anymore.

"Any big company like GM that picks Austin as a place to put smart, talented people like that is always a good thing," Fowler said.

Mark Lavergne with the Texas Workforce Commission said the city’s tech sector has seen tremendous job growth, despite a sluggish national economy.

The Labor Department released the latest job numbers that show a slowdown in job creation and a relatively stagnant unemployment rate.

"They could set up shop in any number of places. They choose your state and your city to bring 500 high-skilled, high demand jobs,” Lavergne said. “It speaks really well for the value of your workforce."

Lavergne admits not every out-of-work Texan will fit the mold for this job because it requires high-skilled IT work. However, he says that's why the TWC encourages those out-of-work to go back and gain new skill sets."

"In order to be able to offer the services people are looking for in order to enhance their skills," Lavergne said.

The political spotlight shone on GM and the auto industry during both the Republican and Democratic conventions in recent weeks--driving home how the parties plan to get the economy moving again.

Politics aside, GM's recent announcement reflects its own commitment to bounce back.

"If we are going to get the ‘Made in America’ stamp back on everything, we need to bring the local economy back in the United States," Martinez said.

GM officials want the IT innovation centers to develop new technology that can be incorporated into vehicles. They say the move is also meant to cut costs.

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