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Grand Rapids Tech Hub


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2 hours ago, Eggbeater357 said:

I think one of the issues not really talked about here is how do you define "Tech Hub" when a large portion of the Tech industry is virtual...the days of a massive Tech company locating in one city is dying or dead.  IMO, this idea of a "Tech Hub" in West Michigan is similar to chasing ghosts.  Tech infrastructure on the other hand, that is still very much in need of improvement in West Michigan...we all thought the SuperNAP was going to change that, it didn't, or hasn't yet.  Maybe under different leadership they can improve the services there.  I don't believe you can tie Amazon building a shipping hub close by as proof the SuperNAP is attracting new business here either, as Amazon nor Azure is co-locating S3 inside the Pyramid.

I'm confused. The Switch data center wasn't going to improve technology here locally. Was it? Or draw other businesses. Amazon built where it did because it's right off M-6 and they have a ton of land to expand on. It was never because Switch was there.

It certainly didn't turn out to be as in-demand as Switch was hoping, it seems, but it was successful enough to sell. 

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2 hours ago, joeDowntown said:

While I agree, it remains to be seen if a 100% remote workforce will remain the norm. For the company I consult with (rhymes with poogle), they definitely seem to be pushing for in person collaboration. If a remote work DOES continue, then I think attracting people to a city will be all about quality of life outside of work. Affordable housing, nature, amenities, etc. 

I think to hedge bets, it’s got to be a variety of tactics. I still don’t think we get anywhere without access to a research university and the brain power that comes with it. If GVSU isn’t interested in research (as mentioned above), maybe we can convince MSU or U of M (like MSU has with medical). 

Joe

Yeah I think it's going to be difficult to get U of M.  As others have stated, they are pretty closely connected with Detroit and are even constructing a new building in The District.  Detroit has nearly double the percentage of tech jobs, a lot of people and companies move or expand there for that reason.   It would be cool to see U of M in town, tech or medical, they have one of the best healthcare systems in the country, but I don't think it would happen.  I think our best bet would honestly be GVSU, maybe MSU or WMU, but does Western have any GR campuses anymore?

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1 hour ago, Jonesey said:

Yeah I think it's going to be difficult to get U of M.  As others have stated, they are pretty closely connected with Detroit and are even constructing a new building in The District.  Detroit has nearly double the percentage of tech jobs, a lot of people and companies move or expand there for that reason.   It would be cool to see U of M in town, tech or medical, they have one of the best healthcare systems in the country, but I don't think it would happen.  I think our best bet would honestly be GVSU, maybe MSU or WMU, but does Western have any GR campuses anymore?

I know they are selling the Beltline campus, but WMU still has the building downtown. 

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5 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

I'm confused. The Switch data center wasn't going to improve technology here locally. Was it? Or draw other businesses. Amazon built where it did because it's right off M-6 and they have a ton of land to expand on. It was never because Switch was there.

It certainly didn't turn out to be as in-demand as Switch was hoping, it seems, but it was successful enough to sell. 

I don't remember anyone making serious claims that our local connectivity would improve. We have plenty of backbone providers in the area—that's not an issue AFAIK.

I find our local internet options to be just fine as a remote worker. I have Comcast's 2000/200 plan, and it's plenty fast for my needs. I'd love to have fiber with symmetrical speeds, but what I have isn't getting in the way of my productivity. I'm not as familiar with the connectivity options for businesses, but I would be surprised if lack of connectivity is keeping any businesses away.

6 hours ago, joeDowntown said:

While I agree, it remains to be seen if a 100% remote workforce will remain the norm. For the company I consult with (rhymes with poogle), they definitely seem to be pushing for in person collaboration. If a remote work DOES continue, then I think attracting people to a city will be all about quality of life outside of work. Affordable housing, nature, amenities, etc. 

My employer (rhymes with Spotify) went full remote in ~April of 2020, to the point of not renewing leases and encouraging employees to move if they wanted to live somewhere else. I think there will always be companies doing both—I actually saw someone at Atomic Object mentioning in-person collaboration as a positive in a job listing—but remote will always be a much bigger part of the market for tech workers, especially when it comes to compensation competitiveness.

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Keep in mind part of the reason Detroit has a higher ratio of tech workers is because automotive is a very tech heavy industry, it has a built in advantage because of that.  Cars are basically smart phones on wheels these days and it takes huge multi functional teams to develop, launch, and maintain those systems.  My employer (rhymes with bored) is putting a large tech specific workforce back into the city of Detroit for just that.  Detroit has always been a STEM heavy economy (Grand Rapids too for that matter just less so on the tech side of things).  Funny side note on cars:  All of the computer equipment in cars is very heavy.   Cars built today weigh as much, and in some cases more than the land yachts built in the 60s and 70s. 

Forgive my ignorance but from a tech standpoint what's the difference between having a major research university and a non research university in attracting something like a big tech relo?  Is it a matter of actual better programs, or just prestige?  It's not as if GVSU doesn't have tech and STEM programs. From what I've seen the bigger hurdle for Grand Rapids would be market size and built environment.  All of the bigger companies that have either relocated, or created dual campuses have shared the commonality of going to bigger markets with an emphasis on public transit(sans Nashville).   GR doesn't have the local branding, tax friendly environment,  and entertainment offerings of a place Nashville.  It would seem like the city would make significant strides in its marketability by investing in transit al a light rail etc or something to that affect.  The current bus system while extensive and with decent ridership, has truncated weekend schedules, and does not run on holidays.   This is probably more of a liability than an asset for a company looking to invest in a new region. 

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18 minutes ago, MJLO said:

Keep in mind part of the reason Detroit has a higher ratio of tech workers is because automotive is a very tech heavy industry, it has a built in advantage because of that.  Cars are basically smart phones on wheels these days and it takes huge multi functional teams to develop, launch, and maintain those systems.  My employer (rhymes with bored) is putting a large tech specific workforce back into the city of Detroit for just that.  Detroit has always been a STEM heavy economy (Grand Rapids too for that matter just less so on the tech side of things).  Funny side note on cars:  All of the computer equipment in cars is very heavy.   Cars built today weigh as much, and in some cases more than the land yachts built in the 60s and 70s. 

Forgive my ignorance but from a tech standpoint what's the difference between having a major research university and a non research university in attracting something like a big tech relo?  Is it a matter of actual better programs, or just prestige?  It's not as if GVSU doesn't have tech and STEM programs. From what I've seen the bigger hurdle for Grand Rapids would be market size and built environment.  All of the bigger companies that have either relocated, or created dual campuses have shared the commonality of going to bigger markets with an emphasis on public transit(sans Nashville).   GR doesn't have the local branding, tax friendly environment,  and entertainment offerings of a place Nashville.  It would seem like the city would make significant strides in its marketability by investing in transit al a light rail etc or something to that affect.  The current bus system while extensive and with decent ridership, has truncated weekend schedules, and does not run on holidays.   This is probably more of a liability than an asset for a company looking to invest in a new region. 

Nashville is mentioned in that Right Place report and they're pretty much on par with us for percentage of the work force in tech.

FYI my employer rhymes with elf-enjoyed, if we want to keep this game going, lol. 

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Are you saying you work for Keebler? LOL

The reason research universities attract companies is because of the talent, plus the actual research. If you look at a University like Stanford, they licensed technology and patents to Google in the early days (which Brin and Page helped research/create while in school). Without Stanford’s research, l Google might not exist. Of course Stanford has been paid handsomely over the years (and still is). So I think it’s a combination of a deep pool of talent (and knowledge from very intelligent faculty) and the ability to quickly take research into the real world (who better to do it than the students who developed it?). That’s what MSU is trying to do in medical, so something similar in tech would be interesting. 

Joe

 

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3 hours ago, joeDowntown said:

Are you saying you work for Keebler? LOL

The reason research universities attract companies is because of the talent, plus the actual research. If you look at a University like Stanford, they licensed technology and patents to Google in the early days (which Brin and Page helped research/create while in school). Without Stanford’s research, l Google might not exist. Of course Stanford has been paid handsomely over the years (and still is). So I think it’s a combination of a deep pool of talent (and knowledge from very intelligent faculty) and the ability to quickly take research into the real world (who better to do it than the students who developed it?). That’s what MSU is trying to do in medical, so something similar in tech would be interesting. 

Joe

 

Just to reiterate that point, at Purdue (my Alma Mater) they just lured SkyWater Technology to build a $1.8 Billion semiconductor plant that will bring 750 tech jobs. To a city of 45k people (180k metro). Universities with heavy research programs can pull in big employers. 

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23 minutes ago, Pattmost20 said:

Just to reiterate that point, at Purdue (my Alma Mater) they just lured SkyWater Technology to build a $1.8 Billion semiconductor plant that will bring 750 tech jobs. To a city of 45k people (180k metro). Universities with heavy research programs can pull in big employers. 

I wish GR (or even MI for that matter) could land some of those huge battery, semiconductor or battery plants.  I know Michigan leaders kinda got an eye opener when that battery plant went to Ohio and not MI.

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4 hours ago, Jonesey said:

I wish GR (or even MI for that matter) could land some of those huge battery, semiconductor or battery plants.  I know Michigan leaders kinda got an eye opener when that battery plant went to Ohio and not MI.

LG Chem is doing a HUGE expansion in Holland. I'm surprised it wasn't bigger news. 

$1.7 BILLION.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/insideevs.com/news/575359/lges-plant-expansion-michigan/amp/

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On 9/9/2022 at 3:24 PM, joeDowntown said:

While I agree, it remains to be seen if a 100% remote workforce will remain the norm. For the company I consult with (rhymes with poogle), they definitely seem to be pushing for in person collaboration. If a remote work DOES continue, then I think attracting people to a city will be all about quality of life outside of work. Affordable housing, nature, amenities, etc. 

I work for a tech company which was rapidly expanding its downtown gr office before the pandemic despite offering full remote options even before the pandemic. The office expansion didn't complete, the existing office was made even more spacious than it already was, and the company is still expanding regardless.. just instead of all my co-workers being in either GR or Maryland, now they're from GR, Maryland, Utah, Brazil, Ohio, Georgia, etc. It's became a primarily remote work company. I've been to the office physically only once in the last two years, and it was optional.

And while some other companies are enacting "come to the office twice a week" rules and similar, pretty much all of the software devs I know of are passing those by for full remote jobs. The market is going to dictate where things go with remote work, and the market to me seems to be pushing for remote work. Only a few holdouts will remain that require on-site work, plus whatever jobs actually require one to be on-site as a nature of the work itself, like tech manufacturing.

Edited by Allison Slater
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22 hours ago, Jonesey said:

I wish GR (or even MI for that matter) could land some of those huge battery, semiconductor or battery plants.  I know Michigan leaders kinda got an eye opener when that battery plant went to Ohio and not MI.

Semiconductor factories are water intense industries.  I am surprised that they continue to expand in Phoenix and Austin where water is a precious resource.  I would expect the Great Lakes region to be a bigger landing spot for that industry in the future.  Although New York has some fabs, and the recent Intel expansion to Columbus is a good sign.    

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On 9/10/2022 at 3:56 PM, Jonesey said:

I wish GR (or even MI for that matter) could land some of those huge battery, semiconductor or battery plants.  I know Michigan leaders kinda got an eye opener when that battery plant went to Ohio and not MI.

Lots of cities want to chase tech companies.  That recent Inflation Reduction Act had incentives for domestic renewable energy related business .  I don’t know a lot about that industry but it seems like it would be a mix of tech and manufacturing.  Does a Silicon Valley equivalent exist for renewable energy or could GR attempt to jump in on that game?

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On 9/13/2022 at 4:55 AM, egrguy said:

It's not sexy and it's not fast, but education has always been important and always will be. Why not focus on building some of the best educational infrastructure in the region.

Speaking of unsexy education, GRCC is an asset to the region and will be a key component of this. It won’t bring in companies like a research university will but it will adapt when they come and train the workforce.   We saw this with Medical Mile, their nursing and medical programs are first-rate.  Not every city invests in their community colleges but GR is lucky that it does.

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1 hour ago, RegalTDP said:

Speaking of unsexy education, GRCC is an asset to the region and will be a key component of this. It won’t bring in companies like a research university will but it will adapt when they come and train the workforce.   We saw this with Medical Mile, their nursing and medical programs are first-rate.  Not every city invests in their community colleges but GR is lucky that it does.

Absolutely. GRCC is a critical piece of for education and training highly skilled labor. I'm 150% behind workforce training programs, the culinary school is amazing, and it's a great way to save money if you want to get a four year education, but complete your first two years at CC (I've also heard a lot of college students take summer classes when home from other Universities to help accelerate their graduation and lower costs). 

Joe

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On 9/10/2022 at 3:56 PM, Jonesey said:

I wish GR (or even MI for that matter) could land some of those huge battery, semiconductor or battery plants.  I know Michigan leaders kinda got an eye opener when that battery plant went to Ohio and not MI.

 

On 9/10/2022 at 8:21 PM, GRDadof3 said:

LG Chem is doing a HUGE expansion in Holland. I'm surprised it wasn't bigger news. 

$1.7 BILLION.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/insideevs.com/news/575359/lges-plant-expansion-michigan/amp/

Something bigger may be in the works.  But don't tell anyone - it's not a done deal yet:

DETNEWS: this may or may not happen

 

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TLDR- Sounds like MEDC is trying to lure Gotion, a Chinese EV Battery part maker (w/ Volkswagen as a major shareholder) to build a $3.6B plant in Big Rapids. 500 employees to start, 2000 eventually. Consumers Energy is involved, and everyone is being hush-hush about it. 

I like the idea, but am also sheepish about the big swings and massive subsidies, partly because half of the stuff never pans out, or turns into a full on nightmare like Foxconn in Wisconsin. But I guess you have to swing big and keep swinging at some point. 

Also, @NoDustBusterNoMore- Use https://archive.ph like someone mentioned. Paste in the URL to the article and voila! ;)

Joe 

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18 minutes ago, joeDowntown said:

TLDR- Sounds like MEDC is trying to lure Gotion, a Chinese EV Battery part maker (w/ Volkswagen as a major shareholder) to build a $3.6B plant in Big Rapids. 500 employees to start, 2000 eventually. Consumers Energy is involved, and everyone is being hush-hush about it. 

I like the idea, but am also sheepish about the big swings and massive subsidies, partly because half of the stuff never pans out, or turns into a full on nightmare like Foxconn in Wisconsin. But I guess you have to swing big and keep swinging at some point. 

Also, @NoDustBusterNoMore- Use https://archive.ph like someone mentioned. Paste in the URL to the article and voila! ;)

Joe 

Wrong Rapids… imI wish it were in GR…

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